Conquering crisis through communication: P4W connects, educates wildlife rehabbers during HPAI pandemic
October 19, 2022
Rob Kulhanek
a raptor being released

Partners for Wildlife (P4W) is centered around communication—creating connections, sharing resources, and building a stronger, more resilient wildlife rehabilitation community. Nothing this year has brought that more to the forefront than the devastating challenge of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

As a unit within The Raptor Center (TRC), P4W monitored the emergence of HPAI while leaping into action to provide critical messages and assistance to audiences beyond TRC’s immediate scope, particularly to vulnerable individual rehabilitators and smaller centers. Gail Buhl, P4W partnership coordinator, and Dr. Michelle Willette, P4W intern program supervisor, spearheaded many of these efforts.

The pair co-led a biosecurity workshop during the annual National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium in March 2022, which led to the formation of a multi-state email group centered on HPAI updates. Buhl published a special Wildlife Rehabilitation: From Rescue to Release podcast episode on HPAI with Dr. Victoria Hall, TRC’s executive director. Buhl and Hall went on to host a pair of webinars, each attended by 300+ individuals, sharing critical HPAI information and updates on what TRC was learning from its own biosecurity efforts.

Beyond these coordinated activities, both Buhl and Willette provided individual consultations to countless home- and center-based rehabilitators, assisting them in securing their collections and strengthening their biosecurity. The constant stream of communication between the P4W team and folks throughout the sector was a lifeline for many, including TRC’s own team, in a tumultuous and uncertain time. While extremely challenging, this pandemic illuminated the power of open communication and its role in building resilient communities.