Friday, July 23, 2010

Questions I want answers to when I go to the Gulf

Laughing Gull
Originally uploaded by Laura Erickson
1) How many birds have been oiled on Raccoon Island and other breeding colony sites?

2) What training have people been required to have to pick up oiled birds in past spills?

3) What training are people required to have to pick up oiled birds in this disaster? Are there enough responders to reach reported birds in a timely manner?

4) Oiled birds on Raccoon Island have been reported several times, but no one has yet rescued the still living birds or collected the dead ones. Why not?

5) If there is not enough manpower to collect dead birds, doesn't that make the official figures of oiled wildlife ludicrously low?

6) Shorebird migration is already underway, and songbird, waterfowl, loon, and Whooping Crane migration will be kicking in soon. What preparations are being made to ensure that oiled migrants are rescued in a timely way?

7) According to the website's fact sheet about oiled birds:
Once a call is received and it is determined to be
within the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response
area, a wildlife response team is notified. A team
equipped with appropriate personal protective
equipment (PPE) is dispatched from staging areas
that are based on the location of the animal, the
previous day’s response activities, and anticipated
movement of oil. Given the dynamic nature of
the situation, the weather, and the location of the
distressed animal, response time can vary.

Once the bird is located by the response team, it
is placed carefully in an animal carrier or kenneltype
container. The bird is then taken to one of
four area rehabilitation centers staffed by employees
of the Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Center,
the International Bird Rescue Research Center,
and other paraprofessionals and volunteers,
all of whom are trained in wildlife rehabilitation.
The rehabilitation centers are located in Ft. Jackson,
Louisiana; Gulfport, Mississippi; Theodore,
Alabama; and Pensacola, Florida.

Questions: How many people and vehicles are available each day on the "Wildlife Response Team" to pick up oiled birds? And do wildlife rehab experts agree that one rehab site per state is sufficient? Do wildlife rehab experts agree that having some small mobile field stations, located where oil appears, is impractical?

I'm sure I'll be coming up with more questions when I get down there. I'm hoping to find that there are an adequate number of rehabbers collecting, transporting, and treating wild birds. I'm hoping that it's not true that birds reported to the Wildlife Response Team days ago are dying and the Response Team has not responded. I'm hoping that there are plans underway to monitor songbirds as well as waterbirds, and adequate trained teams will be able to respond to emergencies during migration.

1 comment:

  1. Nice questions,

    The answer to the question about safety and training requirements of rescuers on past spills, is that it varies. From state to state and from spill to spill.

    Is one rehabilitation center per state adequate? As long as there are well run stabilization centers set up in a thoughtful way geographically, they will reduce the amount of time a bird is carried after being caught. Once a bird is stabilized it can be easily transported some distance with minimal risk on the order of a thousands of a percent.

    Having centralized regionals centers or (State Centers) the rehabilitators are able to concentrate the most highly trained personnel in a sound management structure. Caring for and successfully rehabilitating many of these species takes a level of finnesse that requires all of my over 20 years of experience to do with minimal mortalities.

    How would you get a common tern to eat? versus a spoon bill? versus a pelican rail or skimmer. Some birds can be washed sooner with low mortality based on health parameters but when the same parameters are applied to a different species you may see a 70% plus mortality. Even experienced vet and zoo training does not apply here, the professionals provide and missing expertise. Dispersing such human resources means many more sensitive species will not recieve the care they need to survive.

    Than people say "Oh they died from the oil" when really they will have died from stress and lack of adequate husbandry knowledge.

    Keep asking your questions and keep seeking the answers!