U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

July 2007


Henke, S.E., A.M. Fedynich, and T.A. Campbell. 2007. Wildlife disease management: an insurmountable challenge? Pages 279–294 in T.E. Fulbright and D.G. Hewitt, editors. Frontiers in wildlife science: linking ecological theory and management applications. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA.


Wildlife biologists are increasingly being thrust onto the frontlines of wildlife disease management and surveillance in the United States. For example, biologists now routinely engage in oral vaccination of wildlife [e-g., Oral Rabies Vaccination Programs (QRVPs)] and collect specimens for both diagnostic purposes and disease surveillance or monitoring (e.g., avian influenza in migratory bids). For many, these responsibilities are novel compared to the more traditional roles of population estimation. habitat manipulation, and formulation of harvest recommendations. Wildlife disease investigation and management, in reality, we in their infancy compared with disciplines of human and domestic animal disease management. The recent focus wildlife diseases is attributable to (1) the emergence of zoonoses that have a clear wildlife component (c-g., Lyme disease), (2) the recognition that wildlife can serve as reservoirs for diseases important to domestic animals (e.g., pseudorabies), (3) the increase in game farming and the associated risk of disease transmission to free-living wildlife (e.g., chronic wasting disease], (4) recognition of risks associated with the translocation of wildlife, and (5) intensified management for species at risk of extinction (Wobeser 22002). Clearly, interest in wildlife diseases and their management will continue to expand as humans, livestock, and wildlife come into closer contact as a direct or indirect result of the burgeoning human population.