Wildlife Mortality Investigations
Postmortem diagnostic examinations are an important service provided by SCWDS. During the past quarter century, experienced SCWDS diagnosticians have investigated thousands of cases of sick and dying wild animals involving many different species of wildlife. The diagnostic process generally includes a full postmortem evaluation, including gross and histopathology and additional tests as needed (e.g., bacterial and fungal culture, PCR for targeted infectious agents, special histochemical stains, immunohistochemistry, toxicology assays, and others), all aimed at determining cause of illness or death.
With the multitude of wildlife disease problems confronting the United States, wildlife diagnostic, surveillance, and research capabilities must be supported by appropriate field investigations. SCWDS personnel often assist member wildlife agencies with field investigations of wildlife mortality events, as well as wildlife disease research projects. The long-term cooperative support from state and federal wildlife agencies allows coordination of resources of all agencies involved.
Over the years, these investigations have generated a broad base of expertise and have revealed those recurring disease problems that are important in each wildlife species. Our Wildlife Research and Diagnostic Service allows wildlife professionals in SCWDS member agencies to monitor wild animals for potential health problems. This service also provides the opportunity to train SCWDS diagnosticians, graduate students and pathology residents for careers that contribute to a better understanding of wildlife population health.