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Never a Dull Moment for APHIS Wildlife Veterinarians

Posted by Dr. Pauline Nol, APHIS Veterinary Epidemiologist, Fort Collins, CO in Animals Plants
Feb 21, 2017

Hello, my name is Dr. Pauline Nol.  I’m a veterinary epidemiologist for USDA APHIS.  As a veterinarian and a researcher, I’ve worked in the wildlife health field since 1999, starting my career at the United States Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis.

I joined APHIS’s Wildlife/Livestock Disease Investigations Team in 2003.  Our job is to learn more about diseases that affect both livestock and wildlife populations, and to use this knowledge to provide guidance to our partners and other agencies that manage wildlife populations.  We’re also highly involved in using science to help find solutions for disease problems that occur when livestock and wildlife come together.

On a daily basis, we run studies that are geared towards gathering and developing data so we can put management tools into practice.  We’re always looking for new and better ways to detect diseases in wildlife.  We also work to develop vaccines that help prevent, reduce and/or eliminate disease.

I thoroughly enjoy my job as a veterinarian, and in particular a wildlife veterinarian, because I’m always stretching my potential.  It is very rewarding to work with folks from other agencies and universities, while trying to meet a common goal.  My team is always reaching out to other experts, both here in the U.S. and from other countries.  We do good work and it is fulfilling to know our work provides a positive influence for managing wildlife.  A great example of our collaborative efforts is a project we did with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s Wildlife Services, Colorado State University’s Animal Population Health Institute, and University of Otago in New Zealand on a preliminary study on vaccines for Bovine Tuberculosis in white-tailed deer.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve done in my career.

I will say that there are intense moments.  When I was working with bison in a chute, one of the animals actually broke the chute.  It looked like the bison was trying to jump into my arms!  I was able to run away and everything was fine… but it just serves to remind you that these are wild animals we work with – and they are unpredictable.  There’s never a dull moment when you work with wildlife!

APHIS and USDA are joining with organizations around the world to celebrate World Veterinary Year by highlighting the work of veterinarians on the USDA blog.  This post is part of a series underscoring the important and diverse work of APHIS veterinarians.  Check back each Thursday as we showcase the work of a different veterinarian.

Category/Topic: Animals Plants

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Tyler Thacker
Aug 26, 2011

Nice article. It does sound like you have an exciting job.