Joint Information Center, 985-902-5231, or 985-902-5240
USFWS in Atlanta, GA: Stacy Shelton, 404-679-7290 (office), 678-575-7796 (cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is taking action to support the joint response to the Mississippi Canyon 252 oil spill with experienced specialists, land managers, and support personnel.
Booms to capture and deflect anticipated oil are being deployed at Breton National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), where thousands of brown pelicans and shorebirds are currently nesting. The Service also is initiating Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration activities in this incident to assess and address the long-term damage to impacted resources.
Service employees from national wildlife refuges, environmental contaminants, and a Service aircraft have been part of the response effort from the beginning and will continue to work with federal, state and local counterparts and conservation organizations, the U.S. Coast Guard and all other contributors in this response effort. The Coast Guard has the lead overall for this response effort.
As the encroachment of oil into coastal zones appears imminent, primary concerns include potential impacts to 20 coastal National Wildlife Refuges within the possible trajectory of the spill. In addition, this is the avian nesting season and sea turtle nesting season is approaching. Gulf sturgeon are congregating in coastal waters for upstream migration and manatees are migrating back into summer areas more widespread than winter gathering spots in warm springs. All of these resources could be affected by the spill.
Among the steps being taken:
· To help reduce the potential impacts to wildlife, especially sea birds, shorebirds, and other wildlife, the Service is advising the Incident Command on methods and procedures to mitigate the damage from the oil on wildlife. It also conducts, coordinates, and supervises search and capture for oiled wildlife.
· The Service is conducting aerial flights to identify any oiled wildlife and help facilitate recovery and treatment by the Responsible Party. British Petroleum has contracted for bird and wildlife rehabilitation experts from around the country to treat oiled wildlife.
· A toll free number has been established to report oiled or injured wildlife. To report affected wildlife, call 866-557-1401. Individuals are urged not to attempt to help injured or oiled animals, but to report any sightings to the toll free number.
· The Service’s national wildlife refuges along the coast are on alert and assessing potential threats, submitting priority areas for protection, and conducting planning in anticipation of oil landfall. At this point, Breton National Wildlife Refuge appears to be most endangered by the oil slick. Booms to catch and deflect oil are being placed now.
· Staffing will be increasing to support response operations. A southeast regional response team is being organized now in the Service’s Atlanta Regional Office to help coordinate the response.
There are many factors which make predictions on timing and degree of impact difficult, including tidal patterns, wind, weather, and the unknown impact of the spill recovery actions.
The Service greatly regrets the loss of life from the explosion and fire that triggered this release, and our thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones in this incident.
Volunteers to help protect wildlife from the oil spill may sign up by calling 1-866-448-5816.
For people who need to file claims regarding the spill, call 1-800-440-0858.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. Please visit the Service’s websites at http://www.fws.gov/