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Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study

Mission

The objectives of SCWDS have always been to:

  • detect causes of sickness and death in wildlife
  • define the impact of diseases and parasites upon wild animal populations
  • delineate disease interrelationships between wildlife and domestic livestock
  • determine the role of wildlife in transmission of human diseases

Historical photo showing men out in the field with a tranquilized deer

History of SCWDS

The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study was founded in 1957 by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies to determine the cause of widespread die-offs of white-tailed deer. Headquarters and support facilities were made available through agreement with the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Ga. This became the first diagnostic and research service to be established for the specific purpose of investigating wildlife diseases.

Prior to inception of SCWDS, knowledge of wildlife diseases in the Southeast was almost nonexistent. Sickness or death among wild animals spawned speculations, accusations, and wild myths, particularly when livestock were nearby. Shortly after its formation, SCWDS began to provide answers to many long-standing questions. The obvious useful new information attracted immediate attention, and state wildlife agency funding was soon followed by annual USDI-administered grants and later by USDA support. Thus, SCWDS grew from a small project with one mission to a versatile, multipurpose wildlife disease research and service organization.

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