From: Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of IBRRC:
Hi everyone. I wanted to wrap up the year by telling you what we are up to and just wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. To most people this time of year is a time for celebrating and being with family and friends. It is the same for us also but at IBRRC we spend a lot of time NOT talking about oil spills during the holidays hoping that if we don’t acknowledge them then they won’t happen. Instead we just keep our fingers crossed, hoping that an oil spill will not happen and we wont be called into action. It comes from years of sacrificing holidays to oil spills. Make no mistake, its an honor for us to care for the birds in an oil spill but it is rarely convenient and always difficult. That is why we call this time of the year our, “oil spill season”. It is the season that we see the most oil spills.
We have had some close calls so far this year and one spill that we responded to in Santa Barbara. A few weeks ago there was a spill in Santa Barbara and we responded as a participant organization of California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). Only 3 oiled birds, two grebes and one red throated loon, were captured and rehabilitated in the San Pedro center. Unfortunately the loon died but the two grebes survived and were released on December 18 in San Pedro.
On Friday, December 19, we were put on alert for a possible spill in San Pablo Bay. A tanker carrying about 272,500 barrels of diesel fuel grazed the bottom of Pinole Shoal Channel in the San Pablo Bay off the coast of Rodeo. Luckily there was no oil spilled but it did nothing for our already frayed nerves. It was a close one and frankly, I was really angry when I heard of this close call. Not because of the possible loss of our holidays but because it was just a year after the Cosco Busan spill and, once again, we were shown how vulnerable the San Francisco Bay is and how in one moment everything can change. There are literally hundreds of thousands of migrating birds, ducks, shorebirds, grebes and loons, using that section of the bay right now and a spill would have been disastrous to them. Fresh spilled diesel fuel is usually deadly to these animals and often burns the lungs of the birds as they breath the fumes. It also burns their sensitive skin. We experience our highest mortality rates with highly refined fuels such as diesel and jet fuels.
Its not always oil spills that we see this time of year. On Saturday we took in a beautiful male wild turkey who was the victim of a an intentional attack. This male turkey has regularly visited the yard of some Castro Valley residents for many years but for the last 6 weeks it showed up in the yard with an arrow through its body. The turkey is one member of a flock of turkeys that live in this neighborhood and are fed and supported by kind and compassionate individuals. Our colleagues and response team members, Duane and Rebecca Titus of WildRescue, worked diligently to design a special trap to capture the bird and bring it to our center for care. After weeks of working out the kinks they captured the bird on Saturday and brought it to our clinic in Cordelia. Shannon Riggs, our on site veterinarian who is provide to us through the OWCN, managed by the University of California at Davis, removed the arrow and cleaned its wounds. The arrow was shot with such force that it broke the femur in one leg and went through the other side of the birds body. X-rays and an exam indicated that the leg had healed. Although not perfect or straight, it was still healed. The bird remained at the center until today, December 22, when it was taken back to Castro Valley and released back into its flock. This Christmas turkey was one of the lucky ones.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to IBRRC over the last year. We are grateful and the animals have benefited from your generosity. Thank you!
With fingers crossed that we don’t experience an oily or busy holiday season, we at IBRRC wish you all a joyful Christmas, happy Hanukkah and abundant New Year.