It can be challenging to get the most basic information about the health of free ranging wildlife because of the time and resources it takes to capture animals.
Our partnerships with wildlife biologists working on active field projects can be mutually beneficial as we can obtain baseline health data while identifying potential disease risks and causes of mortality in the population. Students from our program can also gain valuable insight into the challenges of field work by assisting with these projects.
Currently, Martin Feehan, a master’s degree student under Dr. Paul Curtis in the Department of Natural Resources, is capturing and collaring white-tailed deer neonates at Fort Drum Army Base outside of Watertown, NY to assess survival rates. Blood samples taken from the fawns are analyzed at our laboratory for evidence of exposure to diseases and parasites and to determine overall health. If the collar signals that the fawn has decreased activity, Martin and his team can locate the signal and check on the animal. Any mortalitites are submitted to our laboratory for examination.
This kind of shared project and the information produced can be invaluable for both biologists that need to predict population trends and health professionals investigating disease dynamics.