New program aims to help improve research into wildlife diseases

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine are teaming up in the hopes of better addressing diseases among the Commonwealth's wildlife.

The Game Commission and Penn Vet will introduce the Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, a wildlife health program aimed at increasing disease surveillance, management and research.

The partnership aims to provide a faster turnaround for hunters who submit samples from deer they harvest for chronic wasting disease testing, the Game Commission said in a news release.

The goal is to reduce the turnaround time to about seven to 10 days as opposed to weeks or months, the Game Commission said.

12 employees will be involved in the program, one of whom will be working full-time out of the Game Commission's Harrisburg headquarters, the Commission said.

The employees will be responsible for addressing wildlife diseases, such as white-nose syndrome in cave bats and West Nile virus, the Commission said.

The arrangement will allow for more disease documentation, research and management, the Game Commission said.

The program will also allow agency biologists to spend less time dealing with disease issues and more time focusing on managing wildlife populations, the Game Commission said.

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