ease phenomena, trauma to endangered species, and control of overpopulation of wildlife in crowded habitats. For example, wildlife veterinarians and veterinary surgeons collaborated to develop techniques for minimally-invasive vasectomies of bull elephants in areas of southern Africa where elephant populations have the capacity to devastate plant communities, with secondary effects on a host of other species.
Success in the pursuit of wildlife medicine in academia can come about through involvement in public health and/or ecosystem health. For some individuals, preparation for such careers may include completing a Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine degree focused on wildlife. For others, it may include finishing a PhD that involves aspects of public health in an ecological context, such as focusing on vector reservoirs. Some DVM/PhD students who began their graduate work with a specific interest in wildlife health eventually become associated with public health organizations, such as state departments of public health or the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A new and important area of specialization for which specially trained veterinarians are well-equipped is disease ecology. For those who want to discover new knowledge needed in many aspects of wildlife and ecosystem health or, in the even more integrative discipline of One Health, a PhD and postdoctoral training can be invaluable.
Many wildlife veterinarians work in integrated programs of preventive medicine and research that simultaneously protect the health of wildlife, domestic animal, and human populations, in what might be called a “cross-sectorial” approach (Osofsky et al., 2008). The intensifying wildlife-livestock-human interface is increasingly motivating actions that have the potential to simultaneously protect public health and also biodiversity and agricultural biosecurity. Osofsky and his colleagues suggest that wildlife health and ecological sustainability depend on societal “buy-in” that is most reliably achieved when humans derive multiple health and economic benefits in the process. Ensuring such benefits and effectively communicating them has therefore become a core competency for some wildlife and ecosystem health specialists. An example of this kind of cross-sectorial approach to infectious disease is described in Box 7-4.
Protecting the health of populations of free-ranging wild animals is a different (and arguably greater) challenge than protecting the health of groups of domesticated or laboratory animals. With all species of non-human animals, responsibilities for health are shared—commonly involving veterinarians in leadership roles—with ample dependence on others. With domesticated animals, the others who influence health are generally owners of the animals who provide the economic resources for their care. In contrast, free-ranging wildlife are not owned by individuals or small groups of people; in accordance with state and federal laws, they are a public trust resource held by the government for the benefit of all citizens (Organ et al., 2010; Prukop and Regan, 2005). Laws and regulations that triggered this now long-standing but still evolving legal tradition