Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Archive for September 2008

September 28, 2008

Schwarzenegger against more offshore oil drilling

Using his strong memory of the catastrophic 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger renewed his opposition to any new oil drilling off the state’s coastline.

Schwarzenegger remembers walking the beach in his Santa Monica bodybuilding days after the Santa Barbara oil spill: “Every single time I walked around Muscle Beach, my feet were stuck with tar and there were dead birds laying around,” Schwarzenegger told the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco this week. “I think the people of California don’t want to go through that again. I think we must protect our pristine coastline.”

Schwarzenegger’s opposition to additional offshore drilling puts him at odds with other Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain. McCain continues to make offshore oil drilling a major component of his energy platform. He touts the “drill here, drill now” mantra during campaign stops outside California.

Memories of the January 29, 1969 spill are still fresh in this state. The oil spill happened when a Union Oil Co. platform blew out six miles off the coast of Summerland. For eleven days, as 200,000 gallons spewed out of the well, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. Blown by winds and swells the oil created a 800 square mile slick.

At least 3600 birds – mainly grebes and cormorants – died in the spill. The next year only 200 grebes were counted in an area that was once home to 4000 to 7000.

At the time, Fred L. Hartley, president of Union Oil uttered these insensitive words: “I don’t like to call it a disaster,” because there has been no loss of human life; I am amazed at the publicity for the loss of a few birds.”

Following the spill, Earth Day was born nationwide. Many people consider the oil spill a major impetus to the modern environmental movement.

More history:

Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network: 1969 Oil Spill

Oil Spill in Santa Barbara

Media reports on Schwarzenegger’s speech: San Jose Mercury News

September 26, 2008

Reward now at $20,000 for info on pelican attacks

The reward has been increased to $20,000 for information leading to an arrest of the person involved in the brutal attack on nearly a dozen pelicans earlier this month along the coastline of Orange County, CA.

At least 11 California Brown Pelicans suffering from severe wing injuries washed up on Bolsa Chica State Beach between September 15th and September 17th. Seven of the Pelicans were found dead by lifeguards. Four surviving birds were transferred to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, CA.

“The one surviving Pelican is doing well” said Debbie McGuire, Wildlife Director at Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center. “She is eating well, perching well and her weight is up. She is still not flapping, though.”

These Pelicans were young females; three juveniles and one sub-adult. Of these four birds, one is alive with a hopeful prognosis. With the exception of the surviving bird, all the Pelicans had compound fractures of the radius and ulna. “The breaks were horrific; the wings were snapped backward, and the last bird that came into the Wildlife Center had 3-4” of bone projecting from both wings” says Lisa Birkle, Assistant Wildlife Director of the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center.

“In my opinion, these injuries appear to be intentional. This does not naturally happen to eleven birds in the span of three days,” said Birkle. “We have never had this many similar injuries in this short an amount of time, 11 on the same beach”.

Several agencies have partnered to increase the reward fund as they realize the seriousness of this type of animal abuse. The agencies involved are Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, Found Animals Foundation, Bolsa Chica Land Trust and International Bird Rescue and Research Center (pledged by IBRRC Board Members, non-operating funds).

The reward fund is currently at $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever may be injuring these birds. To help raise this reward fund to larger levels, please contact IBRRC’s Jay Holcomb, [ e-mail: jay@ibrrc.org ].

Anyone with information relating to these incidents is encouraged to contact Special Agent Ed Newcomer of U.S. Fish and Wildlife at (310) 328-1516.

Media reports:

KCBS-TV: Reward Offer For Pelican Killer Raised To $20,000

LAist: Protecting our pelicans

KTLA_TV: 11 Pelicans Found Mutilated on Local Beach

September 26, 2008

Wildlife rescue training marks Cosco Busan anniversary

Rescuing disabled wild animals requires a unique set of skills, very different from those used in handling domestic animals. WildRescue is offering a unique class on these commands, taught by international experts who respond to wildlife emergencies on a regular basis. While the class is tailored for animal control officers, park rangers, game wardens, biologists, and wildlife rehabilitators, members of the public are invited. Students must be 18 years or older.

Helping to mark the one-year anniversary of the Cosco Busan disaster, the first class of many classes is being offered November 8th through the Berkeley Marina Shorebird Park Nature Center. A second, hosted by the Farallones Marine Sanctuary, is slated for December 6th, at Crissy Field. For more information on hosting a class in your area, or to register, go to wildrescue.org or call 831-869-6241. Class fee is $40 with discounts available to government agencies and charities.

“There are a lot of people out there who want to know how to help animals in crisis. History has shown us that when we don’t give them that information, they’ll take things into their own hands, said Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center. “By providing this type of training, we’re able to guide people to work within the system for the greater good.”

WildRescue’s director, Rebecca Dmytryk, sees this educational campaign as a means of building a community’s corps of specially trained individuals who may be called upon to rescue injured wild animals – be there one or thousands. She hopes many will be recruited by local rescue organizations wishing to bolster their own capabilities.

September 20, 2008

11 pelicans found with intentionally broken wings

What is it that causes so much anger against Brown Pelicans?

This week 11 young pelicans were found with their wings intentionally broken along an Orange County beach in Southern California. Only one pelican has survived. There’s now a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Local wildlife officials say the attacks appear to be intentional. Lisa Birkle, assistant wildlife director at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, said the injuries were consistent: “Someone is snapping the wings backward.” She said local residents noticed fishing boats close to shore where pelicans also feed.

Pelicans have been a target of cruel and unusual acts. Each year IBRRC bird center wildlife clinics treat pelicans with slashed pouches and other injuries that appear to be intentional. In 2003, IBRRC received mutilated pelicans that showed up at Cabrillo Beach near San Pedro.

The California Brown Pelican is still protected by the Endangered Species Act. Anyone with information relating to these incidents is encouraged to contact Special Agent Ed Newcomer of U.S. Fish and Wildlife at (310) 328-1516.

If you can make a donation to help all pelicans that come into the rescue center, go to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center’s website. To add to the reward money, please call IBRRC at (310) 514-2573.

Read more: Pelicans in Peril

See the Los Angeles Times article:

11 pelicans found with wings broken at Bolsa Chica beach

September 18, 2008

Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday, September 20th

Trash on the beach got you down? Want to make a difference? Participate in the Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday, September 20, 2008.

Beach debris causes major problems for all animals, including discarded fishing tackle that harms birds and mammals. See x-ray of duck (above) with injested fish hook.

For more information:

More info: Call 1 (800) COAST-4U or visit http://www.coast4u.org for more information.

More info on the IBRRC website


San Francisco Chronicle: Colossal coastal clean up planned for Saturday

September 17, 2008

Video report of chronic oiling of penguins in Brazil

Video report of chronic oiling of penguins in Brazil:

At least 260 live penguins are now in care. The Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals (CRAM), one of the Penguin Network member organizations which is a partnership co-managed by IBRRC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is deploying personnel and responding with local organizations to help with oiled birds. The key institutions involved are CRAM (MO FURG); Associacao R3 Animal; CETAS-IBAMA and the local Environmental Police (Policia Militar Ambiental). This response is supported by the Petrobras’ mobile units for oiled wildlife response, through their Center for Environmental Defense (CDA – Itajaí).

And a couple of photos of cleaned penguins:

September 13, 2008

"Fishing for energy" turning trash into electricity

A new program beginning in New England hopes to turn discarded fishing tackle and ocean debris into electricity.

The “Fishing for Energy,” is an effort to work with coastal communities to reduce the amount of abandoned fishing gear that ends up in the nation’s oceans. It’s a joint project with Covanta Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The gear is collected and burned to generate power at a nearby Covanta incinerator. According to the company, the power plant is outfitted with emission control scrubbers that remove pollutants that might be released into the atmosphere from the burning of plastics and toxins in fishing debris.

Each year thousands of pounds of discarded fishing tackle affects the marine environment. At IBRRC we continue to see increasing numbers of birds – especially endangered Brown Pelicans – injured by fishing line, nets and hooks. See: Tangled in trash.

Read the media report

September 13, 2008

Golden Gate Bridge pelican returns to freedom

The brown pelican named “Gigi” that landed and halted traffic in August on the Golden Gate Bridge was released released back to the wild on Friday, September 12. The young bird was rescued and transferred to International Bird Rescue where it has been recuperating for the past several weeks.

Watch: Brown Pelican captured on Golden Gate Bridge

This female brown pelican also had the unique fortune of capturing the attention of filmmaker Judy Irving of Pelican Media, who successfully documented “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.” Irving has decided to include this special bird in her latest project on the life of pelicans. She also filmed the release of Gigi (as in “Golden Gate”) along with a handful of other pelicans nursed back to health at IBR’s San Francisco Bay-Delta Wildlife Center.

Laurie Pyne, Bird Rescue’s Development Director, reports:

The Golden Gate pelican (aka P193) and company was released Friday and all went beautifully! Nancy and Jerry Mix and myself were happily surprised when we pulled up and saw a crowd of people from the Discovery Museum, the two folks that have the little red firetruck and do SF tours, the SF police, the staff from the Golden Gate bridge, and others at the release site at Fort Baker. Everybody was really jazzed to see these truly incredible birds leave their carriers (“GG” was last, of her own accord!), swim en masse in front of everyone before flying in a large circle in front of us and then off into the sunset.

The kids cheered and the folks that rescued her actively participated and they couldn’t stop smiling. Two of them drove in SPECIAL to be there. It was a really wonderful experience for all of us.

Judy Irving filmed every aspect of the release, as she has been filming all of “GG’s” journey for her new short film on pelicans. Some of you have likely seen her hanging around the center with her camera and gear. She is the filmmaker who made “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill”. This was a great opportunity to do some community outreach and the feedback has been really positive and wonderful.

Media story: Golden Gate wayward pelican healed and at home

September 3, 2008

Deadly spill in Brazil: 260 penguins in care

A new oil spill along the coast of Brazil has claimed the lives of hundreds of penguins. All seem to be victims of a spill from an unidentified source. Most of the penguins found dead were in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. (Photos: CRAM/Rodolfo P. Silva)

At least 260 live penguins are now in care. The Center for the Recovery of Marine Animals (CRAM), one of the Penguin Network member organizations which is a partnership co-managed by IBRRC and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), is deploying personnel and responding with local organizations to help with oiled birds. The key institutions involved are CRAM (MO FURG); Associacao R3 Animal; CETAS-IBAMA and the local Environmental Police (Policia Militar Ambiental). This response is supported by the Petrobras’ mobile units for oiled wildlife response, through their Center for Environmental Defense (CDA – Itajaí).

The responsible for the oil leak has not been found and the exact location of the spill had not been located, although it is believed to be offshore Santa Catarina.

When birds come in contact with oil, their feathers lose their ability to keep bird warm and dry. They spend more time trying to clean their feathers, ingest oil, lose strength and many will freeze to death without human intervention.

In the winter of the southern hemisphere, thousands of Magellanic penguins travel as far as Brazil. They travel north through cold ocean currents as they search for food.

View Larger Map

September 1, 2008

Video: Release of pelicans at Golden Gate Bridge

Another group of young pelicans were released back into the wild by IBRRC volunteers this weekend at Fort Baker near the Golden Gate Bridge. Most if not all of these brown pelicans had been rescued from collision of birds and anglers off the Santa Cruz County coastline in August. A lot of the pelicans came in with fishing tackle injuries before authorities closed the fishing piers in the Santa Cruz area.

Here are our five beautiful brown pelicans being released near Fort Baker. Quite a crowd had gathered in the parking lot on the higher level. All were quiet and respectful. There were many smiles.

John did the release. He wasn’t sure what to do when the first two pelis wouldn’t leave their carrier. He tried gently tilting the carrier. That didn’t work, of course. Then he tried to prop the carrier door open so he could go open the next two carriers. By that time, the first two had worked up their confidence and ventured out, followed by the others. The last to leave wasn’t sure…. He hung around for a little while, trying to make up his mind. We gave him as much time as he needed. And then he must have seen the others, and he took off. I was glad to see that all five were reunited in the water.

Thanks to Jean for the video report.