Game Commission and Penn Vet partner to protect wildlife

White-nose syndrome has killed 99 percent of most cave-bat species. Chronic wasting disease continues to spread to new parts of Pennsylvania, infecting and killing deer and threatening hunting traditions. West Nile virus has left Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse, with an uncertain future. At no time in history has disease posed more problems for wildlife and its conservation.

Six deer in a meadow
The Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program will improve disease surveillance to safeguard wildlife and public health.

That’s why a new partnership between the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the School of Veterinary Medicine has formed to address those problems head-on.

Penn Vet and the Game Commission have announced the Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, a science-based, wildlife health program that will increase disease surveillance, management, and research to better protect wildlife across the Commonwealth.

For hunters who submit samples from deer they harvest for chronic wasting disease testing, the partnership will provide much faster turnaround for test results—about seven to 10 days as opposed to weeks or sometimes months—as well as the ability to track test results online.

But there are broader benefits, as well. 

The Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program will dedicate 12 employees, one of them working full-time out of the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters, to addressing wildlife diseases. Not only will that allow for more thorough disease documentation, research, and management, it will allow agency biologists to spend less time dealing with disease issues and more time focusing on managing wildlife populations.

Based out of Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center located in Kennett Square, Pa., the Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program will be led by ecologist Julie Ellis, and veterinarian and toxicologist Lisa Murphy.

“The Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program establishes a sustainable infrastructure for collaboration, and really represents a paradigm shift in managing wildlife disease,” says Ellis. “Not only are we charting a novel and comprehensive program that helps protect Pennsylvania wildlife, but ultimately, we are working to safeguard the health of Pennsylvania’s nearly 13 million residents from the potential impacts of wildlife disease.” 

Read more at Penn Vet News.