There is a clear need to monitor the health of wildlife in the UK, to help to understand the population dynamics of endangered species and to detect any harm to the welfare of wild animals caused by human beings. Despite previous proposals, there has been little progress in the development of a national programme of monitoring. With notable exceptions, the current schemes for investigating the morbidity and mortality of wild animals cover only limited groups of animals and are fragmented and uncoordinated. They consist of statutory schemes of restricted scope, and studies in universities, institutes and wildlife rehabilitation centres with limited funding. As a result, significant disease incidents may remain undetected and others may not be investigated fully, posing risks to the welfare and conservation of wildlife, the welfare of domestic animals, and in some cases to human health. Coordinated national schemes for the surveillance of the health of wildlife are already established in France, the USA and Canada and their best characteristics could be used to develop a scheme for the UK.
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