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Nature

Website to Track Wildlife Health, Warn of Emergency Situations

Often animals will show signals of disaster long before the human population is affected, leading researchers to seek widespread information of wildlife fatalities for both the safety of people and other animals.

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While data of wildlife fatalities or infection exists in different agencies across the US, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Fort Johnson are working on a pilot program to centralize the data to form an Environmental Surveillance Network in the South Carolina.

Whether it be a chemical spill or bioterrorism, government agencies will benefit from data showing out-of-the-norm animal deaths. Normally all agencies will be notified of an incident, but they will respond separately, wasting valuable time determining whether something is hazardous. The new system would allow different agencies to communicate the information more clearly.

The concept sprung from a workshop program that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration held with representatives from various agencies to judge their capacity to respond to threats. All parties agreed that something new was needed to limit redundancy.

Seems like a pretty valuable program, right? It could save man hours and potentially human and non-human lives. Interestingly, all the scientists working on it are doing so entirely for free. They’re entirely unfunded.

“We’re just doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” said web developer and oceanographer Scott Cross. “I know that sounds Mom and apple pie, but it’s really true.”

Photo Credit: Swami Stream on Flickr under Creative Commons license.



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