How to start up a national wildlife health surveillance programme

Becki Lawson*, Aleksija Neimanis, Antonio Lavazza, Jorge Ramón López-Olvera, Paul Tavernier, Charalambos Billinis, Paul Duff, Daniel T. Mladenov, Jolianne M. Rijks, Sara Savić, Gudrun Wibbelt, Marie Pierre Ryser-Degiorgis, Thijs Kuiken

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
202 Downloads (Pure)


Whilst multiple countries in Europe have wildlife health surveillance (WHS) programmes, they vary in scope. In many countries, coordinated general surveillance at a national scale is not conducted and the knowledge of wildlife health status in Europe remains limited. Learning lessons from countries with established systems may help others to effectively implement WHS schemes. In order to facilitate information exchange, the WHS Network of the European Wildlife Disease Association organised a workshop to both collate knowledge and experience from countries that had started or expanded WHS programmes and to translate this information into practical recommendations. Presentations were given by invited representatives of European countries with different WHS levels. Events that led to the start-up and fostered growth spurts of WHS were highlighted, including action plan creation, partnership formation, organisation restructuring and appraisal by external audit. Challenges to programme development, such as a lack of funding, data sharing, infrastructural provision and method harmonisation, were explored. Recommendations to help overcome key challenges were summarised as: understanding and awareness; cross-sectoral scope; national-scale collaboration; harmonisation of methods; government support; academic support; other funding support; staff expertise and capacity; leadership, feedback and engagement; and threat mitigation and wildlife disease management. This resource may enable the development of WHS programmes in Europe and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2543
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The intensity of surveillance and funding sources varied greatly per country, with the number of animals examined post-mortem ranging from 30 to 5000 per year for general surveillance programmes, and from tens to tens of thousands per year for targeted surveillance programmes. By far the most important funding for WHS was provided by national governments, with additional funding from hunter organisations, universities, research projects, non-governmental organisations, the agricultural industry and environmental organisations.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Dive into the research topics of 'How to start up a national wildlife health surveillance programme'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this