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Forward-thinking Wildlife Futures Program Recognized

By Travis Lau | Pennsylvania Game Commission Published: May 20, 2021

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Game Commission honored for taking proactive approach to wildlife health.

The Northeast Wildlife Administrators Association of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in April honored the Pennsylvania Game Commission for the agency’s forward-thinking in establishing its Wildlife Futures Program.

Launched in 2019, the Wildlife Futures Program is a science-based, wildlife health partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine serving to strengthen the resilience of the Commonwealth's 480 species of wild birds and mammals. This public-private partnership will significantly advance wildlife health, disease research and surveillance in the Northeast. 

The program has already established a new Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing facility, a ruffed grouse siting tool, threat-assessment documents for SARS-CoV-2 in bats and mink, a risk assessment for Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, and a CWD Data Visualization Tool that also improves wildlife agency transparency.

“It has been great to see what progress the Wildlife Futures Program has made and the support the partnership has provided to Game Commission staff,” Game Commission Wildlife Management Bureau Director Matthew Schnupp said. “This program has allowed our agency to respond proactively to wildlife health issues, rather than reactively like we did in the past.”

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has made these research surveillance and database tools available to other wildlife agencies with a goal of strengthening the regional focus on wildlife disease ecology.

“For this significant contribution, the Northeast Wildlife Administrators Association, on behalf of wildlife conservation professionals, recognizes the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wisdom and achievement in establishing the Wildlife Futures Program, and its current and future contributions to not only Pennsylvania but across the Northeast, and expresses its appreciation and gratitude for making the benefits of this program available to other wildlife agencies,” said Northeast Wildlife Administrators Association Chair Mark Scott.

The Northeast Wildlife Administrators Association was established to further the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ purpose of promoting the conservation and management of wildlife resources by directing and charging Technical Working Committees with results-driven and science-based management actions, developing actions, implementing recommendations, and advising the Directors of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies on issues relating to wildlife policy and administration, funding opportunities, and research and management priorities; and providing opportunities for members to collaborate and exchange information on matters relating to wildlife conservation and management within the Northeast Region.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans accepted the award on behalf of the agency.

“I’m proud of the partnership the Game Commission and the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine have forged with the Wildlife Futures Program,” Burhans said. “With so many diseases threatening wildlife and hunting and trapping traditions, a proactive approach to wildlife health has never been more important, and conservationists across the country who work to meet these same challenges recognize that, too.”


About Penn Vet

Ranked among the top ten veterinary schools worldwide, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) is a global leader in veterinary education, research, and clinical care. Founded in 1884, Penn Vet is the first veterinary school developed in association with a medical school. The school is a proud member of the One Health initiative, linking human, animal, and environmental health.

Penn Vet serves a diverse population of animals at its two campuses, which include extensive diagnostic and research laboratories. Ryan Hospital in Philadelphia provides care for dogs, cats, and other domestic/companion animals, handling nearly 35,300 patient visits a year. New Bolton Center, Penn Vet’s large-animal hospital on nearly 700 acres in rural Kennett Square, PA, cares for horses and livestock/farm animals. The hospital handles nearly 5,300 patient visits a year, while the Field Service treats more than 38,000 patients at local farms. In addition, New Bolton Center’s campus includes a swine center, working dairy, and poultry unit that provide valuable research for the agriculture industry.

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