Wildlife health surveillance is essential for managing habitat and ecosystems. It provides baseline data to determine whether wildlife is doing better or worse, and also provides insight into diseases that can be transferred between wildlife, humans, agricultural animals and domestic animals.
At our August general meeting we heard from Pam Whitely who runs Wildlife Health Victoria Surveillance from the University of Melbourne Veterinary School at Werribee. Pam investigates causes of wildlife death and poor health throughout Victoria, often relying on reports from the general public. Pam presented a series of wildlife case studies that included mite-induced mange in Koalas, dehydrated Ring Tail Possums, viral beak and feather disease in parrots, chytrid fungus infection and aluminium poisoning in frogs, waterbirds with bacterial infections, parasite infection and phalaris (grass) toxicity in Kangaroos, and a dolphin suffering from infection by a cat parasite. We also heard about rodenticide (eg Ratsak) poisoning of wildlife. WCS committee member Doug McNaughton contacted Pam regarding the death of several Tawny Frogmouths at Rosanna parklands. The bird that Pam examined had internal bleeding and rodent poison in its liver, suggesting that it died from eating poisoned mice.
Wildlife Health Victoria Surveillance is keen to gather data from across Victoria, particularly arid and alpine regions which are currently understudied. There is also a scarcity of information on reptiles. While reports from the Melbourne area are over-represented, Pam is likely to be interested in notable or large events. A flier explaining Wildlife Health Victoria Surveillance with contact details can be found here.