Wildlife Medicine: Back to Basics

Friday, July 28, 2023
Hosted by the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Lees-McRae College Campus

Wildlife will show up, whether you're ready or not! Why not be ready? The North Carolina Wildlife Medicine Symposium is designed to enhance care techniques for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and staff to best assist injured and orphaned wildlife patients that may come through their doors. Speakers are seasoned experts in the fields of avian, exotic, zoo, and wildlife medicine. Lecture topics include tips for the general practitioner, anesthesia 101, bandaging of common injuries, and zoonotic diseases that wildlife often carry, including a rabies update in North Carolina.  Several cases studies will also be included. Seven (7.0) hours of RACE-approved continuing education are provided for veterinarians and veterinary technicians, but anyone interested in wildlife medicine is welcome to register. Lunch is included.

Earn seven hours of RACE-approved continuing education credit while learning from expert practitioners!  


  • Veterinarians and other professionals: $100
  • Current Students: $50

Early registration is open through June 30. After that date, tickets will be an additional $25. Pay via credit card by clicking the Get Tickets button below. 

Symposium Schedule

7–8 a.m. Registration in Evans Auditorium, in the Cannon Student Center
8–8:50 a.m. Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Wildlife Medicine for the General Practitioner by Dr. Antonia Gardner
9–9:50 a.m. Rabies in North Carolina: Prevention, Control and Epidemiology by Dr. Erica Berl
9:50–10:10 a.m. Break
10:10–11 a.m. Why is euthanasia a treatment and needed in wildlife rehabilitation? 
by Dr. Ernesto Dominguez
11:10 a.m.–12 p.m. Basics of Wound Therapy and Bandaging by Dr. Karra Pierce
12–1:30 p.m.  Lunch in Evans Auditorium, Poster presentation in King-Shivell Lounge
1:30–2:20 p.m.  Wildlife Anesthesia 101 by Dr. Laura Lathan
2:30–3:20 p.m. Zoonotic Disease Concerns in Wildlife Rehabilitation by Dr. Sam Young
3:30–4:20 p.m. Wildlife Cases Encountered in Clinical Practice by Dr. Dan Johnson 
4:30 p.m. CE certificates available

Speaker Biographies

Erica Berl, DVM, MPH
Deputy State Public Health Veterinarian, North Carolina Division of Public Health
Rabies in North Carolina: Prevention, Control and Epidemiology

In her role as the deputy state public health veterinarian, Dr. Berl is responsible for zoonotic disease surveillance and control and also assists with vector-borne disease epidemiology activities. Prior to becoming a public health veterinarian, she was a foodborne disease epidemiologist at DPH for two years. She began her career in public health in 1999 at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Before beginning her career in public health, Dr. Berl worked for 10 years in small animal private practice.

Dr. Berl earned her DVM from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, her MPH from the Boston University School of Public Health, and her BA from Dartmouth College.

Dan Johnson, DMV, Dipl. ABVP
Senior Veterinarian and Founder, Avian and Exotic Animal Care
Wildlife Cases Encountered in Clinical Practice

Dr. Dan Johnson is a 1992 graduate of North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine (NCSU-CVM). In 1996 he founded North Carolina’s first all-exotics practice Avian and Exotic Animal Care, located in Raleigh. Dr. Johnson’s caseload is made up entirely of exotic pets, fish, wildlife, and zoo species. He is an Adjunct Professor at NCSU-CVM and a Visiting Professor at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) specializing in exotic companion mammal practice. Dr Johnson is past president of the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV) and was the 2022 recipient of the Oxbow/AEMV Quest Award. Dr. Johnson publishes and lectures internationally on avian and exotic animal practice.

Antonia Gardner, DVM
Rehabilitation veterinarian at Carolina Raptor Center, Associate Veterinarian at Spay Neuter Clinic of the Carolinas
Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Wildlife Medicine for the General Practitioner

Originally from the Florida Panhandle, Dr. Antonia Gardner graduated with her veterinary degree from the University of Florida in 2004, after which she completed a small animal/ exotic internship at Florida Veterinary Specialists and North Bay Animal Hospital. After that she moved to southeast Florida and began working at the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 2014 she became the medical director at the SFWC and continued in that position until June 2022. As the medical director she was not only in charge of clinical operations and staff management, but also overseeing a very active undergraduate internship and a veterinary externship. Educating students on wildlife medicine is one of her passions, as is forging relationships between wildlife centers and the veterinary research community.

Dr. Gardner has presented at several conferences, including the American Association of Zoological Medicine Conference, the International Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Council symposium, and the Wildlife Disease Association’s international symposium. She also is a courtesy lecturer at the University of Florida and a guest lecturer for the HSVMA. Dr. Gardner authored a chapter on Virginia opossum in Medical Management of Wildlife Species: A Guide for Practitioners and co-authored a chapter in the recently published Wildlife and Exotic Animal Ophthalmology textbook series. She also published a research article on cardiac measurements in flying foxes.

In summer 2022, Dr. Gardner, her husband Dr. Makowski, and son Cayeden relocated to Charlotte North Carolina, with their two dogs and guinea pig. She is currently working at Spay Neuter of the Carolinas, a small animal practice in south Charlotte, and is proud to be providing veterinary care for Carolina Raptor Center’s rehabilitation patients. She and her family are enjoying the diverse experiences North Carolina has to offer, including hiking and spying on North Carolina’s beautiful wildlife!

Sam Young, DVM
Veterinarian, May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center; Assistant Professor, May School of Natural and Health Sciences at Lees-McRae College
Zoonotic Disease Concerns in Wildlife Rehabilitation

Dr. Sam Young received a BS in Zoology at NC State University in 2005 and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine also from NC State University in 2011. After finishing vet school, Dr. Young completed a one-year wildlife internship at Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Young then returned to NC to start a mobile exotic animal practice: Uncommon Creatures Mobile Veterinary Services (UCMVS), that specialized in veterinary care of all critters not dog, cat, or horse. During that time Dr. Young became the contract veterinarian for the Greensboro Science Center (GSC), Discovery Place, and the SeaLife Aquarium Charlotte/Concord. In 2018, Dr. Young accepted the first full-time position as VP of Animal Health at GSC and closed down UCMVS. Dr. Young just recently joined the team at Lees-McRae in June of 2023 and is excited to expand the education and conservation medicine components of his career. Outside of work, Dr. Young enjoys spending time with his wife Jess, son Oliver, and 3 dogs: Kuma, Augie, and Boogs hiking, camping, creeking, and consuming only the best cinema.

Ernesto Dominguez, DVM, DACVPM, CWR 
Associate Exotics Veterinarian at Wellesley Animal Hospital
Why is euthanasia a treatment and needed in wildlife rehabilitation?

Dr. Ernesto Dominguez grew up in Mexico City. Dr. Ernesto studied medicine for two years but left to pursue his real passion: veterinary medicine. He graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) School of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. After getting his degree, he completed multiple postgraduate training programs in wildlife centers and zoos around the world. In 2016 he completed an internship in Raptor Medicine and Surgery at the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota. From 2016–2020 he was the Hospital Director at The Wildlife Center of Virginia. Dr. Ernesto has multiple scientific publications and book chapters in his curriculum. He is Board Certified Specialist by the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. He is currently Co-chair of the Conservation Committee of the Association of Avian Veterinarians. He is active in several veterinary associations like the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV), Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians (AEMV), the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV), and the American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians.

Karra Pierce, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services, Wildlife Center of Virginia
Basics of Wound Therapy and Bandaging

Dr. Karra Pierce grew up on the west coast of Canada, near the city of Vancouver. She completed her Bachelor of Science in biology at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island. During this time, she started working as a staff wildlife rehabilitator at a large wildlife rehabilitation center. Here, Dr. Karra fell in love with wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife medicine. Following her undergraduate degree, Dr. Karra moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to attend the Western College of Veterinary Medicine with the goal of becoming a wildlife veterinarian. During this time, she continued to dedicate herself to working with wildlife. After receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, she did a one-year small-animal rotating internship at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and then joined the team at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. In her time at the Wildlife Center, she has held the position of veterinary intern, senior veterinary intern, research fellow, and is currently the director of veterinary services. Dr. Karra loves teaching interns, veterinary students, and wildlife rehabilitators from all over the world about wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife medicine. She enjoys all aspects of her job but is particularly fond of treating all things tiny. You will often find her creating micro-bandages and miniature splits for her littlest patients. Her professional goals are centered around advancing the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and learning as much as we can from the patients that come through our doors. Dr. Karra spends her free time with her ever-changing menagerie of pets and her partner, Dr. Patrick, who is also a veterinarian.

Laura Lathan, DVM
Lead Wildlife Veterinarian at Carolina Wildlife Conservation Center
Wildlife Anesthesia 101

Dr. Laura grew up in North Carolina and graduated from NCSU-CVM (go Wolfpack!). She has been working with exotics (along with dogs and cats) since 1995. Her introduction to wildlife came when she moved to Charlotte in 2007, first working with Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas, and then with Carolina Wildlife Conservation Center, where she has been Lead Wildlife Veterinarian since 2021. When she's not being a vet, she enjoys backpacking with the Scouts, cooking, playing Munchkin with her family, and honing her skills twisting balloon animals.

About the May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

The Dan and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is situated adjacent to the Elk River on the campus of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC. The Center annually admits more than 1,500 injured and orphaned wildlife patients from the western part of North Carolina. 

Under the guidance of Director Nina Fischesser and veterinarian Dr. Amber McNamara, students simultaneously contribute to the success of the rehabilitation program while engaging in a one-of-a-kind, hands-on learning experience.  Open 365 days per year, students comprise a large portion of the rehabilitative operations at the Center. 

Spend the Weekend
in Banner Elk

Banner Elk is a popular getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the North Carolina High Country. It’s a place that blends small town relaxation with the amenities of a larger city.

Visitors enjoy a richness of culture and adventure. Within 15 minutes of the town’s lone stoplight you can experience the great outdoors, fabulous dining, theater and the arts, family attractions, and the two largest winter sports venues in the South. (via bannerelk.com)

For More Information

Amber McNamara
Veterinarian, May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Assistant Professor of Biology
mcnamaraa@lmc.edu  |  828.898.3521

This program has been approved for 7.0 hours of continuing education credit in jurisdictions that recognize RACE approval. Please contact the AAVSB RACE program if you have any comments/concerns regarding this program’s validity or relevancy to the veterinary profession.