The Wildlife Health Event Reporter, www.wher.org, is a web-based application created to record wildlife observations by citizens concerned about dead or sick wildlife.
Early detection of disease events that affect wildlife is often difficult to achieve. There must be observers in the area to take note of the event, and have knowledge of what to do with that information, as well as beat scavengers to the evidence. To help address this need, the Wildlife Data Integration Network (WDIN) developed WHER.
After wildlife disease events are recorded in WHER, these observations are joined with other wildlife sightings and are viewable in tabular reports or on a map, enabling people to see where similar events are happening.
Why Collect this Information?
Seventy-five percent of recent emerging infectious diseases in humans began as animal infections and most of these have involved wildlife. With the help of citizens, this system can collect timely and useful information about wildlife mortality events (e.g. date, location, and affected species).
These data are integrated and summarized by the system to provide essential information for better understanding wildlife disease patterns and their potential impact on wildlife, human, and domestic animal health.
How Can Citizen Scientists Help?
Individuals can help with this wildlife health surveillance effort by reporting their sightings of sick/dead wild animals to WHER.
- Date and location
- Species of animal(s) involved
- Actions taken
- Additional event observations
- Images of species involved or environment surroundings of event
After a user completes a report, contact information and a description of observations of interest for the area’s local wildlife agency is provided, if available. The details usually include what kind of events the group is interested in and who to contact directly. This extra effort to make direct contact when suggested will help control out-breaks more quickly and may curtail their spread. Users can also contribute reports to WHER using their smartphone. HealthMap.org has enhanced its application, “Outbreaks Near Me,” to collect and provide animal disease reports to WHER. The mobile application captures similar data elements that the web-based WHER application collects.
Visit the About page on the WHER web site at www.wher.org.