The potential capacity of French wildlife rescue centres for wild bird disease surveillance


Multiple schemes for wildlife disease surveillance have been in operation in France for decades and data on wild bird carcasses presented to the national SAGIR network have been recorded since the 1980s. Over the same period, wildlife rescue centres (WRCs) have admitted thousands of birds each year. However, the reasons for casualty submission have been poorly explored to date. To assess the potential capacity of WRCs to monitor infectious and non-infectious diseases of wild birds in addition to SAGIR, we used Fringillidae and Passeridae data from January 2004 to April 2013 from SAGIR and the WRC of Nantes (CVFSE/Oniris) which is in operation in North-West France. Firstly, the Centre Vétérinaire de la Faune Sauvage et des Ecosystèmes des Pays de la Loire (CVFSE) contributed more than 30 % of all the birds submitted and was complementary to the SAGIR network in terms of species, age of the birds collected, location and date found. Secondly, the CVFSE was able to detect the emergent finch trichomonosis, in addition to the SAGIR network. Some causes of passerine submission were detected by one or other of the two schemes leading to their complementarity in overviewing Fringillidae and Passeridae infectious and non-infectious diseases in France. In order to improve the efficiency of its wild bird disease monitoring and to participate in an effective national and/or European surveillance network, the CVFSE, as for other WRCs, must enhance its diagnostic capabilities, in particular post-mortem examinations and laboratory testing.

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This study used data first from the SAGIR network which is financially supported by the French Federations of Hunters, the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, the French Ministry of Agriculture through the French National Hunting and Wildlife Agency and the Regional Councils through their local veterinary laboratories. We also used data from the Centre Vétérinaire de la Faune Sauvage et des Ecosystèmes des Pays de la Loire (CVFSE) which is funded by Nantes Métropole, the Conseil Général de Loire-Atlantique, the Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire, the Direction Régionale de l’Environnement, de l’Aménagement et du Logement Pays de la Loire and private partners especially Total S.A., Total Raffinage Chimie and Total Raffinage France.

We are grateful to the agents of the Federations of Hunters, the environmental officers of the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (French National Hunting and Wildlife Agency) and to the public for their assistance with the reporting of mortality incidents, field investigations and carcass collection. Finally, we would like to thank the agents of the local veterinary laboratories, Hubert Ferté and Damien Jouet from the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Michaël Treilles from the veterinary laboratory of the Manche department, Philippe Berny from the Toxicology Laboratory of the Veterinary School VetAgro Sup and Karin Lemberger from Vet Diagnostics for the SAGIR diagnostic investigations; Jean Chi, Dr Kevin Tyler and Dr Diana Bell at the University of East Anglia for their assistance with PCR testing for T. gallinae and to all the veterinary staff of the CVFSE/Oniris for the CVFSE diagnostic investigations. We thank Tim Hopkins for his comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We would also like to acknowledge the useful feedback from reviewers which helped to refine the paper.

Ethical standards

The live animals in this study were admitted as sick or injured wild bird casualties to the Pays de la Loire Regional Wildlife and Ecosystem Veterinary Centre for appropriate clinical care. The performed procedures were conducted for diagnostic and medical treatment purposes only. Euthanasia for welfare reasons was performed in accordance with French legislation.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they had no conflict of interest in this study.

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Correspondence to P. Gourlay.

Additional information

Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Gourlay, P., Decors, A., Moinet, M. et al. The potential capacity of French wildlife rescue centres for wild bird disease surveillance. Eur J Wildl Res 60, 865–873 (2014).

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  • Surveillance
  • Disease
  • Wildlife rescue centre
  • Bird
  • Fringillidae
  • Passeridae