National Wildlife Health Center

...advancing wildlife and ecosystem health

Envirovet Networking Webumentary

Leslie Dierauf
National Wildlife Health Center
Director 2003 - 2008

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Here at the National Wildlife Health Center we may be working in a laboratory situation or a field situation and not always having our hands on live animals but the reason we do it is because we have a passion for wildlife health, a passion for populations of wildlife, not just the individual animal.

In the veterinary field pathologists and epidemiologists think very differently from wildlife biologists and wildlife ecologists. But they can’t survive without one another. Otherwise they’re studying disease or wildlife in a silo without the bigger picture. Each wildlife disease we study has a connection to the greater good and I think that’s what makes studying wildlife disease so fascinating because you’re really not just studying the disease and you’re not just studying the animal, and you’re not just studying the population, you’re studying how the environment affects the disease and how the disease affects the environment.

Animals are the window into the health around us. You know, they’re the perfect model for studying the environment. They’re in their own little laboratory outdoors all the time and we need to pay attention to them because they’re trying to tell us something.

I have a friend who works for the state government in California and she says “You know, Les, there are some people that want it all and there are some people that have it all, meaning ‘passion’.” and she said “You choose between material things and emotional things and if you fall into the latter category, maybe you’re just not going to make as much money as the other guy but you’re going to be a hell of lot happier.

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