University of Saskatchewan graduate to lead national wildlife partnership

The Canadian Wildlife Health Co-operative (CWHC) has selected Dr. Craig Stephen, a wildlife health specialist and a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), as its new executive director.

Stephen will assume his new role on July 1, he will replace the CWHC's current executive director and co-founder, Dr. Frederick A. (Ted) Leighton, who is stepping down this summer.

The CWHC, formerly known as the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre, applies veterinary medical sciences to wildlife conservation and management as well as to health issues shared among wildlife, domestic animals and people.

The national partnership includes all five of Canada's veterinary colleges along with key partners in government and non-governmental organizations. The CWHC's national headquarters is based at the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

Stephen said he looks forward to working with the CWHC, particularly because of its reputation for developing workable solutions to tough problems by collaborating with universities and governments as well as the private sector.

"It is a critical time for wildlife health in Canada and globally," he said.  "New diseases, habitat loss, pollution and other pressures are causing tremendous challenges for wildlife. I am excited to be part of a team with the skills and passion to confront these challenges and work with the Canadian wildlife community to find solutions."

Stephen earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the WCVM in 1987. After several years spent working in a mixed animal practice, he returned to the U of S and earned a PhD in epidemiology doing his research into emerging infectious diseases in salmon.

"The University of Saskatchewan is excited to welcome back Dr. Stephen to this campus," said WCVM Dean Dr. Douglas Freeman, who also serves as chair of the CWHC's executive committee. "His international reputation and the valuable experience which he has amassed over the years will provide huge benefits in terms of wildlife health monitoring, disease surveillance and public health."

Stephen is the founding director and president of the Centre for Coastal Health — a non-profit organization which examines health issues that involve people, animals and their shared environment. He is experienced at working nationally and internationally to encourage collaborations across species and disciplines with the goals of preventing environmental risks and promoting healthy populations.

Through his efforts to promote global capacity in veterinary public health and his emphasis on emerging infectious diseases, Stephen has earned international acclaim and is a sought after speaker and consultant who has worked with a wide variety of organizations and governments.

Stephen has also held teaching roles at several post-secondary institutions including the University of Calgary, University of British Columbia and the U of S.

The CWHC provides public assurance, supports trade and informs wildlife conservation through a program of surveillance and scientific advice. In 2007, the CWHC was designated a Collaborating Centre of the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) dedicated to wildlife disease surveillance and monitoring, epidemiology and management.


For more information, contact:

Myrna MacDonald, Communications
Western College of Veterinary Medicine, U of S
Cell: 306-291-9950

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