Many of the wild animals in care provide a unique opportunity for
learning about environmental conditions and wild animal care and
rehabilitation. Wildlife conservation and health research often involves
capturing wild animals in nature and taking samples or placing
monitoring devices on them. With wildlife already in our care, we are
easily able to take samples and attach monitoring equipment with
relatively less stress during their regular care regime. The following are some
of the research and monitoring projects in which Wild ARC has been involved.
West nile virus monitoring
The West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that was named after
the West Nile region of Uganda, where the virus first appeared in 1937.
Most people who become infected experience no symptoms or have very mild
illness. The elderly, the very young, and those with suppressed immune
systems are most at risk for severe illness. The virus not spread by person to person contact or by bird to person contact.
WNV is primarily an avian virus spread by bird-biting mosquitoes. The
virus has been detected in over 225 bird species. Most bird species
survive WNV infection, however, corvids (crow and jay family) have a
high fatality rate, and testing of dead crows helps determine when WNV
is active in an area (BC Centre for Disease Control).
During the West Nile Season (May to September), Wild ARC is a WNV
monitoring site for the Vancouver Island Health Authority. In addition
to receiving dead birds from the public for submission to VIHA, Wild ARC
collects larval mosquito samples from local water bodies and captures
adult mosquitoes for testing.
Cryptococcus occurs naturally in the environment and has historically
been responsible for a small number of infections in British Columbia
each year, but reports have increased significantly since 1999. A fungus
that causes cryptococcal disease has been found growing on trees native
to Vancouver Island. This specific strain of fungus is more frequently
found on trees in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Exposure
to the spores of the fungus can lead to an infection of the lungs and
nervous system in both humans and animals (BC Centre for Disease
In 2004 and 2005, Wild ARC was a site of sample collection for
cryptococcus testing in wild mammals for the following research project:
Identification of Cryptococcus neoformans var. gattii
in wildlife on Vancouver Island, BC - Dr. John Campbell and Dr. Colleen
Duncan, Department of LACS, Western College of Veterinary Medicine,
Although 28 animals tested in the summer were negative, an adult mink
that died mysteriously in care in September 2004 was found to have high
levels of Cryptococcus neoformans var. gattii.
Wild ARC monitors migratory passerine birds in care for the presence
of ticks between April - August. Live ticks are collected and sent to
the project coordinator in Ontario where they are then identified. These
ticks provide valuable information on the dispersal of ticks across
Canada, especially during spring migration of birds. Ticks are vectors
for several serious diseases of humans and animals including Lyme
Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and others.
Presentations and committees
Wild ARC staff also participate in professional development by
presenting at conferences and sitting on different wildlife committees:
Wildlife Rehabilitators Network of BC AGM 2011 - Sustainable Wildlife Rehabilitation - Christina Carrieres
Wildlife Rehabilitators Network of BC AGM 2011 - Rehabilitation Lab Techniques - Melanie Gordon