Deer in Pennsylvania woods

Surveillance and Diagnostics

Two people helping a turkey in a field

The Wildlife Futures Program aims to be the resource for wildlife health surveillance and diagnostic expertise for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and other partners.

Through our partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, we have been able to expand diagnostic capacities and capabilities for wildlife submissions, provide additional case management, assist in the fulfillment of wildlife management goals, and much more.

In addition to disease surveillance and diagnostic services, we also provide field support to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Our team of Wildlife Health Technicians are stationed in each of Pennsylvania Game Commission’s 6 regions across Pennsylvania to quickly respond to emerging wildlife health incidents.

Our Current Surveillance, Diagnostics and Field Support Initiatives:

Wildlife Health Technicians with a bear

Boots on the Ground: Wildlife Health Technicians

Our dedicated team of Wildlife Health Technicians (WHTs) work in the field with a "finger on the pulse" of wildlife health. This network of field-based staff, supervised by a wildlife veterinarian, conducts wildlife health surveillance in coordination with Pennsylvania Game Commission personnel, and responds to wildlife health reports from concerned citizens across the Commonwealth.


Shared Wildlife Health Information System Logo

Shared Wildlife Health Information System

The Wildlife Futures Program has been working to develop a wildlife health database that can be used by state fish and wildlife agencies for disease detection, reporting, and trend analysis. The Shared Wildlife Health Information System (SWHIS) was constructed with input from multiple state agencies across the region and was successfully released in October 2022.

Since its release in 2022, 8 state agencies have begun using SWHIS, and their stakeholder input is prioritized when it comes to the development of additional features and integrations.

For more information on SWHIS and how it can benefit your agency, visit



Diagnostics equipment for Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease Diagnostics

The Wildlife Futures Program performs critical testing of Pennsylvania wild deer and elk for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Testing is performed using both the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay test (ELISA) and ImmunoHistochemistry (IHC). Of the thousands of samples received each year, most are processed and tested during hunting season.

From July 2021 to June 2022, 8,111 ELISA and 2,578 IHC tests were performed by the Wildlife Futures Program, resulting in the detection of 236 CWD-positive wild white-tailed deer. Our results are shared with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to assist in the fulfillment of Pennsylvania Game Commission's management goals.



Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza

Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAI) is highly infectious and often causes fatal disease in domestic and wild birds. Since early 2022, WFP has been screening every wild bird it handles for the presence of this virus. Whether responding to a report of dead birds or deploying transmitters on wild turkeys to understand their ecology, our team collects swabs from these birds to test for HPAI. By early 2023, we had sampled over 750 wild birds throughout the state, detecting HPAI in 17 species across 26 Pennsylvania counties.

Read our HPAI factsheet and guidelines.


A person with gloves on putting a sample into a machine.

Pathology, Molecular, and Toxicology Diagnostic Services

The Wildlife Futures team is comprised of a diverse cadre of individuals and laboratories, that are able to provide expert assessment of wildlife health concerns across the state. We provide consultations for suspect cases of animal poisonings, emerging diseases, and unexpected or unexplained cause of death cases in wildlife