As the number of
oiled seabirds found on Northern California beaches since
Nov. 24 tops 1,000, the regional rescue center is asking again
for volunteer help.
"This is a very persistent spill. We continue
to receive oiled birds daily from beaches between Bodega Bay
and Monterey," said Michael Ziccardi, one of four University
of California, Davis wildlife veterinarians who manage animal
care for the California Oiled Wildlife Care Network. "Before
the holidays, we had a terrific response to our call for volunteers,
but now we have only one-fifth the number that we need,"
This extended emergency, named the San Mateo
Mystery Spill because its source has not yet been identified,
has been the first crisis to use the new San Francisco Bay
Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center. Located in Cordelia,
the 12,000- square-foot, $2.7 million facility was completed
in February. It is one of nine regional centers in the statewide
Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).
As of this morning, a total of 1,005 birds, mostly
common murres, had been recovered. Of those, 577 were found
dead. Of the 428 that reached the rescue center alive, 131
died while in care, 97 had to be euthanized, 92 have been
rehabilitated and released, and 108 are in various stages
of recovery at the center.
That 47 percent survival rate means the new center
is a success, Ziccardi said. "Unlike any previous spill
in the Bay Area, we now have a facility in place, designed
specifically to care for up to 1,000 oiled birds, with trained
staff immediately available on-site. From the first day, birds
have received care as soon as they were found, instead of
having to wait, sick and cold, while we put together a rescue
When a bird arrives at the center, it is evaluated,
treated, washed and rehabilitated by the professional staff
of International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), one
of 24 participant organizations in the Oiled Wildlife Care
Network. Volunteers help throughout the process.
IBRRC director Jay Holcomb said this spill is
particularly frustrating because it is ongoing and because
it is affecting common murres, whose numbers have been reduced
by other spills over the years. "Unlike nature, which
tends to take the weak, oil spills do not discriminate,"
he said. "All birds are affected, including the breeding
adults that are needed to keep the population at a healthy
Anyone wishing to volunteer should call the center
at 707-207-0380, extension 107. Needed are volunteers age
18 or older who can work four-hour shifts helping the IBRRC
staff prepare bird food, clean pools and wash soiled towels.
Shifts run from 8 a.m. to noon, noon to 4 p.m., and 4 p.m.
to 8 p.m. No previous experience or training is needed for
those volunteer positions.
Volunteers who would like to serve in other positions
that require handling the oiled birds must complete one four-hour
training class. Two classes will be offered next week: Friday,
Jan. 11, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, Jan. 12, 9 a.m. to
The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is managed statewide
by the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, a unit of the UC Davis
School of Veterinary Medicine. The network is funded by the
Office of Spill Prevention and Response of the California
Department of Fish and Game. The Fish and Game monies come
from interest on the $50 million California Oil Spill Response
Trust Fund, built from assessments on the oil industry.
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