Posted July 1, 2005
Late last year when an accident claimed a respected husband-and-wife team of wildlife veterinarians, there was a groundswell of interest in the wildlife management community for recognizing their contributions in an enduring way.
Recently, the Wildlife Disease Association and the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians established a memorial fund honoring Drs. E. Tom Thorne and Elizabeth S. Williams. The fund will endow an award to be given "in acknowledgement of an exemplary contribution either combining wildlife disease research with wildlife management policy implementation, or elucidating particularly significant problems in wildlife health."
Drs. Thorne and Williams died in an automobile accident in Colorado near the Wyoming border the night of Dec. 29, 2004 (JAVMA obituaries, March 15, 2004).
According to the WDA and AAWV, their contributions to wildlife health research and wildlife medicine were legendary.
Dr. Williams was a faculty member at the University of Wyoming, a diagnostic pathologist at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, and editor of the Journal of Wildlife Diseases. At various times, she served as an adviser or consultant to National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health, United Nations, Morris Animal Foundation, and Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Williams was one of the world's leading experts on the pathology of chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, co-discovering it during her doctoral work. She was also noted for her work on brucellosis, plague, tularemia, canine distemper, keratoconjuntivitis in deer, and conservation of the black-footed ferret and Wyoming toad.
Dr. Thorne had recently retired from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, having risen through the ranks to the position of interim director. He was one of the nation's leading wildlife veterinarians for more than 30 years. Co-founder of the AAWV and the Wyoming Wildlife Society, he also served as president of both organizations. His work on brucellosis in wildlife, diseases of wild sheep, and conservation of black-footed ferrets and other sensitive species, along with his efforts to bring together and work with domestic animal producers and wildlife interests, brought Dr. Thorne national acclaim and many awards.
The WDA and AAWV hope to endow the award in perpetuity. It will be given periodically—but no more than annually—to wildlife veterinarians and health professionals who have made outstanding contributions similar to those of Drs. Thorne and Williams. Contributions designated for the Thorne-Williams memorial fund may be sent to the WDA, P.O. Box 1897, Lawrence, KS 66044 or to AAWV Treasurer Mike Ziccardi at One Shields Ave, Wildlife Health Center, Davis, CA 95616.