May 7, 2010

In the Spotlight: Wildlife Health Newsmaker Interview with Dr. Cindy Driscoll

NBII Wildlife Disease Information Node – Wildlife Disease News Digest
Wildlife Health Newsmaker Interview
Dr. Cindy Driscoll
07 May 2010

Who are you?
Dr. Cindy Driscoll
State Wildlife Veterinarian; Director of the Fish & Wildlife Health Program
Maryland Department of Natural Resources at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory
Oxford, Maryland, USA – Map It

What are you working on now?

Currently I am working on a number if interesting projects:

  • Analyzing results on a black bear health assessment and disease project with the Maryland Zoo;
  • Developing an interagency working group to address zoonotic diseases for state and federal agriculture, wildlife and public health agencies in our region;
  • Investigating White-Nose Syndrome in Maryland bat populations including a metagenomics study to determine viral exposures;
  • Summarizing contaminants research on stranded marine mammals in Maryland;
  • Beginning an endangered species project with State of Virginia biologists to explore sea turtle health, pathology and diet preferences for the Chesapeake Bay;
  • ..... for more

How does your work benefit or impact the knowledge of wildlife diseases?

I hope that most of what I attempt to do contributes to the field of wildlife health and disease research. Encouraging wildlife biologists and managers to look at wildlife from a disease and health perspective is part of my job. These folks are willing participants in sampling and necropsy workshops, and eager to increase their knowledge bases for the animals in their charge.

Additionally, my love of working in the field of wildlife disease research is enhanced by educating and nurturing young professionals in our field and helping them to appreciate natural resources and the world around them. These young people bring new fresh approaches to wildlife issues and will be the future of our profession.

What do you see as the most significant challenge for wildlife health professionals today working in the field of wildlife disease?

From my perspective the most challenging issue is funding for all types of wildlife disease work – especially long-term studies. The reactive nature of approaches to wildlife disease is fundamental to most agencies. Proactive and long-term research is often sacrificed for the “problem of the day.” States are suffering from loss of staffing positions and budget cuts. Monies are limited currently, but hopefully will increase with a recovering economy.

With what informational resource (e.g. book, journal, website, etc.) should any wildlife health professional be familiar?

Many federal and regional agencies have excellent websites with readily available free resources for wildlife professionals:
Additionally – professional organizations provide another good source for information:

American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians (AAWV)
Wildlife Disease Association (WDA)
American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM)

The Journal of Wildlife Diseases is an excellent source of in depth articles on new and long-term wildlife disease research.

What is your most significant accomplishment?

While pursuing my professional career – being able to raise my beautiful daughter (now 20 years old) with the constant support of an amazing husband. Second to that would be - being the first state wildlife veterinarian in MD and on the East Coast – and the first marine mammal veterinarian for the US DOC/NOAA Office of Protected Resources.