Wildlife Research Collaborations

Think Wild is proud to be involved in a variety of wildlife research collaborations with wildlife biologists and researchers from Oregon State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Eagle Environmental Inc., and more. We work to facilitate research projects as a means of furthering scientific understanding of native wildlife biology, disease, and veterinary medicine. The results of these studies help inform our conservation efforts and wildlife rehabilitation, keeping us on the cutting edge of these issues.

Read about some of our current scientific collaborations below.

Leptospirosis Prevalence and Diversity in Oregon Wildlife

Kathleen Woodley, PhD candidate, Comparative Health Sciences, Oregon State University
Leptospirosis, an infection caused by a bacterial parasite, has been on the rise in Oregon, causing illness in wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. While the infection is still relatively rare, investigating its prevalence and diversity is helpful for formulating the best defense. Leptospira have been known to persist in rodent kidneys, but this connection has not been investigated in Oregon, nor would it explain the recent surges in infections.
It is the goal of this study to investigate the possible wildlife reservoir(s) of infectious leptospira in oregon. Several organizations have agreed to participate in this study by collecting samples to be evaluated at Oregon State University as part of a Phd research project by Kacy Woodley. The diversity of samples provided by Think Wild is extremely helpful in surveillance and detection in uncommon wildlife.

Post-release Survival Rate of Golden Eagles following Clinical Rehabilitation

Robert K. Murphy, Ph.D., Wildlife Biologist, Eagle Environmental, Inc
Data collection for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service study, “Post-release Survival Rate of Golden Eagles following Clinical Rehabilitation,” is quickly winding down, with only five rehabilitated-released (“RR”) Golden Eagles still being monitored via satellite telemetry as of 31 December 2022. The total sample for the study will be about 25 individuals, depending on availability of data from several RR Goldens tracked previously by other researchers.
Objectives of the study are to estimate post-release survival rate of rehabilitated and released Golden Eagles and compare the estimate to that of free-ranging Goldens that never received rehabilitation care or were otherwise held in captivity. Results will be used to assess whether the average eagle that is “saved” via rehabilitation can “replace” one that is lost due to take allowed under permit from USFWS, such as losses due to electrocution or collision with energy infrastructure.
Nearly all eagles in the study were recovered in either Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, or New Mexico. Individuals recovered when less than ~10 months old were excluded from the study. Eagles mainly had been rehabilitated from collision injuries especially vehicle collisions, and were in rehabilitation for 2-12 months, including pre-release conditioning.

Integrating host susceptibility, viral genomics, and surveillance to uncover cryptic animal reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2” being submitted to the USDA APHIS

Brianna Beechler, DVM, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University
Understanding disease transmission at the human-wildlife interface is expressly important to wildlife rehabilitation facilities. This study seeks to understand what SARS-CoV strains are in our mammalian wildlife in Oregon and if they are spreading wildlife to wildlife, human to wildlife or wildlife to human (or what combination there-of).
Think Wild is excited to provide samples for this study from the diverse species of mammals that come into our care, including the many animals common at the human-animal interface, such as skunks, raccoons, and porcupines. Think Wild’s animal care staff will take nasal swabs of mammals in our care and send samples back to the OSU lab for viral testing. The molecular study involves whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV strains from the sampled wildlife (human is already done regularly and available publicly), creating a library of ACE2 receptors (the receptor in the host the virus uses to get in) and doing some phylogenetic work to understand patterns.
In the two-year period of the study, Think Wild expects to submit samples from up to 180 Oregon mammals to OSU for testing. We are excited to pursue this collaboration and learn more about SARS-CoV-2 at the human-wildlife interface.

Extraordinary prevalence and intensity of a parasitic nematode in trout and whitefish from the Deschutes river

Jay Bowerman, Principal Researcher at Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory

The purpose for obtaining adult specimens of the nematode worms is to determine the precise species of parasite, as the larval worms found in fish cannot be definitively identified from their physical features, and no one has yet published the genomic description of the adults that would allow us to identify the larvae from their DNA.

Learn more here. 

Porcupette Rehabilitation Survey

Ainsley Robertson, Undergraduate Student at University of Guelph, Canada

The purpose of this study is to support rehabilitation centers in evidence-informed practices to successfully re-introduce orphaned North American porcupines into the wild. Participants are asked questions on their professional and academic backgrounds, experience with porcupines, and their facility’s protocols. With these surveys the researchers are hoping to gain a broad perspective from rehabilitators across Canada and the United States.