Nov 26, 2006
The Marine Wildlife Care Facility on the Humboldt State University campus was activated Wednesday, November 22 to handle the care and stabilization of birds from Humboldt Bay that were oiled as a result of what official from the California Department of Fish and Games Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) is calling an oil spill.
HSU’s Marine Wildlife Care Facility in Arcata had not been activated since 1999, but over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend volunteers, staff of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), and HSU students and faculty worked to save 53 oiled birds.
“We did not observe any additional oil on the water in Humboldt Bay,” said Kris Wiese, a State Fish and Game biologist. “The success of this wildlife rescue can be attributed to the excellent coordination of the public volunteers, OWCN and state and local agencies responding to this incident.”
Richard Golightly, HSU Professor of wildlife management said, “A dozen volunteers worked on this project over the weekend. They included several graduate students and volunteers from the Humboldt Wildlife Care Group.”
“Response time of these volunteers was impressive,” he said. “It was a holiday weekend and we had the HSU Marine Wildlife Care Facility up and running within three hours of spotting the first oiled bird.”
All birds that were found alive have survived. Golightly said when a bird is oiled its feathers can no longer repel water. As a result, the bird becomes wet, weak, and cold, and can die of hypothermia. But he said at this point, only a few are suffering from minor infections.
HSU’s wildlife facility is a member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. After birds were stabilized on the HSU campus, most were transported to the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia.
The final group of 11 birds is expected to leave Arcata today for that facility, where tanks and equipment are permanently in place. HSU’s facility has similar water tanks, but they are not permanently in place. “This also allows for our preparation if additional birds were to appear,” said Golightly.
“The source of the contamination in this incident is still under investigation,” said Fish and Game Warden Matt Gonzales.
For more information, contact Rick Golightly, HSU Professor of Wildlife Management, at (707) 826-3952 or Rob Hughes, CA Department of Fish and Games Office of Spill, Prevention and Response at (916)-323-6286.