Skip to main content
Animal Care

From the Wilds of Kentucky, Chase Carey Reports

Students at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine have access to all kinds of internships, externships and research experiences during their four years of school. This summer, several students are sharing some of what they're doing and learning in real time.

Chase Carey in Kentucky
Chase Carey is working with a state wildlife veterinarian in Kentucky this summer.

JUNE 4, 2024

I’ve been working in Kentucky only about two weeks now, but it has been packed full of new and interesting experiences. 

This summer, I am working as a wildlife health intern for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, under one of only a few dozen state wildlife veterinarians in the United States. I have been able to jump in on a number of research projects exploring emerging diseases of wildlife in the state. 

The majority of my time has been spent on our tick surveillance and eDNA monitoring projects, which have been very interesting and challenging. For our tick surveys, we put out CO2 traps that use dry ice to attract ticks and catch them on sticky tape. Additionally, we drag a large cloth on the ground vegetation across a transect to catch ticks sitting on the plants. The ticks are then collected in vials and sent to a wildlife lab in Georgia for identification and disease testing. We are looking to see which species of ticks and the diseases they carry are present in Kentucky across different habitats (such as forests or open fields). Needless to say, I have found too many ticks on me to count!

Using a sheet to collect ticks, right, in a field.

Our second project involves collecting water samples from ponds across the state and testing them for eDNA, or environmental DNA, of specific amphibian diseases. The project is part of an ongoing effort of the KDFWR Wildlife Health Program to monitor emerging amphibian diseases, such as Chytrid fungus (Bsal) and Ranavirus. We collect the water in small bottles and then filter them through a small paper filter that is able to collect the eDNA for testing. This process is super exciting to learn about and see in action!

I also have been able to perform a few necropsies on wildlife and deer to examine the cause of death and collect organ samples for disease testing and research purposes. While all of this may not seem like glamorous work, I see real purpose and excitement in it. I have loved seeing how the disease processes and veterinary concepts we have been learning at the CVM are being applied to real-world conservation issues!

Chase also will be collecting water samples from ponds and testing them for eDNA, or environmental DNA, of specific amphibian diseases.