Passive surveillance of wildlife disease is a valuable tool for the identification of emerging and changing disease patterns. Free-ranging leporids play an important role in their ecosystem and in the culture and diet of Canadians; however, little is known about their health status and the zoonotic pathogens they may carry. We summarized major causes of mortality and morbidity, as well as incidental infections and lesions, of free-ranging leporids submitted to the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative (CWHC) between 1990 and 2019. We identified Canadian leporids as competent hosts for several zoonotic pathogens, most notably Francisella tularensis (20/569; 3.5%). Trauma was the most frequent cause of mortality or morbidity among leporids, accounting for 46.0% of cases submitted to the CWHC, followed by bacterial infections (13.7%) and emaciation (5.1%). Human-mediated mortalities, such as those involving machines (23.7%), were the most common trauma case type, with apparently healthy individuals overrepresented within this mortality group. Harvesters proved to be a valuable resource for the monitoring of diseased and infected animals, as more than half (69.6%) of the animals submitted by this group had an incidental infection or lesion. The results from this study provide a scientific understanding the cause of mortality in free-ranging leporids in Canada with relevance to public health, wildlife biologists, veterinarians, and potential future surveillance programs.

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