Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘volunteers staff’

January 10, 2008

IBRRC team helping at Argentina oil spill

Two senior IBRRC oil spill response members are now on Argentina’s Patagonia coastline to assist with a mystery oil spill that has affected more than 400 birds. IBRRC’s Executive Director Jay Holcomb and Rehabilitation Manager Michelle Bellizzi arrived in South America yesterday to help an international team of wildlife experts treat oiled birds. Listen to KCBS radio report

Also joining the team are three IBRRC interns, José María “Chema” Barredo, Laura Barcelo and Yeray Seminario fresh from their experiences on the San Francisco Bay oil spill. All interns are fluent in Spanish.

Currently there are 430 oiled birds in care, including 20 steamer ducks, 200 Magellanic penguins, 180 silvery and crested grebes, 41 cormorants. The steamer ducks and Magellanic penguins are the highest conservation priority as they’re both listed as near threatened by Birdlife International.

Fundación Patagonia Natural (FPN) staff member Carla Poleschi is the Wildlife Branch Director for the Argentine Government’s Incident Management Team. Carla has worked with IFAW on other spill responses in Argentina and has asked for the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Emergency Response Team to help manage the wildlife response.

Spill clean-up is underway and being handled by the Navy but the Government has yet to determine the source spill. The oil spill has covered an area of 24 square kilometres in the Atlantic Ocean. Recent satellite imagery is being analyzed to try and determine the cause of the spill.

An oil spill of unknown origin was detected on December 26, 2007 along the coast of Chubut Province, in Argentina. The spill site is located 12 km north of Comodoro Rivadavia, in Caleta Cordova, approximately 1,740 km south of Buenos Aires.


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The Argentine Government is supporting the development of a wildlife response facility, as well as providing supplies and equipment needed to care for animals. In addition to the the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s IFAW ER Team, there are approximately 100 volunteers under their direction, assisting with the rescue effort.

IBRRC is no stranger to working in South America. It helped in Argentina in 1991 and since then has helped develop and manage the IFAW/IBRRC Penguin Network. The network as ben instrumental in bringing many South American wildlife groups together to share resources, information and expertise. See: Penguin Network info

IBRRC works in partnership with IFAW worldwide to response to major spills and develop trainings to help local groups learn how to best treat oiled animals. IFAW is again sponsoring IBRRC staff and other wildlife professionals Mexico and elsewhere to travel to this remote region.

Hear KCBS radio report

November 22, 2007

Finding time to be thankful

If any oil spill can have a silver lining, it’s this: There’s an incredible amount of caring, dedicated people in California trying their best to look after the animals harmed during this tragedy.

Nearly EVERY organization in the 25 member Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) sent staff and volunteers to work on this spill. They joined up with vets from UC Davis to access, wash, fortify, hydrate and care for the hundreds of birds that flowed into the International Bird Rescue and Research Center in Cordelia, CA. Other volunteers stepped up to transport oiled birds to the center and still more have been in the field to directing search and collection crews to more oiled avian victims.

The public has been moved to action with time, money and other donations. A resourceful fourth grader from Berkeley, Haley Gee, pleading for money to help the birds, captured people’s sentiment exactly: “Mother nature is sick. We need to help her. So do something!”

As volunteers and staff continue to work with determination this Thanksgiving Day. They’re readying birds for an upcoming release at Point Reyes. So far, over 120 birds have completed the rehabilitation cycle and have been set free; more are scheduled this week.

This is not easy work. Many oiled birds have died in the field and others have succumbed in treatment. It’s a race against time and circumstance and sometimes the outcome is less than desired. But most wildlife rescue folks don’t give up easily.

Government bureaucracies are not always on the side of helping slow spreading oil slicks or quickly helping endangered animals, but the clear fact is that we work with what we have and learn from mistakes made.

Pontificating politicians don’t provide much solace. But if the people of the Bay Area are any indication, this spill will galvanize spirit, resolve and resources to work on making sure the next time oil darkens these local waters, and it will, the response will be swifter and better thought out.

That’s a silver lining we should work toward and hopefully in the end, find greater thanks.

Listen to Podcast: PBS News Hour report