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Section 1 - Introduction to General Field Procedures

"Given the conspicuous role that diseases have played, and in many parts of the world continue to play, in human demography, it is surprising that ecologists have given so little attention to the way diseases may affect the distribution and abundance of other animals and plants. Until recently, for example, ecology textbooks had chapters discussing how vertebrate and invertebrate predators may influence prey abundance, but in most cases you will search the index in vain for mention of infectious diseases."

May, R.M., 1988, Conservation and disease: Conservation Biology, v. 2, no. 1, p. 28–30.

A basic premise for the preparation of this Manual is that disease in free-ranging wildlife is of concern and that disease prevention and control are desirable actions. However, these are not universally held perspectives. There are those who when confronted with disease outbreaks in free-ranging wildlife ask "Why bother?" Also, the same individuals who may reject the need for response to one situation may demand a response to another situation. We acknowledge in this Manual the existence of this question by making reference to it, but we do not offer a direct response. To do so would require this Manual to address the full spectrum of individually held values, perspectives, interests, and beliefs within human society that form the basis for the underlying issues which create the question of "why bother?" Those factors would also need to be addressed within a context of the different roles and responsibilities of public agencies, and would need to include some additional considerations. Such an undertaking is outside the scope and purpose of this Manual. Although no direct response is offered, readers will gain considerable information regarding disease occurrence and impacts in the chapters that follow. This information should be of value in assisting readers to address the questions of "why bother?" from their own set of values and interests.

Section 1 of the Manual provides basic information regarding general field procedures for responding to wildlife disease events. Field biologists provide a critical linkage in disease diagnostic work and greatly affect the outcome of the laboratory efforts by the quality of the materials and information that they provide. The chapters in this section are oriented towards providing guidance that will assist field biologists in gathering the quality of information and specimens that are needed. Readers will find information regarding what to record and how; guidance for specimen collection, preservation, and shipment; and how to apply euthanasia when such actions are warranted. Disease operations are managed at the field level and they can be aided by general preplanning that can be utilized when disease emergencies arise; therefore, contingency planning is included within the Disease Control Operations chapter. Disease control techniques, including equipment that is used, are the main focus for this highly illustrated chapter. Section 1 is concluded with a chapter about the proper care and use of wildlife in field research. The guidelines provided address the continual need to consider animal welfare in all aspects of wildlife management.

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