2018 Recap and Plans for 2019

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I’ll admit it. We’ve been terrible at keeping you informed about how WRMD is doing and what updates we are making. Sorry!

2018 was another busy year for us with lots of new wildlife rehabilitation organizations signing up, some major new features added. We also traveled to meet with our users as often as we could afford it.

In 2018 WRMD admitted an incredible 231,903 patients! That is a major increase over past years. These patients were admitted in by over 500 accounts across 15 countries. Speaking of countries, we are proud to welcome organizations from South Korea, Ireland and Trinidad and Tobago!

We had some amazing milestones in 2018 that we are very proud of:

Wildlife Rehabilitation Medical Database was written into California legislation in Assembly Bill 1031. The Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund allows California tax payers to make voluntary contributions into a competitive grant program whereby California wildlife rehabilitation organizations can apply for a grant, for the purposes of the recovery and rehabilitation of injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife, and conservation education. To be eligible to grant funding “The applicant shall maintain active participation in the Wildlife Rehabilitation Medical Database.”

On October 26 2018 the 1,000,000th patient was admitted into WRMD! A Great Horned Owl from Raymond California admitted to Fresno Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation Services.

We (The Wild Neighbors Database Project) have been accepted as an Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) member organization. The OWCN is a statewide collective of trained wildlife care providers, regulatory agencies, academic institutions and wildlife organizations working to rescue and rehabilitate oiled wildlife in California. Over the past few years we have been developing a specialized version of WRMD to work specifically for oiled wildlife events. That project is nearing completion and we are now proud to be part of the OWCN response team if (hopefully never) an oil spill occurs in California.

Plans for 2019

In 2019 there will surely be many tweaks and updates but we do have 3 major changes to announce.

Entirely New Way to Generate Reports

Very very soon, WRMD, will have a new way to view and generate reports. In this new way, you will be able to favorite reports for quicker access and preview reports before printing, emailing or exporting them. Each reports will also have unique filters to allow you to modify them as needed. For example, in some reports you will be able to set the reporting dates or exclude certain species taxonomies. This new feature will be available in about 1 week. Expect a blog post detailing how this works.

Prescription Formulary

A commonly requested features is to allow users to maintain their own prescription formulary for common drug/medication prescriptions. This is number 2 on the to-do list. In the formulary you will be able to define a drug, dosage, concentration, route, frequency, duration and many other things. When your formulary is created, you can then choose a formula when writing a prescription to autopopulate the prescription fields. You will also be able to set the dose to be automatically calculated based on the patients last weight.

Species Notifications

Another common request is to have automatically triggered notifications if (for example) a certain species is admitted. We think this is a cool idea. These notifications could be sent by email and/or text message. We need to gather more information about how this might work and how you might use it so please tell us your thoughts.


Lastly but not least, we would like to thank everybody that has made donations to our 501(c)(3). Your generosity is what keeps WRMD going, creating new features and answering your questions. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

The 2017 New Update is Coming!!!

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This has been a very busy year for WRMD! During the last 12 months we have attended 7 events where WRMD was represented. We got to travel to 5 states and had the pleasure of visiting over a dozen organizations, most using WRMD and some not using WRMD. Never in our wildest dreams did we think our little database project would travel around the globe and be used by nearly 400 organizations in 46 US states and 11 countries!!!

Who do you Love?:

We appreciate all of the support and gratitude we receive from our dedicated wildlife rehabilitation community. It makes us so happy to know that WRMD has made a positive impact on your organizations. If anybody would like to add to our testimonials page we would happily post it during the new year. Just email me at [email protected] (Yes, I finally have an easy email address). If you email me a testimonial by Feb 1, 2018, you will be entered in a raffle to win a free Med, Large or X-Large WRMD teeshirt, or a Sergio Lub Wild Neighbors bracelet.

Annual Report Reminder:

This is the time of year most organizations are beginning to think about state and or federal reports. Please let us know if there is something not right with your report so we can fix it ASAP, and hopefully not at the last minute.

IMPORTANT: If your species are not coming up correctly on your reports, it is likely because you have species whose common names have been entered incorrectly, which categorizes them as “unidentified”. If you do a full search and export your patients class, order and family, you will be able to see all patients in your database that are unidentified.

2017 Update Release on Dec 25 (SERVER WILL BE DOWN):

We have been working all year on a very big update. This update has most of the additional suggestions and features that we have accumulated over the year. With this update we are also updating our servers, which should help in WRMD’s  overall speed and performance. After this update is released PLEASE feel free to contact us if something is not working as it should. With all updates not everything will be 100% perfect, but we have made sure that all reporting is as perfect as we can get it.

****IMPORTANT:  On December 25th WRMD will be down all day! Please plan to have no access to WRMD this day. Hopefully, you can take a much needed day off from data entry. On Dec 26th there will be a new and improved WRMD to use. ****

In the next Blog post we will outline all of the updates and new features we’ve  added to WRMD.

Thank you and have a good holiday season!!!

Resiliency in the Face of Disaster

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Hi all,

This year Devin and I (Rachel) went to the Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference just 10 days after hurricane Irma wrecked havoc on Florida. It was beautiful to see that even after such devastation the group still came together, supported each other and had their conference. It was a beautiful thing to see. Now in my home town, I am seeing the same thing happen.

As you may know by now, Northern California is experiencing a devastating series of fires. The Tubbs Fire, Atlas Fire, Sulfur Fire, Redwood Complex Fire, Pocket Fire, Nuns Fire…. The list goes on. It is my home turf and several of my family and friends have been affected and lost homes. Devin and I are however, safe for now. We may be surround on all sides, but our little valley seems to be okay this year. We just wanted everybody to know we are safe, vigilant and okay.

In the midst of this terrible tragedy our surrounding Wildlife Rehabilitation organizations have been helping each other out, sharing, switching and transporting patients. We are part of such a compassionate, caring, and wonderful community.

After hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria it almost gives you hope, despite all of our differences, we can join together and help each other out. Especially our awesome worldwide Wildlife Rehabilitation Community.

The Power of Appreciation

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It is mid-August! Hopefully there is light at the other end of the tunnel for most. During season we lay low. The last thing a wildlife rehabilitator needs in the middle of season is more stuff thrown at them. We understand.

However, this year we were taking a trip to New Mexico for other reasons. Now, when we travel anywhere, for any reason, it usually becomes a WRMD trip as well. We contacted 4 organizations in New Mexico that have accounts with us to see if they were able to take time in July, yes July, to quickly “haha” meet with us.

All 4 of the brave organizations agreed. So, in mid-July we visited:

Wildlife Rescue Inc, of New Mexico and Hawks Aloft joined our meeting with Wildlife Rescue Inc, as they work together a lot. We visited for a few hours and they had some really good questions as well as some very good suggestions, some of which will be implemented in the New Update (ETA in Oct.).

We also visited On a Wing and a Prayer, a small one woman operation working her tail off. Then we ended the trip visiting New Mexico Wildlife Center.

We would like to thank all these organizations and the people who welcomed us in and helped coordinate our visit (Cecilia, Jim, Mikal and Melissa), mid-season, for a chance to discuss what is working well with WRMD, what has been challenging, and where could we improve the user experience.

This is how we operate. This is how we develop and grow. This is how we can keep our finger on the pulse of wildlife rehabilitation. It is exhausting and a lot of work. However, every time we travel and visit our users we are rewarded ten fold with new ideas, suggestions and even sometimes praise, which is very nice…

I have to suggest to everybody, if you are a wildlife rehabilitator and you are traveling, find the organizations near you, call them up and try to visit. You will learn more then you can imagine and it continues to strengthen our community and the feeling that we are not doing this alone. We all do it a little different and we all do our best with what we have. Give appreciation to one another, we all are sacrificing parts of our lives to this crazy thing we do.

In the Heat of the Summer

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Happy July to everybody. Hopefully by now patient loads have peaked and the beautiful light of autumn is just around the corner. We know that this is just about the most difficult time of year for most rehabbers. So, let me apologize immensely for the upsets in WRMD service.

It is not at all our intention to have issues in the middle of summer, we know how this can effect the daily routine. What appears to be happening right now, at the very peak of season, is an overwhelming amount of activity within WRMD. When this happens little ugly gremlins, that were not issues before, pop their heads up. There is so much traffic that certain functions get clogged up in the system and they can’t seem to clear themselves up.

As soon as we know there is an issue we go in and try to find the clog and fix it. Sometimes this takes a little time to fix. Every few years we also have to upgrade our severs, so this year we are likely to do it again. This will allow for more space and speed.

Thank you for your patience. We would also like to thank those individuals that notice an issue right away and contact us directly. That is a big help!

Spring Reminders: Please Read

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The WRMD team is currently working to publish more information on how best to use WRMD. It is one thing to transition to using a whole new system. It is quite another to get to the point of using it appropriately.

In the past I have seen some very creative uses of WRMD that made sense, however they did not work with the use of a database. When WRMD is used appropriately it can be a powerful tool, when used a little to creatively it will muddle up your data and analytics. Here are a few reminders of appropriate use that I find are most commonly done a little, too creatively.

Choose a Common Name from the drop down menu

This one correction alone, can make the biggest difference to your data. I have Blogged a few times about the importance of species identification, The Issue with Common Names, February WRMD Update. In the background, WRMD has nearly every species that could possibly be brought into wildlife rehabilitation, globally. We have imported the IUCN Red List to WRMD, which list almost every species and its status, whether it is Least Threatened to Extinct (we didn’t import extinct animals). In a few cases, we have found species not on our list, and we added them as soon as we found out about them. Along with this import we also added the most commonly recognized Common Names for that species. That is why sometimes you can have both Common Pigeon and Rock Dove. In the background they are the same species and the first Common Name used, will be the name used in any reports or analytics.

Please identify your patients and use the Common Name from the drop down menu or your data will be inaccurate. Sometimes you have to type it in completely in order to see it on the drop down. If you can’t find it, message us so we can look into it. 

Record ages in the field for Age

On several occasions I have seen Duckling, Fawn or even Baby Bird as a Common Name. These are not Common Names. It is slang for the age of a species. The database will pretty much ignore this Common Name and your data will be completely off. You need to record the Common Name as Mallard, Mule Deer or House Finch and then in the Initial Exam tab you can record the age.

Do not use an age term as a Common Name.

Each patients needs it’s own record

Something else I have seen that really kinda hurts, is when a Common Name is recorded as ducklings x5. This defeats the whole purpose of using a database. Not only can the Common Name not be identified but you are losing your overall numbers. Right below the Common Name field there is a field for Number of Patients, it is really easy to create 5 records. What happens if 2 of those ducklings die and 3 are released. How do you record that? How does that get translated on your State Report or the Federal Report? There are locations for all that information within WRMD, there is not need to jumble it up and make your data of no use to you.

Each patient needs it’s own record.

Educational animals have a spot for their Name and should recorded as Residents

A few times I have seen in Common Name (Education Barn Owl) or (Billy Bob the Barn Owl). Well, this is much like everything I have mentioned above. There is a location for the Name of an animal in the Cage Card, specifically for education animals and the large secret group or rehabbers that name their patients… For Resident patients they should maintain a pending Disposition and in the Location box you should record them as Resident within Holding at.

Education Animals can be recorded as Resident in the Location box and their Names can be recorded in the Cage Card box, in the Name field.


We have been told that one of the best things about WRMD is it’s ease of use. The compromise of allowing WRMD to be easy to use, we lose the ability to control how it is used. We think it is more important to have a system people can easily use then to be very strict and rigid on how it is used. Only through training and outreach can we eventually help people use it more efficiently, for their own benefit.

WRMD is NOT Hacked

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Today we were alerted to a hacking event on our blog. It could easily bee seen with the message “Hacked By SA3D HaCk3D” on the dashboard within WRMD.

WRMD itself was NOT hacked. Your Data Is Safe.

Fortunately it was an easily resolution and all is safe now.

PS: If you are using WordPress for your organizations website, you should upgrade to version 4.7.2.

The Miracle of OWRMD

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Oiled Wildlife Care Netowrk

The article below was written by Christine Fiorello, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACZM of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. Christine, along with her colleagues at the OWCN, have commissioned us to develop a version of WRMD (called OWRMD) that specifically meets the record keeping needs of wildlife affected by oil spills in California. Our project has been under development for over a year and we are already seeing some very exciting results! A HUGE thanks to Christine Fiorello, Mike Ziccardi and the entire OWCN staff for including us in the project!


Unlike my six-year-old, whose list to Santa is comprised mostly of toy weapons, my wishes for the New Year are less tangible. Less war, less poverty, less hunger, less deforestation, fewer emerging diseases, fewer extinctions, lower carbon emissions, no oil spills . . . . you get the idea. Given the current state of the world, it would probably take a miracle for any of those wishes to come true. But one miracle I am counting on is the promise of OWRMD!

Many, many years ago, Mike realized that an electronic medical record keeping system would be a huge boost to animal care during a spill response. After a LOT of work, angst, pain, blood, sweat, tears, and electronic device purchases, we are close to having a truly game-changing system in OWRMD, thanks to Devin Dombrowski and the Wild Neighbors Database Project (a non-profit that is already doing great work providing a free online medical records option for wildlife rehabilitators – follow the link to learn more or to donate).

OWRMD is a medical records database system that is purpose-built for the care of animals during an oil spill response, and it has been worth waiting for.  OWRMD is not exactly the same as the WRMD that is currently used in dozens of rehabilitation centers, but it is closely related. Many operations will be the same, and if you are comfortable with WRMD, getting comfortable with OWRMD will be a snap. It’s intuitive and has a lovely interface design, so even those who are not used to electronic medical records will become accustomed to it in no time.

It’s not quite finished yet, but for those of you who already use WRMD, you can understand how great a tool OWRMD will be. In the coming months, look out for opportunities to learn more about OWRMD, such as participating in drills or specific training sessions. At first, OWRMD will be for birds only, but we will be integrating other species into it as we move forward.

This holiday season, be safe, be healthy, be happy  . . . . and be thankful for whatever miracles come your way!

Thanks Christine!

New Year Reminders

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I have received a few questions about what happens to the records when a new year starts. So, I thought it a good idea to send out some information and reminders of what goes on behind the scenes and the best way to use WRMD the first month or so of the new year.

Dec 31 2016 at around 10:00PM PST (I suggest not being on WRMD), we will start to prep the change over. What basically happens is that we start the counting over at 17-1. As you may have noticed WRMD defaults to the current year we are in when you first sign-in. There are a few inconveniences that we can not help when this happens, but we have suggestions on how to work with the system.

If you want to view 2016 patients you have to be in the year 2016. There are 3 ways to do that. (Disclaimer: because it is not 2017 yet my examples are for 2016 and 2015, but the methods stay the same)

  1. You can just change the year entirely to view your 2016 patients. (2015 in my example)

  2. You can search for the patient’s case #, however you need to add the year in front of it. You will notice how there is a banner at the top of the screen that tells you that you are in a different year. (2015 in my example)

  3. You can also use quick search to give you list of all pending patients and just work from that list, however if you change your search that list will go away. (Yes our dummy account has some very long term patients)

Adding New Patients

Something that seems to happen during the change over is: if you are in a previous year, looking at records and you go to Add New Patient, you may create a new patient in the previous year, which you probably do not want. If it is caught quickly it can be deleted by a Super Administrator of the account. However, if other records are created after it, you can no longer delete them, you will have to Void them.

However, since many reports are not due until Jan 31, many people will continue to add the remainder of their 2016 records in. So again, just make sure which year you are in before you Add a New Patient.

Rechecks and Medications

If you use the recheck or medication features, and you have a pending 2016 patient, it will continue to show up on your daily reports without a problem, however I will caution again, once you are in a previous year if you go to Add a New Patient, it will be in the previous year.

Hope this helps some and Happy Holidays!!!

WRMD∙Surveillance: Enhanced Wildlife Disease Surveillance Application

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A novel wildlife disease surveillance tool for improving our understanding of wildlife health threats in California

We wanted to reach out to say a special thank you to our network of partnering centers for their willingness to collaborate with us on the Enhanced Wildlife Disease Surveillance project! Now that the WRMD∙Surveillance application has been active for a few months, we wanted to start reaching out to centers with regular communications. Through these communications, we aim to keep you informed of the information we are learning about wildlife health patterns in California; update you on interesting findings resulting from additional diagnostic testing conducted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in response to the alerts and in collaboration with participating centers; and also hear from you regarding any unusual patterns you have observed in your admissions or information you would like to relay about the health of your patients as well as questions you have about the project.

Positive Impacts of the Application

Traditionally, wildlife disease surveillance systems have been specific to a particular disease. As such, these systems can miss trends that may signify a previously unknown disease or threat to wildlife health. This application allows for evaluation of diseases for which the cause is known (e.g., lead poisoning) and syndromes or diseases for which the cause is unknown (e.g., neurologic disease) in order to detect adverse health events that may warrant further investigation. It also facilitates early detection of wildlife disease events, enabling more timely investigations. We have included more details on the features of the application in an appendix at the end of this communication in case you are interested in learning more about how it works.

Since launching the application four months ago, WRMD∙Surveillance has alerted investigators at CDFW and the Wildlife Health Center to a number of specific disease outbreaks in which the cause was known and reported by the centers, including lead poisoning in turkey vultures and trichomoniasis in doves and pigeons. This information is extremely valuable for monitoring disease trends over time. It has also alerted investigators to increased numbers of individuals presenting with the same clinical signs/syndromes suggesting a disease outbreak in which the cause of the illness was not known. For a number of these alerts, CDFW followed up with centers for further investigation. In these cases, centers often shipped fresh or frozen carcasses to CDFW for post-mortem examination and laboratory diagnostics.

Highlights of New Findings

In August, the WRMD∙Surveillance application alerted us to an adverse health event in Cooper’s hawks. Juveniles were presenting in high numbers to wildlife rehabilitation centers in poor body condition with weakness (many were unable to stand) and mental dullness. Several of the birds also presented with traumatic injuries. Post-mortem examinations performed by CDFW revealed the cause of death to be West Nile Virus (WNV). West Nile has been reported to infect more than one hundred species of birds, with jays and crows seeming to be especially susceptible to infection. Since 2002, West Nile virus has been an important cause of mortality among raptors across the United States. The clinical manifestation of infection typically presents in three phases. Phase 1 is characterized by depression, decreased food intake, and weight loss. In addition to clinical signs in phase 1, birds in phase 2 present with head tremors, green urates, mental dullness/central blindness, and weakness. Phase 3 is characterized by more severe tremors and seizures. More information about the clinical signs in raptors and caring for infected birds can be found here: https://www.raptor.umn.edu/our-research/west-nile/caring-infected-birds. According to the California Department of Public Health, there were greater numbers of reported WNV mortalities in Cooper’s hawks this year relative to previous years. The epidemiology of the virus is complex and the reason for increased numbers of affected Cooper’s hawks this year is unknown. High temperatures and drought are known to affect WNV transmission. Drought reduces water availability for birds and mosquitoes, which subsequently crowd around scant water sources, leading to higher rates of spread of the virus among populations.

Earlier this fall, the application alerted us to an outbreak of neurologic disease in Eurasian collared doves in central California. Poisoning was suspected as the cause of the outbreak. CDFW followed up with centers receiving cases and the centers submitted carcasses for post-mortem examination and follow-up diagnostic testing. Results of the testing indicated that the doves were infected with Pigeon Paramyxovirus Type-1 (PPMV-1). PPMV-1 affects pigeons and doves causing depression, anorexia, excessive drinking, and diarrhea followed by neurological signs (incoordination, paralysis of wings and legs and twisting of the neck muscles) and rapid death, usually 1-3 days after the onset of clinical signs. It has been reported to cause die-offs of native and non-native species of free-flying doves in the U.S. Outside of the U.S., some strains of PPMV-1 have infected other taxa of birds, including chickens. Until recently, this virus hadn’t been detected in wild doves in California. CDFW has been investigating cases and documenting the distribution of detected infections. Detection of this PPMV-1 outbreak in Central California indicates this virus may be spreading northward by the non-native doves. The virus is spread by direct contact between birds, which is facilitated by bird feeders and bird baths. There are concerns that it could infect our native Band-tailed Pigeons and Mourning Doves. We are interested in continued monitoring of infection of native and non-native doves and pigeons and potential impacts on native species in California.

Currently, alerts in the application indicate an adverse health event in Western and Clark’s Grebes. Several grebes are presenting to centers in central and southern California with emaciation. CDFW is also receiving reports of ill and dying grebes at the Salton Sea and is working with centers and field biologists to conduct post-mortem examinations and laboratory analyses to investigate the cause(s). These alerts mirror findings by scientists documenting a downward trend in these populations along the Pacific Coast, which is hypothesized to be due in part to a change in the abundance and availability of their food base. We will provide results of this and other investigations in upcoming communications.

Gratitude for Partnership

Now, more than ever, there is a critical need for increased monitoring of threats to wildlife species, especially species that are difficult to monitor in the wild. In addition to the many positive contributions that centers bring to wildlife health and communities, the information that our partnering centers contribute to through this project is hugely beneficial for improving our understanding of threats to a diverse range of wildlife species across the state! We are so very thankful for the partnership!

Many thanks!

Terra Kelly, Wildlife Health Center, University of California
Devin Dombrowski and Anthony Riberi, Wild Neighbors Database Project
Nicole Carrion, Wildlife Investigations Laboratory, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Krysta Rogers, Wildlife Investigations Laboratory, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Please feel free to contact the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory at (916-358-2790) if you would like to report information and/or have questions about the investigations. Please also free to contact Terra Kelly at [email protected] or (530) 574-5093 or Devin Dombrowski at [email protected] if you have questions about the application and/or project.


Features of the WRMD∙Surveillance Application

The WRMD∙Surveillance application is the first of its kind, to facilitate real-time monitoring of diseases and mortality events in California wildlife. The application aggregates data from our center network on a weekly basis and alerts investigators to potential unusual wildlife health events (e.g., disease outbreaks) based on detection of a higher than usual number of admissions of a particular species. Personally identifiable data and information related to treatment/management of cases is not accessible in the application to ensure privacy.

The detailed view for each species exceeding the threshold includes a chart showing one or more years of data allowing for visualization of trends over time (Fig. 1). By using Google Maps’ API, the application includes a feature in which the location found for each case is displayed on the map (Fig. 2). The mapping feature is interactive in which the investigator can click on the location depicted on the map to display the underlying data for that individual animal. The application also includes a table displaying information for patients making up the alerts (address found, disposition, diagnosis, reason for admission, sex, weight, age group, initial exam) (Fig. 2).

Number of individuals admitted weekly

Figure 1. Chart displaying number of individuals admitted weekly over one year (top) and over 15 year period (bottom).

Locations where patients are making up an alert

Figure 2. Map displaying the locations where the patients making up one of the alerts were found. The table at the bottom displays the supporting information for the patients making up the alert. This data improves our understanding of the reasons for admission and whether additional diagnostics would improve our understanding of the illness/event leading to the alert.