- Charles Sturt Associate Professor Andrew Peters attends Wildlife Disease Association annual conference in Madison, Wisconsin, USA
- Professor Peters is the first Australian president in the association’s 71-year history
- This year’s conference theme was ‘Holistic Solutions for Wildlife Health’
A renowned Charles Sturt University wildlife expert has travelled to the United States to attend the Wildlife Disease Association’s (WDA) annual conference as the organisation’s first Australian president.
Associate Professor in Wildlife Health and Pathology with the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences in Wagga Wagga Andrew Peters joined members of the association in Madison, Wisconsin.
The association’s aim is to promote healthy wildlife and ecosystems, biodiversity conservation and solutions and to bring scientists, researchers, veterinarians, wildlife managers and students together to share knowledge and expertise.
This year’s conference theme was ‘Holistic Solutions for Wildlife Health’ and was headed by Professor Peters in his capacity as the association’s first Australian president.
“It is an exciting and important opportunity for Australia to bring a unique international perspective to WDA, and wildlife health more broadly, through my role,” he said.
“All previous presidents in the Association’s 71-year history as the leading international scientific body representing wildlife health professionals have been based in North America or Europe.
“This is a first for the Wildlife Disease Association, the Australian wildlife health community and Charles Sturt University.
“My role in the WDA and this conference will also allow me to highlight the depth of expertise in Australia and at Charles Sturt University across environment, veterinary and social sciences and the impact that can make on wildlife health internationally.”
Professor Peters spent the week chairing meetings, presenting during the conference, and officially opening and closing the event.
He met with international colleagues to advance important proposals that support members working in promoting health, especially for colleagues in low-income countries.
“I think as a Charles Sturt University academic based in Wagga Wagga that I am well placed to understand the different communities and partners that need to be involved in wildlife health,” he said.
“Wildlife diseases often appear in regional areas around the world and communities are needed to help tackle the challenges we face in keeping wildlife healthy for the environment and our own health and wellbeing.”
Professor Peters said Charles Sturt researchers are already working towards many of the goals set out by the WDA in terms of wildlife conservation and preservation.
Societal challenges, such as climate change, global pollution, food insecurity, inequalities and injustices, all have an effect on wildlife and wildlife health.
He said between the research being conducted and the University’s teaching practices, Charles Sturt could take a leading role in this space.
“Charles Sturt University has a lot of depth in expertise and a number of relevant programs, both in research and teaching, across environment, animal health, agriculture, international development and social sciences,” he said.
“Charles Sturt also brings a community-focused and regional perspective, and a commitment to First Nations, and this is quite unique and valuable in considering how we come up with solutions that are equitable and environmentally and socially just.”
The conference was an opportunity to explore how the association can manager wildlife health challenges and Professor Peters said there were some major wins to emerge from the week.
“Important outcomes of the meetings that I chaired included making the Wildlife Disease Association more accessible and supportive for wildlife health professionals in low income countries and strengthening the relationship between our association and the World Organisation for Animal Health, which brings together 182 nations to tackle global animal health challenges,” he said.
“I also gained approval to bring the Wildlife Disease Association international conference to Australia in 2024. This is an exciting opportunity for the Australian government, wildlife health community and Charles Sturt University to showcase our innovation and global leadership.”
The conference at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club ran from Saturday 23 to Friday 29 July.