WILDLIFE HEALTH 101

WHAT IS WILDLIFE HEALTH?

Wildlife health is a two sided coin. On one side is the capacity of fish and wildlife to thrive in a changing world. On the other are safe and sustainable relations between wildlife and society.

Wildlife are healthy when they can sustain their ecological roles and be part of the social and cultural fabric of Canada. When they flourish in the face of changing environments and human pressures and can cope with diseases or other stresses, they are healthy. Healthy wildlife do not present disease risks to us or our domestic animals and when harvested, provide safe and sustainable food.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT

Wildlife are part of all of our lives and they lie at the very heart of the Canadian identity. Urbanization has brought wildlife to where most of us live. The wildlife economy is huge and growing. Interactions between wildlife and agriculture affect international trade and food production. Diseases are shared between wildlife, domestic animals and people.

Now, more than ever, it is important to safeguard wildlife health. Decisions need to be made about how to protect wildlife in the face of human population growth, resource development, urbanization, pollution and more. Those decisions need to be made before new diseases emerge, pollution causes population declines, wildlife infections spread to people, or the safety of a country's food is compromised. Options to respond to such threats are few and often slow. Finding and communicating early clues to prevent new threats and aid in recovery from others is key to ensuring we maintain wildlife health.