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Environment, Energy and Transportation

California’s New Wildlife Surveillance System Introduced To Stop The Spread of Disease

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CALM Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Diseases among wildlife can wipe out populations and in some cases spread to humans. A new surveillance system is being piloted in California that would detect possible threats in nature before they have time to spread.

The Wildlife Morbidity and Mortality Event Alert System is designed to track threats to California’s wildlife by tapping into data from rehabilitation groups across the state. The rehab centers nurse sick and injured wildlife back to health. Since they work closest to sick and dying animals, these groups are the best source of early warning signs about potential health threats.

Dr. Pranav Pandit, a researcher on the project, says the new system sifts through massive amounts of data.

“It’s great that this is coming all together and really contributing and giving us some great intelligence about population health," Dr. Pandit said.

The surveillance system uses machine learning and other advanced technology to scan data from wildlife rehabilitation centers across the state. The rehab centers generate a lot of raw data that is stored in computers scattered across the state. Dr. Pandit says this new system allows that data to be analyzed and put to good use.

“Basically, this is very complementary to all of the other active services that are going on for variant species in California,” said Dr. Pandit.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is already using the system for conservation efforts.