Department of Environmental Conservation

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Wildlife Health

What Should I Do If I...

A fawn sitting in the woods
This fawn may appear abandoned,
but chances are its mother is
nearby. Fawns lack a scent that
adults have and that predators
can smell; therefore, adult females
will often keep some distance until
the fawn can walk and run better.

Managing and Diagnosing Wildlife Disease

New York State Wildlife Health Program

The New York State Cooperative Wildlife Health Program (WHP) is a partnership between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Bureau of Wildlife and Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (leaves DEC website) that works to safeguard the long-term health of the wildlife populations of New York. The Lab is a member of the Northeast Wildlife Disease Cooperative (leaves DEC website), which provides services, training, and support to state and federal agencies. The WHP is funded, in part, with monies from the Federal Aid In Wildlife Restoration Grant "NY W-178-R-2 NYS Wildlife Health.

Our laboratories in Albany and Ithaca conduct:

  • routine surveillance
  • in depth research
  • staff training
  • data analysis to support NYSDEC's mission

We work to have strong relationships with partners in human and domestic animal health to address issues common to all under the One Health philosophy.

Our program promotes the health and long term sustainability of wildlife populations through integration of the fields of wildlife ecology, wildlife management, and veterinary medicine. A major part of what we do is examine submitted animals to determine the cause of death. This type of surveillance helps us rapidly detect new diseases as well as understand how to manage what is already here. Information is regularly shared with our partners in the Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets.

The Wildlife Health Program Strategic Plan 2011-2015 (PDF, 1.7 MB) outlines the program initiatives, grounded in the "One Health" concept that identifies wildlife, domestic animal, and human health as closely interwoven.

The initial phase of the program will focus on:

  • developing coordinated wildlife disease diagnosis and monitoring
  • risk assessments and design of surveillance systems for diseases of concern
  • staff support and training
  • communication building with other state and federal partners
  • collaborative research efforts

Wildlife Health Unit at the Wildlife Resources Center

DEC's Wildlife Health Unit (WHU) at the Wildlife Resources Center is a part of the Wildlife Health Program that is responsible for handling deceased animals for examining, diagnosing, monitoring and (when needed) controlling the causes of sickness and death in New York State's amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Other duties of the WHU include:

  • providing forensic wildlife pathology services to DEC's law enforcement and other agencies
  • performing field investigations related to the impact of environmental contamination (e.g. oil spills, industrial discharges, pesticide use and misuse, hazardous waste sites, and landfills) on wildlife
  • conducting original research in the fields of wildlife pathology, physiology, and toxicology

The WHU at the Wildlife Resources Center is located at 108 Game Farm Road, Delmar, NY, 12054
Telephone: (518) 478-2203


More about Wildlife Health:

  • Reporting Dead Wildlife - Find out how to report, handle and submit dead animals to DEC's Wildlife Health Unit at the Wildlife Resources Center.
  • Wildlife Rehabilitators - For help with an injured wild animal, find a wildlife rehabilitator near you.
  • Animal Diseases - There are many different types of diseases that can affect the wildlife in New York State.
  • Feeding Wildlife - Learn about the negative impacts that occur when we feed wildlife.
  • Care of Young Wildlife - Information which is intended to help you decide when young wildlife need help and when to leave them alone.