Frequently asked questions

Click on the green bars to reveal the answers to your questions:

All wildlife that has been found dead (with the exception of sea mammals, see below), can be reported to the DWHC. We are particularly interested in:

    • Extraordinary death(s) of commonly occurring species.
    • Rare species.
    • The ‘focus species’ of the year; In 2021 these are the european polecat, beech marten (also known as stone marten) and pine marten.
  • Birds species that do not need to be reported to the other authorities (see below); and bird deaths that are not suspected of being related to botulism or criminal activity
    • Bird deaths that should be reported to the NVWA: More than two waterbirds (swans, ducks, geese) found in the same place should be reported to the NVWA for avian influenza monitoring via telephone: 045 546 31 88.
    • When botulism is suspected in bird deaths the local authority or local water authority should be informed
    • If you believe that the death was the result of criminal activity, contact the police.
  • Click here to report finding a dead sea mammal e.g. dolphin, whale, porpoise (site in Dutch).

You can report your finding via the submission form on our website. You will receive a copy of your completed form by email as confirmation that your report has been sent.

After submitting your form you will be contacted by the DWHC who will advise you on how to package the cadaver and arrange collection of the package from your home or place of work.

For post-mortem investigation it is essential that the cadavers are in a fresh state i.e. not dead for more than one day; cadavers should not be frozen. It is therefore preferable to report your finding as soon as possible and to keep the cadaver in a cool (not frozen) place until it can be collected.

The DWHC assesses all reports and will contact you to determine whether or not the cadaver that you found is suitable for further investigation. This will depend on:

  • how fresh the cadaver is i.e. how long (approximately) the animal has been dead,
  • if it is an unusual case (e.g. many animals),
  • if it is a rare species,
  • if it is a cadaver of a focus species,
  • the number of previously investigated animals of that species,
  • the number of cadavers submitted already on that day,
  • the day of the week (very few cases can be collected over the weekend Fri-Sun),
  • the location for collection of the packaged cadaver.

The rate of decomposition of a cadaver depends on a range of factors including the temperature and the species. In general, investigation of cause of death and reliable assessment of health status is only possible on cadavers that have not been dead for more than one day (24 hours).

In exceptional cases, for example outbreaks in rare species, we may accept cadavers for post-mortem investigation that have been dead longer than one day, but preferably less than one week.

In commonly occurring wildlife species extraordinary death can be:

  • findings of multiple cadavers in the same location
  • more than usual deaths for a particular time of year
  • the animal was seen showing unusual behaviour before it died
  • an animal appeared ill before it died

Cadavers being prepared for collection by the DWHC courier should be double-packaged . Attach a print-out of the completed submission form (or a note with the species and your contact details) to the outer packaging;  Extra information about handling and packaging the cadaver is available (in Dutch) here.

The DWHC works together with a courier service; after we have contacted you to determine whether or not the cadaver is suitable for further investigation we will arrange a suitable time and place for collection of the (double) packaged cadaver. The DWHC does not collect cadavers from the field.

You will not be charged anything for reporting or submitting a cadaver. The costs of the courier and post-mortem investigation are covered by the DWHC. During large-scale outbreaks or when forensic investigation is required other rules may apply.

You can report cadavers via the submission form on the website.

If you have questions mail us at dwhc@uu.nl.

You can reach us by telephone Monday to Friday between 09.00 and 13.00 on 030 253 79 25. At other times your call will be transferred to a voicemail service which will ask you to leave your message and contact details so that we can call you back.

Most wildlife species are protected in the Netherlands, even if they are dead.This means that the possession, transport or offering for transport of these protected native species is considered illegal. The DWHC has an exemption in order to be able to accept wildlife cadavers for research purposes; we can send a temporary permit to you via text message so that you can handle and / or transport the wildlife cadaver in preparation for further investigation by the DWHC.

General questions:

If you put food out for birds in your garden then follow this advice to minimize the risk of creating a source of disease infection.

  • Clean feeders and bird tables daily and disinfect them regularly with a product such as dilute household bleach (5% Sodium hypochlorite); rinse them thoroughly and allow to dry before putting out new food.
  • Reposition feeders regularly to avoid dropped food and feces accumulating in one spot.
  • Rinse out bird baths daily and allow to dry before re-filling.
  • During an outbreak feeding should be reduced stopped during 2-4 weeks.

Personal protective equipment
Disposable gloves should be worn when handling dead birds and when cleaning; wash your hands thoroughly afterwards, especially before eating or drinking.

  • Disposable gloves should always be worn when handling wildlife cadavers (and disposed of appropriately after use).
  • Wounds should be thoroughly cleaned as disinfected; existing wounds should be appropriately covered.
  • Consumption of dead wildlife by pets or humans is not advised.

If you suspect a case of a notifiable disease such as classic swine fever or foot and mouth diseae you should contact the NVWA (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) by calling 045 546 31 88. You will not be charged for reporting a suspect case. Cadavers should not be moved.

A list of notifiable diseases (in Dutch) is available at Regeling preventie, bestrijding en monitoring van besmettelijke dierziekten en zoönosen en TSE’s (Title 1, chapter 2, paragraph 1, art 2 t/m 8)

Translocation of wild animals includes the (re-) introduction or supplementing of wild animal populations. A permit is required for the translocation of live wild animals. This is detailed in Dutch policy (Kamerstuk 31200 XIV, nr. 215) and is included in National guidelines. The Netherlands is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and therefore adheres to IUCN guidelines, including those referring to translocation / (re-) introduction of wild animals.

  • Disposable gloves should always be worn when handling wildlife cadavers (and disposed of appropriately after use).
  • Wounds should be thoroughly cleaned as disinfected; existing wounds should be appropriately covered.
  • Was your hands thoroughly after handling wildlife and again before eating or drinking

Extra  measures:

  • Evisceration of does: Due to the risk of infection with the Q-fever pathogen:
    • Wear rubber boots and thoroughly disinfect them on completion.
    • Wear a face mask with an FFP2 filter; standard face masks do not protect against the Q-fever bacteria.
    • Wear single-use overalls and dispose of these appropriately after use.
  • Evisceration of hares (and rinsing with water):
    • If you rinse out your hare carcase with water after evisceration (this method is used in Germany) wear a face mask with an FFP2 filter.