“Wildlife Health” is more than just the presence or absence of disease—it is the ability of wildlife to thrive in a changing environment. The health and resiliency of wildlife is influenced by many factors such as genetics, physiological capacity, disease status, exposure to environmental threats and pollution, interactions with human populations, and climate change. A broad perspective is needed to understand the interactions of these social and environmental factors when assessing and managing the health of wildlife.
Why Wildlife Health Matters
A healthy environment that includes thriving, resilient wildlife populations is, in turn, fundamental to the health and socioeconomic well being of humans. Environment, wildlife, and human health are interconnected and intimately influence each other. Wildlife is thought to be responsible for many of the emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) around the world. EIDs, introduced diseases, climate change, and pollution continue to impact conservation, public health, and economies. At a time of unprecedented environmental change, safeguarding the health of wildlife is increasingly important.
Consulting Program Director
Tristan Burgess, B.V.Sc., PhD
BRI’s veterinarians collect comprehensive baseline health data on the many species we study. This vital information will help wildlife professionals better evaluate the health of free-ranging and captive species. In addition, BRI’s Wildlife Health Program conducts infectious disease surveillance, including viral, fungal, and parasitic infections, to monitor pathogens of conservation and zoonotic concern among wild populations. Representative projects focused on wildlife health monitoring include:
BRI’s wildlife health program investigates the complex linkages between exposure to environmental contaminants and health. By investigating ongoing and emerging sources of pollutants, BRI is working to preserve the health of ecosystems upon which humans and wildlife depend. Representative toxicology studies include:
Fully equipped for mobile anesthesia and surgery, BRI’s wildlife veterinarians can offer technical veterinary expertise for wildlife research projects such as satellite transmitter implantations. By providing the highest standard of veterinary care, BRI promotes both ethical treatment of individuals as well as successful research outcomes.
By conducting comprehensive post-mortem examinations, BRI’s veterinarians gather vital data on causes of mortality, disease, toxicology, and overall health status of many wildlife species. This information helps guide conservation priorities and policy. Information from wildlife necropsies contribute to the following studies:
The Wildlife Health Program utilizes in house diagnostic capabilities through BRI’s wildlife pathology and analytical labs.
Wildlife epidemiology is the science of understanding health and disease in animal populations (rather than just individual animals). Wildlife epidemiology helps us understand the causes of novel wildlife health problems, determine the importance of health threats to conservation planning and even to understand and manage the risks posed to animal and human health by movement or transport of animals and pathogens around the world.
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