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Exploring wildlife medicine in a summer externship

By: Martin J. Hackett Date: May 17, 2024
Brianna Blunck and Natalie Bauer standing in front of sign
Brianna Blunck and Natalie Bauer, School of Veterinary Medicine students graduating with their VMD, participated in the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Veterinary Externship last summer. (Image: Courtesy of Natalie Bauer)

Last summer, two University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine VMD students from the class of 2024 participated in the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Veterinary Externship, a highly competitive 4-week program that culminates in a final project.

In Wyoming, Brianna Blunck researched endangered black-footed ferrets, an experience that involved “stumbling around in the night with flashlights, trying to find and identify ferrets for population surveillance,” she says. Blunck did her final project on disease prevalence in bighorn sheep, investigating the cause of abortions recently noted in Wyoming.

“This externship was such a great exposure to the many routes I can take within wildlife medicine including field work and pathology,” Blunck says.

Blunck and Natalie Bauer have long been interested in wildlife medicine and both hold a master’s degree in conservation medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Bauer, assigned to the National Park Service, also worked on a project to track and treat black-footed ferrets, this one in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

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