As long as we are dependent on oil to produce energy for our homes, gas for our cars and products such as plastics, accidents will continue happen that cause birds and other wildlife to also encounter this oil. Without expert care most oiled wildlife, especially birds do not survive an oil spill. Several nonprofit organizations, staffed with experts on caring for oiled wildlife, are often the primary responders to these oil spills. However, it takes funds to care for the oiled animals, which comes in part from public donations. It doesn’t take much for anyone to help animals affected by oil spills.
International Bird Rescue
Based in California, International Bird Rescue, formally named the International Bird Rescue Research Center has been leading the way in oil spill response and care of oiled animals since 1971. The founder, Alice Berkner was spurred to act during a massive spill in San Francisco in 1971. This was at a time when little was known about water bird care and many mistakes were made. Since then, International Bird Rescue has developed science-based techniques used around the world in caring for oiled birds. Staff and volunteers have also traveled throughout the United States and the world to assist and lead efforts in the capture, care and release of oiled wildlife. Most notable was their response to the Treasure oil spill in South Africa that saved 20,000 oiled penguins.
Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research
Tri-State Bird Rescue also got its start in the 1970s with an unfortunate oil spill in the Delaware River. Many wildlife professionals, from biologists to veterinarians, collaborated to establish this center in Delaware to improve oiled wildlife care. Often collaborating with IBRRC, Tri-State also responds to spills across the U.S. and the world. Tri-State was called on to lead the response for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Tri-State was also an integral part of response efforts during the South Africa Treasure spill.
The Marine Mammal Center
The Marine Mammal Center, located along the coast of Northern California, is staffed by veterinarians, biologists and rehabilitation specialists who rescue and care for marine mammals. Their research and experience has allowed them to care for thousands of sea lions, seals and even humpback whales successfully. In addition to their efforts everyday saving marine mammals, the center cares for oiled mammals throughout California and stands ready to assist in caring for birds and mammals around the world in the event of an oil spill.
Even when a spill has a known cause, and a company that will pay fines to cover the costs of the clean up, the animal welfare responders still need help. The costs associated with a spill may not be recovered until long after the spill is over. To keep responders and equipment ready, and the animals in the best of health during a spill, these organizations still rely greatly on private donations and oil spill trained volunteers. Time and distance may prevent you from volunteering to help oil spill affected animals, but you can always send a donation.