WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS_ VETERINARIANS_ AND WILDLIFE

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					WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS, VETERINARIANS, AND
     WILDLIFE DISEASE SPECIALISTS:
   NEED AND MECHANISMS FOR IMPROVED
            COLLABORATION




         Michael Hutchins, Ph.D.
         Executive Director/CEO
         The Wildlife Society
THE CHALLENGE
  OF DISEASE

           •Diseases that affect wildlife,
               domestic animals and
               humans are big news.

           •Some of this is driven by
              legitimate concern and some
              by ignorance, irrational fear,
              and media hype.

           •The important questions are:

           -Who will be a voice of reason in
              a world of sensationalist
              headlines?

           -Who will educate the public and
              key decision makers about
              both real and imagined
              threats?
NEW CULTURAL ICONS?


        •   Disease organisms are
            even becoming cultural
            “icons”.

        •   Who hasn’t heard of Bird
            Flu, Ebola, or Monkey
            Pox?

        •   “Popular” diseases now
            have their own line of
            plush toys!
DISEASE IS A FACT OF LIFE
   WHY IS THIS AN ISSUE NOW?

            Risks may be greater now, due to:
            -Dense human, domestic animal, and wildlife
            populations.
            -Close proximity between humans, domestic
            animals, and wildlife.
            -Global travel and transport of organisms (and
            diseases).
            -Climate change.
            -Emerging and evolving disease organisms.
            -Elimination of many diseases from domestic
            animal populations.
            -Human activities, such as translocation,
            baiting and supplemental feeding, and private
            breeding/hunting facilities, which artificially
            concentrate animals and increase the risk of
            disease transmission.



  SCWDS
IMPLICATIONS FOR
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AND
      CONSERVATION

         •   The implications for wildlife
             management and
             conservation are clear.

         •   Disease or its management is
             another factor that could
             drive wildlife populations
             toward extinction.

         •   Small populations are at great
             demographic risk.

         •   Real or perceived health risks
             to humans and domestic
             animals also affect our ability
             to conserve wildlife.
   WILDLIFE DISEASE
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
       Possible responses to disease outbreaks:
       Active
       •Assess risk to humans, domestic animals, and
       threatened or endangered species.
       •Cull affected individuals or populations to halt
       spread of the disease.
       • Reduce density to reduce the chance of
       transmission.
       •Treat affected individuals or populations to halt
       spread of the disease.
       Passive
       •Do not intervene, simply monitor and let the
       disease run its course.
       What we actually can do is affected by context:
       knowledge (or lack thereof), existing
       technology, logistics, and human attitudes and
       perceptions.
          WILDLIFE DISEASE
WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT IT?


                  •How much intervention is
                  necessary, effective, or desirable?
                  •What are the evolutionary impacts
                  of intervention on population
                  health?
                  •We should realize that wildlife-
                  human-domestic animal diseases
                  are an ecological issue, featuring
                  complex interactions between host,
                  agent and environment.
                  •In some cases, doing nothing
                  maybe the best strategy for the
 SCWDS/T.Kreger
                  long term.
 WHO SHOULD BE
ADDRESSING THIS ISSUE?


               -The experts:
               •Veterinarians, other wildlife
               disease specialists, and
               relevant professional
               organizations.
               •Wildlife biologists/ managers/
               conservationists and their
               professional organizations.
               -Key decision makers.
WHAT WILDLIFE VETERINARIANS /OTHER
   WILDLIFE DISEASE SPECIALISTS
             BRING TO THE TABLE


                     -Wildlife veterinarians
                     bring their knowledge of
                     and ability to diagnose
                     and treat disease.

                     -Pathologists bring their
                     ability to detect and study
                     reasons for mortality.

                     -Epidemiologists bring
                     their knowledge of how
                     diseases spread through
                     and between populations.
     SCWDS
             WHAT
WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS/MANAGERS
       BRING TO THE TABLE


               •Wildlife biologists/ managers
               bring their:
               -hands-on experience with
               wildlife.
               -their knowledge of wildlife
               biology, including social
               organization and behavior,
               demography, and movement
               patterns.
               -knowledge of ecology, habitat
               quality.
               -knowledge of how to
               manage/control wildlife
               populations.
WHAT WILDLIFE VETS/DISEASE SPECIALISTS AND
           BIOLOGIST/MANAGERS
              CAN DO TOGETHER


               •   Jointly develop science-based
                   solutions to real or perceived wildlife
                   disease issues.

               •   Work together to implement solutions
                   on-the-ground.

               •   Educate the media, public and key
                   decisions makers.

               •   Lobby for appropriate policy and
                   necessary funding to address wildlife
                   disease issues.
EXAMPLE: UNIVERSITY OF TENNESEE’S
     AMPHIBIAN DISEASE PROGRAM


                •   UT team led by Matt Gray,
                    Debra Miller and others is
                    studying the relationship
                    between cattle, water quality,
                    disease organisms (E. coli
                    and Rana virus), and
                    amphibian health.

                •   Involves both field and
                    laboratory studies.

                •   Example of effective
                    cooperation between wildlife
                    biologists, vets and disease
                    specialists.
IMPROVED MECHANISMS
   FOR COOPERATION

        How can wildlife vets, disease specialists
             and biologist/managers better
             collaborate?
        Improved Communication and
             Interdisciplinary Training
        -Join each other’s organizations.
        -Attend each other’s conferences.
        -Publish in each other’s journals, popular
              magazines, and newsletters.
        -Organize and participate in relevant cross-
              disciplinary training workshops.
        -Serve on appropriate collaborative
              working groups or committees (e.g.,
              TWS’ Wildlife Diseases Working
              Group).
TWS WILDLIFE DISEASE
    WORKING GROUP


          •   A forum for wildlife
              biologist/managers and
              veterinarians to interact,
              communicate, and
              collaborate.

          •   Current MOU between TWS
              and the Wildlife Disease
              Association—a sister
              organization that represents
              vets, other disease
              specialists and biologists
              with an interest in wildlife
              disease issues.
IMPROVED MECHANISMS
  FOR COOPERATION (cont.)


              Combine expertise in collecting and
                 analyzing information on wildlife
                 disease.
              • What do we know about a given
                 disease?
              • Does it occur naturally or is it
                 introduced?
              • How does it spread and what are
                 its effects on individuals and
                 populations?
              • What are the real risks to
                 humans, domestic animals, and
                 wildlife?
              Recommendations:
              • What are the options (if any) for
                 intervention?
              • Should we monitor?
              • Should we intervene?
              • If so, when and how?
GATHERING INFORMATION:
  REVIEWING THE SCIENCE

              •TWS’ Technical Report process
                 could provide a model for
                 collaborative information
                 gathering.

              •Interdisciplinary panels of
                  experts are convened to
                  review what we know about a
                  particular issue and to make
                  recommendations.

              •Reports are edited, produced
                 and distributed.

              •Science-based reports provide
                 the basis for policy statements
                 and press releases.
 GETTING INFORMATION TO
THE PUBLIC AND KEY DECISION MAKERS


                    •Develop joint policy
                       statements (based on
                       technical reports).

                    • Develop joint press releases.

                    •Develop summary reports and
                       fact sheets for key decision
                       makers.

                    • Publish in popular
                       magazines/newspaper op
                       eds.

                    •Lobby key decision makers for
                       improved policies and make
                       the case for sufficient state
                       and federal funding.
                CONCLUSIONS
                    •   Diseases that affect wildlife,
                        domestic animals and humans
                        deserve increased attention.

                    •   However, there is great opportunity
                        for misinformation, sensationalism,
                        and knee-jerk decision making.

                    •   Existing networks of wildlife
                        biologists/managers, veterinarians,
                        and other wildlife disease specialists
                        could help find solutions,
                        particularly through collaboration.

                    •   All have critical and unique
                        expertise, that when combined,
                        make them powerful allies.

                    •   The results of this collaboration
                        should extend beyond the field and
                        into the realms of information
                        gathering, policy development, and
Bird flu cure           public relations.

				
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