But that’s an example of what distinguishes the work of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC), which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
The Vancouver Rat Project is led by Dr. Chelsea Himsworth, a diagnostic pathologist and the CWHC’s regional director for British Columbia.
She says in the past 100 years virtually no progress has been made in ridding cities of rats. “And I think that’s partly because we kind of try and sweep it under the rug rather than deal with it in a scientific way.”
Her approach reflects the organization’s overall aim: to gather and use knowledge about health and disease in wildlife for the purpose of improving the health of animals—both wild and domestic—as well as people and the environment.
The CWHC began in 1992 as the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (becoming the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative in 2014). It was founded by two veterinary pathologists at the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine—Drs. Gary Wobeser and Frederick A. (Ted) Leighton.
Inspired by the American National Wildlife Health Care system, Wobeser and Leighton created an organization devoted to wildlife conservation and management in Canada through the collaboration of Canada’s four (now five) veterinary colleges. The two pathologists became co-directors of the CWHC, and later, Leighton became its first full-time executive director.