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$1M gift funds internship at Wildlife Clinic

by Mark Sullivan

From bears to turtles to great horned owls, wild animals that are injured will benefit from a recent million-dollar gift to the Cummings School, as will the veterinarians being trained to treat them.

The $1 million commitment by Overseer Gabriel Schmergel and his wife, Valerie, toward the Wildlife Medicine Program at the Cummings School includes support for five years for the Gabriel and Valerie Schmergel Internship in Wildlife Medicine.

The Wildlife Clinic at the Cummings School treats a range of New England birds, mammals and other animals, and has been designated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as the official New England treatment center for rare and endangered species.

Black bears, moose and coyotes are among the nearly 2,000 cases annually treated at the clinic.

The Schmergels' generosity will fund the internship at the Wildlife Clinic for the next five years, starting this July.

Mr. Schmergel said his wife and he wished to direct their gift to the Cummings School to an area in which it would have the greatest impact.

Black bears and Blanding's turtles, he observed, don't have owners who will make contributions toward the Wildlife Clinic. "Wild animals don't have the constituency that pets and horses do," he said. "It's hard for them to make an appeal."

Clinic director Mark Pokras said the gift will have far-reaching impact: "Given the importance of wildlife medicine for looking at public health, at emerging diseases, and at conservation programs, there is a great need for more professionals to be trained in this area," he said.