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Entries in wildlife (14)


NWRA Veterinary Student Paper competition

This 24th annual competition for veterinary student papers is being held in conjunction with the

NWRA Symposium, and is open to all veterinary students. The 2018 Symposium will be held

27 February – 3 March in Anaheim, CA. The conference will provide lectures, hands-on

workshops (free to students who help with the set-up and clean up afterwards!), discussions,

and networking opportunities to learn about current issues and techniques in wildlife medicine

and rehabilitation. This is also a great opportunity to meet veterinarians working with wildlife

and visit some of the facilities of the hosting rehabilitation organization, the California Council

for Wildlife Rehabilitators.


SUBJECT: The paper may cover any topic related to a veterinary aspect of wildlife

rehabilitation and may consist of a review of the literature, a personal case experience, or a

research project. Titles of winning papers are posted at:

16_Updated_Scholarship_Winners/Hiestand_Competition_Winners.pdf. Details about the

scholarship can be found at:


PRESENTATION: The winning student will be required to give a 25 minute PowerPoint

presentation at the symposium. The first-place paper will also be eligible for publication in the

NWRA Bulletin. Additional information regarding the symposium location, schedule, field trips

and workshops will be available at as the symposium draws nearer.


AWARD: The winning student will be awarded free registration to the conference, free attendance to the awards banquet, and a stipend of $500 toward travel and lodging expenses.


ENTRIES: Interested students should submit a 100-250 word abstract by 15 December 2017, and the completed paper by 15 January 2018, to: Dr. Erica A. Miller; Ph.: 302-743-7799; Fx: 302-234-2845; Em:


Author guidelines may be obtained by at:


Any questions regarding the NWRA or the Symposium should be directed to the NWRA Central Office at or 320-230-9920.


An ADR Parakeet

Alexis Pennings, Virginia-Maryland

Experiences, Entry

I was the only person working in the clinic that afternoon, and I happened to leave lunch early to return to work. I had much to accomplish, and little time to do it, because it was my day to work in the petting pen. It was fortuitous that I did leave early, because I found a small post-it note on the door to the clinic. Written on the note were the words "Parakeet on counter not doing well. Found laying on side." I popped into the clinic and went back to the counter where a carrier was placed. Inside of it was a little budgerigar who was pale yellow and green. He was laying on his side, not a good sign, and barely responded as I stuck my hand in the crate to retrieve him. He didn't even make a peep, and I could tell he was feeling quite rotten. Upon picking up his light body, I could feel the keel bone sticking out prominently; he was extremely thin. His eyes were half-closed and he lie limp in my arms.

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My SAWorldVets Conservation Experience

Brian Tighe, Ross University

Experiences, Honorable Mention 


Often times when a person says you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with a multimillion dollar industry, the opportunity to take care of animals that run into the tens of thousands of dollars per individual, a lot of feelings can come rushing towards you.  Excitement at the opportunity, disbelief in the trust placed upon you, anxiety over the possibility of a single mishap ruining your entire career, but the one emotion you would never expect is complacency.   Sable antelope, Hippotragus niger, is a species of antelope found in the savannahs of Africa.  Its rarity is dependent on the subspecies, spanning the spectrum from critically endangered to least concern, but that “least concern” label didn’t happen by itself. 

The farmers of South Africa have learned what valuable assets these animals can be, allowing offers from wealthy folks all over the world to spill in to purchase them for a variety of reasons, the most being hunting.  This gave great incentive to increase their numbers.  So when this student says he grew complacent seeing these creatures, he wasn’t bored or uninterested in them.  It was the sheer fact that on any given day as he drove threw the country, visiting farm after farm, these animals were everywhere.  Ever been to Pennsylvania and seen all the white-tailed deer?  Or how about sheep in New Zealand?  Or castles in Ireland?  It was kind of like that.  By the end of the trip we had seen so many Sable antelope we stopped taking pictures of them.  And you know what other emotion that made us realize on our journey back?  Pride in the efforts of conservationists, farmers, and veterinarians who were able to take an animal who used to have such low numbers and blow them up into a common sighting.

            I was one of fourteen students who went on an excursion to South Africa to follow a wildlife veterinarian as he worked to help farmers and maintain conservation of the animal species there.  The group was called SAWorldVets and was worth every penny.  Essentially we were following him on a day to day work schedule, awakening each morning before sunrise to whatever was scheduled, lunch, going out to calls, and then finally coming back in the evening to crash around the campfire.  Luckily for us, we just so happened to arrive two weeks before a giant auction that would involve many of the farmers in the area and, of course, they all wanted their animals in top shape.

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The Nacho Deer

Kate Connell - Penn

Foot in Mouth Disease - Winner

Best Overall Submission - Winner


         I’ve often found that the most interesting cases in the veterinary field appear on the necropsy table. Unlike human medicine, we can’t always afford to run all of the necessary diagnostics to find our disease. So the most baffling cases literally open up for exploration once the patient is deceased.

            The case that I’ll lay out for you today features a deer that was brought in to a wildlife clinic in Guatemala (yes, there are deer in in Central America). At first glance, he took your breath away. Magnificent twelve point buck, glistening coat, bright eyes, and…morbidly obese. We might be used to seeing overweight cats and dogs coming to our offices, but let me tell you, seeing a fat deer is something that makes you scratch your head. 

            The police confiscated the deer from a man keeping it in his backyard, where it had been raised on a diet of Frito Lays and Pringles (how the name “Nacho Deer” came about). Once he was with us, Nacho Deer acted like a typical only child that had been allowed to eat cookies for breakfast and stay up late watching TV in his room. When given his vegetables, he kicked them around his pen in a bitter rampage, and volunteers weren’t allowed in the enclosure with him after too many charging incidents. 

            Needless to say, no one shed a tear when Nacho Deer was found suddenly dead one evening. Because it was too late to investigate cause of death, we locked him in the office (no deer-sized refrigerator in the facility) so that scavengers wouldn’t pick at him overnight. We returned to do the necropsy the next morning, and I’ve never seen such a bizarre combination of pathologies.

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From Conservation to Cancer

Honorable mention, Life as a Vet Student
Briana Hallman, University of Minnesota

Marine mammal trainer, zookeeper, and wildlife biologist were all careers in which I had a strong interest before I even considered veterinary medicine. While interning at a wolf research center during the summer before senior year of my undergraduate education, I realized my love of wildlife was matched by my interest in medicine. My senior year was dedicated to last-minute courses that fulfilled admission requirements for veterinary school, and I accepted my admission offer for a spot in the class of 2013 from the University of Minnesota. I intended to become a wildlife veterinarian and involve myself in the One Health Initiative through animal conservation. Once beginning veterinary school, I took advantage of extra wetlabs and lectures in wild animal and exotic medicine, volunteered with the local wildlife rehabilitation center, and even traveled to South Africa for a hands-on course in conservation medicine. I was building a resume that would make me stand out in the wildlife medical field, and I was fully prepared to move anywhere in the world to find a job in this extremely competitive area of veterinary medicine.

One day in the second semester of my second year, I was introduced to the field of veterinary oncology when I spent two hours with Minnesota’s oncology service as part of our clinical skills course. I was immediately drawn to the unexpectedly pleasant environment in the oncology office, where canine day-patients receiving treatment get to play with other patients rather than sitting in a kennel all day. The office was filled with notes, plaques, and photos from clients thanking the clinicians for the time they were given with their beloved pets. My view of the oncology service as a sad, depressing, hopeless place was extinguished, and I began to take an interest in the overall biology of cancer and the science of its therapy. This interest grew during my third year, when my official course in oncology began. Diagnosing my first mast cell tumor as a third year student on a service trip to a nearby Native American reservation gave me confidence in my clinical knowledge and increased my curiosity about neoplasms in animals. I remained passionate about animal conservation, however, so pursuing wildlife medicine persisted as my career goal, and I lined up several senior externships in that field.

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