Federal Issue Brief

 H.R. 3886, Wildlife Veterinarians Employment and Training (VET) Act

AVMA Position:

Support

Summary:

Introduced by Congressman Alcee Hastings (FL-23rd), H.R. 3886 would: 

  • Expand the workforce of veterinarians specialized in the care and conservation of wild animals and their ecosystems, and develop educational programs focused on wildlife and zoological veterinary medicine.
  • Create new funded positions for wildlife and zoological clinical and research veterinarians.
  • Limit the amount of educational debt for veterinary medicine students while providing incentives to study and practice wildlife and zoological medicine.
  • Help schools and colleges of veterinary medicine develop pilot curricula specializing in health management of wildlife in their natural habitat and in captivity.
  • Expand the number of educational and training programs in wildlife and zoological medicine.

Background: 

  • Veterinary students face large educational debt upon graduation. In 2011, graduation student debt load averaged $142,613, a 6.5% increase from 2010. 
  • A growing number of students enter veterinary school with an interest in wildlife and/or zoological veterinary medicine, but choose different fields of study and practice due to the small number of positions available for wildlife and zoological veterinarians upon graduation.
  • Salaries for wildlife and zoological veterinarians are relatively low compared to the average salaries of veterinarians in companion animal medicine.

Justification:

  • The legislation will bolster the number of veterinarians with education and training in wildlife and zoological medicine as well as help to support positions of employment for these specialists upon graduation. 
  • Veterinary colleges will gain needed support to develop and enhance programs in wildlife and zoo medicine.
  • Trainees will gain valuable professional experience and earn credentials that will make them competitive for wildlife and zoological positions.

Status:

House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry, and in addition to the Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs.

AVMA Contact:

Dr. Whitney L. Miller, Assistant Director, AVMA Governmental Relations at 202-289-3211.