Friday, May 7, 2010

Wildlife Efforts Towards the Gulf Coast Oil Spill - What You Can Do NOW

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research has been asked to oversee the wildlife rehabilitation response along the Gulf Coast and is working closely with many collaborating organizations, including the Alabama Wildlife Center. All response efforts are being coordinated by the Unified Command on-site.

Tri-State has been responding to wildlife involved in oil spills since 1976. Tri-State has a trained, dedicated staff on call 24-hours-a-day to respond to wildlife contaminated by oil spills anywhere in the world. Tri-State is one of only two organizations in the country that can professionally manage a response to a major spill. They are the lead agency and have contacted AWC and asked us to have our staff and volunteers with oiled wildlife experience on standby.

BP has made a solid commitment to Tri-State to cover their costs associated with the response to this incident, including the wildlife aspect. However, please remember that small collaborating agencies like AWC are using their own funds to respond to the fifty-plus calls and emails we're receiving daily, media requests, preparations to respond should we be called to assist, as well as the eventuality that should our experienced staff be called to the Coast, there will be transportation, housing and meal expenses. In addition there will also be the cost of trying to cover the workload back here at AWC while experienced staff is away. All this is also taking place during what is our most demanding season of the year. We are currently operating near capacity in our rehabilitation clinic.

We are hearing that wildlife supporters are feeling frustrated by the fact that they are not being put into action. Please know that even the most experienced wildlife rehabilitators are also in a holding pattern. We encourage you to channel your concerns and frustrations into the actions that are available at this time:

1. Fundraise/Donate - Take action to help wildlife agencies to absorb their increased expenses related to the spill. Most of us operate hand-to-mouth, and few have contingency funds for disasters like this. We anticipate that if somewhere down the road there is reimbursement for some expenses from BP, they won't likely cover the expense of responding to the public's requests for information (very time-consuming), our efforts to organize and prepare for our potential call to serve on the Coast, and the cost of covering for our absent staff and volunteers who may be called to help on the Coast. You can donate online at

2. Volunteer Now - Help your favorite wildlife agency now. In addition to being in the midst of our most demanding season of the year, we are all experiencing a greatly increased workload simply responding to folks who are contacting us for information. You can help us to organize and be prepared to mobilize when the call to serve arrives. You can also begin training to help us fill in the gaps once our experienced staff and volunteers are called to the Coast. To volunteer at AWC, email To begin training as an Animal Care volunteer, register online for the Sunday, June 6 orientation from 1-4pm.

3. Experienced Rehabbers Register - A Paraprofessional Coordinator (PPC) has been assigned to compile a list and organize scheduling of potential responders providing the information requested below. Paraprofessionals located within the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas will have first preference in scheduling and will be scheduled for efforts located within their home state. If you are located outside of these states and are interested in providing wildlife assistance, please submit the same requested information. All responders will be contacted by the PPC when their assistance is needed.

You must include your name, address including city and state, phone number (prefer cell phone and alternate numbers), email address, if you have prior oil spill experience, and how far you can travel, as well as:
a. If you are a Rehabilitator with at least 6 months of experience;
b. What species you have experience with, i.e. wading birds, raptors, pelagic seabirds, waterfowl, etc. It would also be beneficial to know if you are a veterinarian or an avian veterinarian, a veterinary technician, or a well-seasoned rehabilitator;
c. If you have a minimum of 4 hours of HAZCOM certification;
d. If you have Rabies pre-exposure shots;
e. Your availability. (This can be a rough estimate by identifying dates available.)

Experienced Rehabbers should direct inquires or any calls about your interest in providing wildlife assistance to or to 404/679-7049.

A paraprofessional is defined as individuals that:
  • Either possess, or work directly under a person possessing, an active permit or authorization related to the species to be worked on;

  • Are affiliated with a wildlife organization working within the Wildlife Branch of the Incident Command Structure (ICS), or is a staff member of a wildlife Trustee agency;

  • Agree to work under, and abide by, appropriate planning documents prepared by the Unified Command (such as Site Safety Plan, Incident Action Plan, public affairs requirement, etc.) and

  • Have a working knowledge and experience (at least 3 months) with the general protocol, procedures and safety hazards associated with working on the species of question.

  • Anyone who does not qualify as a paraprofessional and is still interested in volunteering may register at Gulf of Mexico-Deepwater Horizon Incident Volunteer Request Info.

    Please avoid going to affected areas or handling wildlife until you are part of a coordinated response effort. Thank you in advance for your assistance and for your willingness to help America's wildlife.

    Beth Bloomfield, Executive Director
    Alabama Wildlife Center
    205-663-7930 Ext. 5

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