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Answering the need in Alaska

IBRRC's Anchorage oiled wildlife care facility is ready to help during a spill

Crested auklet photo

A rehabilitated crested auklet swims in pool at IBRRC's bird care center in Anchorage, Alaska. (IBRRC photo)

The Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) located in Anchorage, is a program of the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). IBRRC is recognized throughout the world as the leader in oiled wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. Major funding for the Alaska Wildlife Response Center is provided by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and Alaska Clean Seas.

History

Historically, oil spills without existing or centralized facilities have consistently yielded lower success rates in oiled wildlife rehabilitation. During the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the scale and geographical circumstances once again emphasized this fact. Clearly, logistical continuity must be a priority during oil spills.

In 1991, IBRRC proposed the concept of the AWRC to the petroleum industry as a proactive regional approach to oil spills involving wildlife. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and Alaska Clean Seas became the centers primary sponsors.

Purpose

The purpose of the Alaska Wildlife Response Center (AWRC) is to reduce the impact of oil contamination on wildlife by:

• Providing a centralized and specifically designed "turnkey" oiled wildlife response facility for the state of Alaska.

• Providing professional personnel from IBRRC in the event of an oil spill involving wildlife.

• Facilitating well-directed research efforts on the effects of oil on wildlife and techniques to mitigate those effects.

• Providing specialized services to the oil industry, wildlife trustee agencies, and the scientific community in preparing for an oil spill.

• Providing an IBRRC Alaska Representative to network with industry and trustee agencies on a regular basis.

The AWRC has 12,000 square feet of building space dedicated to animal care. This is divided into animal holding areas for pens and pools, bird washing and rinsing room, food preparation kitchen, laundry area and separate animal hospital and lab rooms. There is also 3,200 square feet of additional indoor space divided into offices, training room, lunch room, bathrooms and storage areas. The outside area is 17,500 square feet with 3 pools and additional trailer space. When the AWRC is not being used for spill response or training, it is the home of Bird Treatment and Learning Center (Bird TLC), a local wildlife rehabilitation organization.

IBRRC's Alaska Center photo

AWRC is located centrally located in Anchorage, Alaska

Contingency Planning

IBRRC works with the petroleum industry and government agencies in planning for the capture and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife. Planning includes identification and stockpiling of necessary supplies and resources and the design of practical search and collection, stabilization, and transport programs. The AWRC is crucial to all of IBRRC's planning efforts in Alaska as it is centrally located and is the only "turn key" oiled bird rehabilitation facility in Alaska.

Training

IBRRC provides training programs available to government and industry personnel and private organizations. Trainings include safety procedures, search and collection, stabilization procedures, and the transportation and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife. Opportunities are available for interested individuals to receive on-scene training at oil spills outside of Alaska.

Response

The AWRC in Anchorage answers the need for a facility ready to receive oiled wildlife within hours of notification of a spill. Designed to care for all species of native Alaskan birds as well as small terrestrial and aquatic mammals, other than sea otters, response time is cut to a minimum. Cleaning facilities, critical care unit, clinical laboratory, cages and pools are in place and ready to go. Drawing on the IBRRC response team, volunteers from Bird TLC and the community, AWRC can be fully staffed with wildlife care professionals within a few hours.

Research & Rehabilitation

IBRRC's research goal is to improve rehabilitation procedures for wildlife primarily through clinical trials and post-release monitoring. In addition, analysis of data from spills, studies in nutrition, husbandry and medical protocols are also evaluated and improved. Our ultimate goal is to minimize the stress and length of the rehabilitation process while assuring that the animals cared for have the best possible chance for survival in the wild.

IBRRC & Bird Treatment and Learning Center (Bird TLC)

Since 1994 these two organizations have joined forces to create a unique relationship that benefits the wildlife and people of Alaska. Bird TLC is a non-profit bird rehabilitation organization based in Anchorage that treats approximately 1,100 wild birds a year. This includes up to 70 bald eagles annually. With limited funds and no facility available large enough to house these birds, the decision was made to allow Bird TLC to utilize the AWRC when it was not being used for oil spills.

The benefits of this cooperative relationship are many. Bird TLC has a place to carry out its valuable work, volunteers provide regular maintenance of the AWRC and an unlimited source of experienced volunteers are available to aid IBRRC in an oil spill. Bird TLC volunteers provided half of the work force during the 1996 Pribilof Island spill that resulted in the release of 127 king eiders and other species.

Location:

Alaska Wildlife Response Center
6132 Nielson Way
Anchorage, Alaska 99518

(907) 562-1329


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