Every Bird Matters
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Posts Tagged ‘Bird shooting Oakland Airport International Bird Rescue Research Center IBRRC’

April 29, 2010

Team activated to help in massive gulf oil spill

A team of aquatic-bird rescue specialists from International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in California have been activated in an effort to support local groups preparing for oil spill impact on wildlife in Louisiana.

The team of four wildlife rescue experts will be led by oil spill veteran and IBRRC Director, Jay Holcomb, who has responded to 200+ oil spills around the world, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. The team will be working to support local wildlife groups and other organizations as preparations continue for the potential of wildlife casualties from the Deepwater Horizon spill.

“This is a real team effort between all groups involved,” says Holcomb. “While International Bird Rescue has a great deal of experience at managing large-scale oiled wildlife rescue efforts, our primary role here will be to support local groups and to work together to make sure we do everything we can to minimize the impact on local wildlife.”

As well as Holcomb, the team will include a team veterinarian, rehabilitation manager and capture specialist. Once on the ground, the International Bird Rescue Team will work with local organizations to determine the need for additional deployments in the coming days or weeks.

Team Bios:

Jay Holcomb – Jay has been the Executive Director at International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) since 1988. Since then Jay has led IBRRC’s oiled wildlife rescue team on over 200 oil spill responses around the world, including spills in France, Germany, Spain, Norway, Estonia, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands as well as in the US.

Heather Nevill – Heather is a native of Louisiana and is IBRRC’s Response Team Veterinarian as well as the Veterinarian for IBRRC’s Los Angeles Bird Rescue Center.

Julie Skoglund – Julie is the Rehabilitation Manager for IBRRC’s Los Angeles Bird Rescue Center. She has responded to over a dozen oil spills and recently managed the rescue of over 400 brown pelicans in Southern California.

Duane Titus – Duane is a member of IBRRC’s Emergency Response team as well as a Capture Specialist for California-based WildRescue. Duane is a Facilities and Search and Capture Specialist.

We’ve been there before

IBRRC isn’t a stranger to Louisiana oil spills. In 2005 it assisted local wildlife rescue groups following the Tropical Storm Arlene. Following the storm, Breton National Wildlife Refuge was hard hit, where thousands birds were in the middle of nesting season. As the storm swept over the area it carried with it light crude oil that had spilled from a nearby oil rig. Even though the spill was only 12-15 barrels, the storm carried it on the waves, which swept over the low island, covering the pelican chicks with oil.

Within days a large warehouse in Venice, Louisiana had quickly been converted into a mash unit with 70 wildlife specialists and veterinarians evaluating and medically stabilizing the surviving birds before they could be washed. A total of 959 birds were recovered; all but three were brown pelicans and of these 268 were live chicks.

How to help

As an individual, you may feel you can’t help oiled wildlife. You can. Help the non-profit organizations that help oiled animals in your area. If you live in a coastal area, there is an organization struggling to help them – support it. If you live in California, you can help support International Bird Rescue’s ongoing rescue work by donating, becoming a member or adopting a bird.

Media inquiries: Please contact Paul Kelway. E-mail: paul.kelway@ibrrc.org

More photos/info on Gulf spill:

MSNBC’s Picture Stories – Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster

Gulf spill is really a river of oil, environmentalists say: The Times-Picayune

January 8, 2010

Seabirds Rescued from Oakland Airport Shooting Die in Care

Two Western Gulls, rescued from the seabird shooting incident at Oakland International Airport on December 23rd have died in care at the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in Fairfield, California. Both sustained multiple gun shot wounds as a result of a decision by airport officials to shoot into large flocks of birds gathered in the water close to the runway in an effort to ensure air traffic safety.

The two gulls were the last of five birds found injured but alive following the incident that have since died in care despite efforts by IBRRC’s expert rehabilitation team to heal their wounds. In total more than 60 birds died in the incident.

As we previously stated, IBRRC supports any and all humane methods to haze birds away from airports to insure human safety. However, we strongly suggest that Oakland International Airport reconsider its tactics which, in this instance, were neither effective nor humane.

All the evidence seems to suggest that the birds were feeding on a ‘bait ball,’ a large school of fish that attracts birds and marine mammals to feed in high numbers. It’s unlikely that the birds dispersed after some were shot. If they did, it was most likely due to the moving fish.

The only way to disrupt a bait ball would be to disperse the fish, not the birds. As such, it would be much more effective to consider these events as an act of nature, like bad weather. They are often short-lived and will disperse quickly and of their own accord.

January 2, 2010

Gathering of Birds at Oakland Airport Probably an Act of Nature

Leading Seabird expert Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), has offered an explanation for why thousands of birds were in Oyster Bay by the Oakland Airport and unable to be dispersed.

The shooting of birds on Christmas Eve at the Oakland Airport by the USDA left untold numbers dead and many injured on the beaches causing alarm to the public and even California Fish & Game wondering what happened. As news reports surfaced, none asked the most important question; why were thousands of birds gathered in Oyster Bay and why were they unable to be dispersed?

Holcomb is offering an explanation with the hope of educating the “expert” who made the following statement to the press following the shootings: “The birds were focused on something in the water at the end of the runway,” USDA Wildlife Services spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said.

The most likely explanation for what the birds were focused on in the water is an act of nature commonly referred to as a “bait ball,” said Jay Holcomb, a leading expert on the behavior of water birds. “A bait ball is a term used for a school of fish that swim tightly together like a moving ball. It is often associated with bait fish, herring, smelt, etc. hence a bait ball. When bait balls happen they attract birds and marine mammals who take the opportunity to feed. Bait balls move, and the birds move with them. A question to ask is did the birds disperse after some were shot? It’s unlikely and if they did it was most likely due to the moving fish. The only way to disrupt a bait ball would be to disperse the fish, not the birds.” Birds like pelicans dive from the air to catch the fish but cormorants and most other fish eating birds do not.

IBRRC was contacted late on December 23rd and was asked to assist in capturing injured birds south of the Oakland airport. Five birds with gun shot wounds were transported to IBRRC’s hospital in Fairfield. Three died and two are in guarded condition.

Holcomb says IBRRC supports any and all humane methods to haze birds away from airports to insure human safely. If these methods are not effective and government officials approve the killing of birds near an airport, it is our opinion that this must be done quickly, professionally and humanely. This also means that the bodies of dead birds should be picked up and any live injured birds should be humanely euthanized.

In the case of the Oyster Point incident local authorities were not informed that birds would be shot. At least 60 birds of various fish eating species, including brown pelicans, cormorants and gulls were shot and their bodies left floating in the area creating a concern that a poaching incident had occurred. Additionally a number of live injured birds with bloody broken wings and other injuries were found by the public creating an unnecessary incident that created emotional stress to people’s lives and forced IBRRC to pick up the cost of capturing the birds and caring for survivors.

“The chance of a bait ball occurring again in that location is rare. Should it happen again the airport biologist will hopefully recognize that this is an act of nature, just like the weather, allow the fish and birds to move off and make decisions accordingly.”