WDA History

Old WDA LogoChinese Version         Japanese Version
A group of 28 US and Canadian wildlife biologists attending the 16th North American Wildlife Conference in Milwaukee Wisconsin during March of 1951 met informally for discussion, and founded an organization called the Wildlife Disease Committee. Most of these individuals probably had attended the technical session on disease, nutrition, and control problems, that included presentations on the effects of ingested lead shot upon waterfowl, screw-worm infestations in deer in the southeast, trichomoniasis in mourning doves, foot rot in California deer, and an analysis of the 1949-50 fowl cholera epizootic in Texas.

Ten of the biologists met again on 16 March 1952 at the 17th North American Wildlife Conference in Miami. At this meeting, the name of the group was changed to the Wildlife Disease Association, thus establishing an international scientific organization dedicated solely to the study and understanding of health of wild animals. The group also approved a statement of scope and purpose of the Wildlife Disease Association ("WDA") that had been developed in committee during the previous year.

A formal constitution was drafted in 1959 and approved by the members. It is essentially the same document that our association is governed by today, with relatively minor changes over the years.

Dr. Carlton Herman, a scientist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services' Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, was one of the numerous early volunteer members of the Association. Dr. Herman first espoused the idea of a society for the wildlife disease discipline. He was the WDA's founding Chairman from 1951-1959 and first elected President from 1959-1961. Dr. Herman also prepared and printed the association's first Newsletter from 1951-1959 and served as editor of Wildlife Disease, a microfiche journal, from 1959-1972.

Dr. Herman established the Carlton M. Herman Founders' Fund in 1991, to provide a perpetual source of money in support of activities of the Wildlife Disease Association. Over the last 10 years, the fund has supported invitation of a number of speakers to our annual meeting to specifically address topics related to population health and density resulting from changes in habitat.

Dr. Herman died in 1997, but through the Herman Fund, his influence on and commitment to the WDA continues. Other members have also had a profound influence on the WDA, many of whom served as editors of WDA's various publications table 1, as officers of the WDA Council table 2 and and/or received WDA's highest honors; the Distinguished Service and Emeritus Awards (see section of website entitled "WDA Recognition and Awards").

The WDA Annual Conference was held in conjunction with the North American Wildlife Conference during the first 15 years of its existence. Beginning in 1966, WDA meetings were held independently or in conjunction with other societies. Most annual conferences have occurred in Canada and the United States. International conferences have been held in High View, New York (1962); Sussex, England (1971); Munich, Germany (1975); Sydney, Australia (1981); Uppsala, Sweden, (1985); East Berlin, Germany (1990); East Lansing, Michigan (1995); Pilanesberg, South Africa (2001); and Cairns, Australia (2005). Beginning in 1990, no meeting was held within North America in the years when a meeting was held outside North America.


The WDA has produced a number of publications starting with the first Newsletter (1951-1964), a means for distribution of WDA news and brief reports of wildlife disease investigations. In 1965, this newsletter grew into a journal for research papers, case reports, etc. and was entitled the Bulletin of the Wildlife Disease Association. Five years later, the name was changed to the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, as we know it today, and the journal has become the primary peer-reviewed publication for wildlife health issues. Prior to the journal (1959), the WDA published a unique microfiche journal entitled Wildlife Disease for longer manuscripts, reviews, bibliographies, etc,. and continued to use this format until 1986. In 1978, the association began distributing another newsletter along with the journal, the Wildlife Disease newsletter, which is now known as the Supplement to the JWD (1986-present).

The Bulletin of the Wildlife Disease Association/Journal of Wildlife Diseases was initially printed in Chicago, Illinois. It was subsequently printed in Ames, Iowa (Carter Press), Guelph, Ontario (Guelph Printing Company), and Fort Collins, Colorado (Colorado State University Press) Ames, before being relocated to Allen Press in Lawrence, Kansas in 1983. In 2004, the Association entered into agreement with HighWire Press of Stanford University for an electronic version of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases to be mounted and maintained on the HighWire Press platform.

The WDA logo has evolved as well. The first image on the Bulletin of the Wildlife Disease Association included drawings of flying waterfowl, a mosquito, and test tubes. In 1970, when the journal changed names, the image included a fish instead of a mosquito. In 1983, when the journal cover was updated, a new logo was introduced that incorporated all of the old elements with 2 new ones, a deer and a microscope. We began 2001, our 50th year, with a new logo and a new look. The new logo retains most of the previous elements: a deer, flying waterfowl, fish, mosquito, and microscope, reflecting the diversity of animals and issues of interest to members of the WDA. Some of the geographic sections of the Association have section logos that display fauna indigenous to their areas.

The WDA constitution provides for membership subdivisions or Sections for members who have common scientific interests or share common geographical boundaries, and a number of WDA sections have been organized over the last several decades. The Australasian Section, established in 1973, was the first WDA section. Other geographic sections that have thrived include the Nordic Section established in 1987 and the European Section established in 1993. Each of these sections elects their own officers, holds a seat on the WDA Council, convenes meetings within their respective geographic regions, and publishes newsletters. Another section, the Wildlife Veterinarian Section was established in 1980 and is comprised of people who are members of both the WDA and the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians. The Wildlife Veterinarian Section also elects its own officers, holds a seat on the WDA Council, publishes its own ewsletter, and convenes its annual meetings in conjunction with either the WDA or the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. The sections of WDA unite common interests and bridge disparate geographic regions. The WDA encourages the formation of geographic sections.

The Council of the WDA was originally comprised of the Past President, President, Secretary, Treasurer, and six Members-at-Large, the latter with two elected annually on staggered three year terms. In 1968, the Editors of the WDA publications were added by constitutional amendment as members of Council. At present, this includes the Co-Editors of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases and the Editors of the WDA Newsletter and website. In 1978, elected Chairs of Sections were included as voting members of the WDA Council and, in 2001, a Council position was created for an elected student member. There are currently 21 positions on the WDA Council.

Administration of the WDA has evolved gradually. Initially the WDA business office operated from Chicago, Illinois. In 1967, the business office was relocated to Ames, and in 1993, to Allen Press in Lawrence, Kansas where it remains. Except for the business contract with Allen Press and some editorial assistance for the Editors of the Journal of WildlifeDiseases, all activities of the WDA continued to be served for many years by volunteers. In 2003, Council contracted with a consultant as a part time Executive Manager. Members of the WDA continue to rely on and appreciate the extensive volunteer work of the membership!

There were 200 members in 1954 and the number of members and institutional subscribers increased by 1959 to 652 members and 116 institutional subscriptions for the Bulletin of Wildlife Diseases. In 2008, there were 1348 members and 385 institutional subscribers to the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

The memberships and subscriptions have varied over the years. Overall there has been an increase in memberships and decrease in institutional subscriptions during the 25 years between 1981 and 2008. There were 700-800 regular memberships between 1981 and 2002 with a subsequent increase to 898 regular members in 2008. There were many student members (220-250) during the 1980s with numbers dropping as low as 123. In 2008, we had 330 student members. An associate membership category was introduced in 1992 for those wishing to be members at reduced fees without receiving the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.

Students have always played a prominent role in the WDA. The Association sponsors a number of student awards including a research recognition travel award and a student best presentation award both initiated between 1969 and 1972. In 1997 a scholarship award first presented for the first time and a best student poster award was initiated in 2007. Details about these awards are presented in the Students section of the website. Many of the geographic sections also offer student awards for members within their sections. The Association has also sponsored student meetings and travel for a number of students to some annual meetings. Students are now creating student chapters of the WDA to share common interests.

The WDA originated in the United States (US), is incorporated in and runs its business office within the US and publishes the Journal of Wildlife Diseases within the US. Understandably, the Association is dependent on representation by members from the US. However, from the very early stages the Association aimed to serve all who worked on the health and management of wildlife. The international scope of the WDA was reflected by having members from 15 countries and institutional subscriptions from 13 countries back in 1959. In 2006, there were members from 60 countries and institutional subscriptions from 28 countries. The Journal of Wildlife Diseases has for many decades published papers on fauna from a wide variety of countries with 39% of papers published in 2006 from 25 countries outside of the US table 3. The Association has donated paper copies of the Bulletin of the Wildlife Disease Association/Journal of Wildlife Diseases to universities, resource management agencies and zoos in diverse parts of the world. Beginning in 2005, the WDA made all but the most recent 18 months of the Journal available electronically free of charge. During 2006 and in conjunction with the Wildlife Conservation Society Global Health Programs, the WDA co-sponsored free distribution of all issues of the electronic Journal of Wildlife Diseases, including the most recent ones, to people in the 113 least economically developed countries of the world. These countries represent 74% of the world human population.

The Council of the WDA has also become increasingly international in representation. There have been three presidents from Canada and one from Sweden. In 2007, 9 of 21 voting positions on the Council were occupied by members from outside the U.S. and our first executive manager for more than 20 years is from Canada.

Annual membership fees were first assessed in 1954 at $1and were $5 in 1967. The 1986 regular member fees of $30 increased $3.25 per annum through to 2005 ($85). During the same 20-year period, student fees increased $1 per annum from $20 to $40 and remain $40 in 2007. Associate member fees increased from the original $10 in 1992 to the current $22 for 2007. From comparisons in December 2005 with fees of 29 other like-minded biologically oriented societies that publish journals, student fees in the WDA were the 26th lowest fees. In a similar comparison of fees for regular members, the fees for the WDA were lower than for 24 of 32 like-minded organizations. Fees for institutional subscriptions were $10 in 1967, $60 in 1988 and $250 in 2006 before being converted to a structure for 2007 based on fees of varying amounts based on the size of the subscribing institution. In 2009, both memberships and subscriptions are being offered for electronic-only distribution of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases in addition to the previous option of both print and electronic versions of the Journal.

The first WDA website was created in 1997 and has been populated with an ever increasing amount of material. The current address of the Association website is www.wildlifedisease.org, the site upon which this history is mounted. A WDA business website, http://wda.allenmm.com, was established in 2004 and provides services available mainly to members only. These services include purchasing/renewing memberships, an electronic membership directory, ability to update personal contact information, voting in WDA elections, purchasing back issues of journals, and access to the programs and abstracts of the two most recent annual meetings. Through association with HighWire Press, the electronic version of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases was created in 2004 and is accessible at www.jwildlifedis.org. At present, the issues of the Journal published in the most recent 18 months are available to members only except that all issues are available free of charge to those in the 113 least economically developed countries of the world. All issues of the Journal published more than 18 months ago are freely available for viewing to everyone.

Shared communication at our annual meetings and through publications has been the primary focus of the Association throughout its history. However, the WDA has also collectively spoken out on important issues, including some that were quite controversial and caused dissension even among our own ranks. Resolutions, first approved by WDA council and then put to the membership for vote, have been passed, published, and distributed to various agencies on a diversity of subjects, eg: concern for the spread of foot and mouth disease northward via the Darien Gap Highway in Panama, the use of non-toxic shot to reduce waterfowl mortality from lead poisoning, and a request to The Wildlife Society to support and encourage its members and others to consider the potential short and long term adverse impacts that result form transmission of some diseases to native and indigenous species of wildlife (see Table 4 for complete list of WDA resolutions). The resolutions passed serve 1) to inform the public, government, and non-government agencies of the collective opinions of scientists with specialized expertise in wildlife disease issues and 2) to further the mission of our Association.

Table 1: Editors of Wildlife Disease Association


Publication Editor Term


Carlton M. Herman 1951-1959

Robert Holdenreid 1959-1962

Daniel O. Trainer 1962-1964

Jenny Powers 2008-2011
  Samantha Gibbs 2011-2016

Sarah Sirica 2017-Present

Wildlife Disease Newsletter

Charles P. Hibler 1978-1980

Sarah S. Hurley 1980-1982

William R. Davidson 1982-1989

Supplement to Journal of Wildlife Disease

Tonie E. Rocke 1989-1996

Charlotte F. Quist 1997-2002

Pauline Nol 2003-2008

Wildlife Disease (Microfiche)

Carlton M. Herman 1959-1972

Harry W. Huizinga 1972-1978

Emmett B. Shotts 1978-1981

Donald J. Forrester 1981-1986

Bulletin of the Wildlife Disease Association

Daniel O. Trainer 1965

Leslie A. Page 1965-1967

Lars H. Karstad 1968-1970

Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Lars H. Karstad 1970-1974

Charles P. Hibler 1974-1981

Donald J. Forrester 1981-1986

Danny B. Pence 1986-1991

Richard G. Botzler 1991-1996

Danny B. Pence 1996-2000

Elizabeth S. Williams 2001-2005

Elizabeth W. Howerth & David E. Stallknecht 2005-2009
  James N. Mills 2009-2016

Daniel Mulcahy 2017-Present

Website Editors

Jonna A. K. Mazet and N. Ottum 1997-1999

J. Lang 2000-2002

Michael H. Ziccardi 2002-2007

Bridget Schuler 2007-2010

Renee Carleton 2010-2012

Tammie O'Rourke 2012-2015
  Cindy Serraino 2015-Present

 Table 2: Officers of the Wildlife Disease Association


Office Name Term


Carlton M. Herman 1951-1959

Vice Chairman

David E. Davis 1954-1959


Carlton M. Herman 1959-1961

David E. Davis 1961-1963

Lars H. Karstad 1963-1965

John J. Christian 1965-1967

Archibald B. Cowan 1967-1969

Daniel O. Trainer 1969-1971

Lowell Adams 1971-1972

Leslie A. Page 1972-1973

Milton Friend 1973-1975

William G. Winkler 1975-1977

John G. Debbie 1977-1979

Donald J. Forrester 1979-1981

Roy C. Anderson 1981-1983

Annie K. Prestwood 1983-1985

Thomas M. Yuill 1985-1987

Robert E. Lange 1987-1989

Edward M. Addison 1989-1991

Louis N. Locke 1991-1993

David A. Jessup 1993-1995

Anne Fairbrother 1995-1997

Robert G. McLean 1997-1999

Tonie E. Rocke 1999-2001

Paul L. Barrows 2001-2003

K. Torsten H. Mörner 2003-2005

Scott D. Wright 2005-2007

Charles van Riper III 2007-2009

Lynn Creekmore 2009-2011

Dolores Gavier-Widén

Thierry Work 2013-2015
  Marcela Uhart 2015-2017
  Debra Miller 2017-2019
  Carlos das Neves

Vice President

David E. Davis 1959-1961

Lars H. Karstad 1961-1963

John J. Christian 1963-1965

Archibald B. Cowan 1965-1967

Daniel O. Trainer 1967-1969

Lowell Adams 1969-1971

Leslie A. Page 1971-1972

R. M. Robinson 1972-1975

Joan Budd 1975-1977

Donald J. Forrester 1977-1979

Gary A. Wobeser 1979-1981

Charles P. Hibler 1981-1983

E. Thomas Thorne 1983-1985

Werner P. Heuschele 1985-1987

Edward M. Addison 1987-1989

Elizabeth C. Burgess 1989-1991

David A. Jessup 1991-1993

Anne Fairbrother 1993-1995

Robert G. McLean 1995-1997

Tonie E. Rocke 1997-1999

William M. Samuel 1999-2001

K. Torsten H. Mörner 2001-2003

Scott D. Wright 2003-2005

Michael W. Miller 2005-2007

Lynn E. Creekmore 2007-2009

Dolores Gavier-Widén 2009-2011

Thierry Work 2011-2013

Marcela Uhart 2013-2015
  Debra Miller 2015-2017
  Carlos das Neves 2017-2019
  Andrew Peters


Robert Holdenreid 1959-1962

Daniel O. Trainer 1962-1965

Peter F. Olson 1965-1971

Milton Friend 1971-1973

Gerald L. Hoff 1974-1977

Annie K. Prestwood 1977-1980

Lynn Bishop 1980-1983

Sarah S. Hurley 1983-1985

Louis N. Locke 1986-1990

Paul L. Barrows 1990-1993

Kathryn Converse 1993-1996

Elizabeth W. Howerth 1996-1999

Lynn H. Creekmore 1999-2002

Margaret A. Wild 2003-2008

Pauline Nol 2008-2011

Perry Wolff 2011-2014

Carlos das Neves 2014-2017
  Maria Forzan 2017-Present


Archibald B. Cowan 1959-1963

Lowell Adams 1963-1969

Richard L. Beaudoin 1969-1975

Leslie A. Page 1975-1980

Thomas M. Yuill 1980-1985

A. Alan Kocan 1985-1990

Anne Fairbrother 1990-1993

William J. Adrian 1993-1996

Leslie S. Uhazy 1996-2002

Charlotte F. Quist 2002-2005

Carol U. Meteyer 2005-2008

Laurie Baeten 2008-2017
  Mike Ziccardi 2017-Present

Table 3: Countries Describing Fauna in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases


Date Volume Total Papers Number of Countries Percent Papers Outside US

2006 42 117 26 39
1996 32 117 17 33
1986 22 132 18 37
1976 12 106 17 34
1966  2  28  3 19

Table 4: Resolutions of the Wildlife Disease Association


Issue Year JWD Publication (Vol:Page No.)

Darien Gap Highway 1977        13:453
Role of Trapping in Disease Control 1978        15:154
African Swine Fever 1978        15:154
Non-toxic Shot 1980        17:319-320
Index-Catalogue of Medical and Veterinary Zoology 1981        18:121
Continuation of NWHC 1982        19:74
Ban On Lead Shot 1984        21:83
Eradication of Brucellosis/Tuberculosis Infected Bison in Wood Buffalo National Park 1989        26:152
Control of Duck Plague (Rescinded in 1997 due to procedural errors, 34:211) 1993        30:311
Request to Wildlife Society to Consider Adverse Impacts of Wildlife Disease 1994        31:444
Recognition of Animal Health Sciences as Critical in Management of Wildlife 2001        38:663
Guidelines on Euthanasia of Non-Domestic Animals 2006