Senior wildlife health veterinarian's exceptional service honoured

The Wildlife Disease Association’s Australasian section (WDA-A) has awarded Dr Pam Whiteley the prestigious Dave Spratt Award in recognition of her long-term service and commitment to wildlife health.

Fondly referred to as the Spratty, the award was established in 2013 in recognition of one of the founding members of WDA-A, Dave Spratt. It is reserved to show appreciation for exceptional members who have made a long-term commitment to the WDA-A.

Dr Whiteley was the inaugural veterinarian at Healesville Sanctuary from 1976-1986 and has been a longstanding member of the WDA-A.

Following her role at Healesville, she won a Churchill Fellowship to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she completed her Master of Science research on the effects of environmental contaminants on immune function and disease resistance of waterfowl with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

fluffy kitten
Dr Pam Whiteley receives the Spratty award from Dr Scott Carver, incoming Chairperson of the WDA-A. Photo: Anna Meredith.

Dr Whiteley’s contributions to wildlife health include and numerous leadership roles in the WDA-A itself, helping to found the Australian Wildlife Health Network in 2002 (now Wildlife Health Australia) and the establishment of Wildlife Health Victoria: Surveillance at the University of Melbourne, which investigates wildlife mortalities from around the state.

She has also worked at the Arthur Rylah Institute for the Environment, the CSIRO Animal Health Centre and the Victorian Department of Agriculture, and she continues to contribute to the development of wildlife health surveillance in Victoria and Australia.

Her nomination by Dr Scott Carver and seconded by Dr Andrew Peters received unanimous support from the WDA-A executive committee.

Dr Carter, the Chairperson of the executive committee and a Lecturer in Wildlife Ecology at the University of Tasmania, said in a statement that Dr Whitely had made an outstanding contribution to the organisation.

“Pam travels extensively and speaks at conferences and to community groups about wildlife health and disease creating and fostering links between different organisations,” he said.

“She is also a tireless mentor to students and other veterinarians and strives selflessly to support collaboration among all manner of people to advance wildlife health in Australia and overseas.”

Dr Whiteley received the Spratty at the recent WDA-A conference in Bali.

Professor Anna Meredith, Head of the Melbourne Veterinary School and a leading wildlife and conservation health veterinarian, also attended the conference and said the award reflected Dr Whitley’s dedication to wildlife health.

“Pam is an exceptional advocate for a One Health approach, the value of healthy wildlife to the environment and humans, and the important role wildlife disease surveillance plays in the maintenance of biodiversity,” Professor Meredith said.

“She has been and continues to be a dedicated and persistent practitioner in the field, as illustrated by her work in the Melbourne Veterinary School’s Wildlife Health Victoria: Surveillance group.”

Banner image: An Australasian shoveler at Healesville Sanctuary, where Dr Whiteley was veterinarian from 1976-1986. Photo: Sascha Wenninger.