We Just Want to Help! How Zoological Organizations Can Best Prepare to Assist During Oil Spills
Oiled Wildlife Care Network, Wildlife Health Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
Oil spills are a common occurrence in most developed coastal environments throughout the world. Ecological response to these incidents (in particular, organized recovery and rehabilitation of affected wildlife), however, is a relatively new science. Depending on the region, zoos and aquaria play varying roles during spill responses, ranging from no involvement to leading the management functions necessary to mount a large-scale effort. In many cases, organizations may wish to develop their capacity to assist in such disasters (especially if the species impacted match their collection and/or conservation focus), but have little knowledge of how best to do so. This fact was most recently evidenced during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico, where a large number of AZA and AAZV-associated individuals and organizations wished to assist in the effort, but were not effectively incorporated in the response structure. The Oiled Wildlife Care Network, a program based at UC Davis, is committed to helping key zoological and wildlife veterinary organizations identify how they might assist in future spills both locally as well as nationally and internationally. This presentation will help define the actions necessary for developing facility and personnel readiness, thereby allowing groups to integrate into responses and perhaps even to provide leadership during spill response. Various aspects of readiness including facility design, equipment/supply caches, elements to an effective training program, and the means to integrate within local contingency planning efforts will be presented.