U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Actions at Louisiana Oil Spill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2008
Tom MacKenzie, 678-296-6400, Tom_MacKenzie@fws.gov
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Spill Response Strike Team and Delta National Wildlife Refuge are continuing to respond to the New Orleans DM 932 oil spill by. providing wildlife and contaminants support to the federal, state and private organizations and companies.
About fifty oiled birds have been observed but are still mobile and have escaped capture. One oiled bird, a dove, has been captured and is being treated.
“The challenge with this spill is the complex nature of the terrain, combined with the length of riverbank we have to search - in excess of 200 miles of riverbank from the impact zone downstream to Venice,” said Buddy Goatcher, Contaminants Specialist with the Lafayette Ecological Service Office, and Operations Team Chief for this incident. “We are searching for oiled wildlife to get them to the rehabilitation team set up in Venice.”
About 10 contaminants specialists from the Service are responding, plus four responders at Delta National Wildlife Refuge, which is at the very mouth of the Mississippi River. The team is supporting a significant response effort to mitigate the effects of this spill. They have responded to numerous spills, resulting in increased protection for wildlife and greater protection for the environment. About six boats are also supporting the Delta NWR efforts from Environmental Services, a specialized clean-up company well versed in recovery and response.
The Refuge staff have been working to protect the refuge by placing booms at key locations to try to deflect the oil from entering the refuge. So far, the Delta reports only a light sheen in the area.
Lonesome Dove First Recovered Wildlife
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service recovered a lone dove that had been “oiled” and unable to fly.
The bird was first seen by members of an oil spill response company “OMI” that had been contracted to remove oil downriver from the leaking barge. The crews were deploying oil absorbent barriers along the shore near the French Quarter area of New Orleans when the dove landed along the embankment and came in contact with the thick black tar-like residue that covered the shore.
The bird’s futile attempts to fly attracted a crowd of tourists that had gathered to watch the oil recovery operation. The crew called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Response Team and a biologist was dispatched to the site. The bird was transferred to a wildlife rehabilitation facility operated by Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education, out of Houston, Texas. The rehab trailer is specifically designed to clean wildlife that are victims of oil spills. The dove is currently being evaluated.
About 50 oiled birds, a beaver, and a muskrat have been reported, but none could be captured for treatment. More birds and wildlife are likely be weakened by the effects of oil. They may be easier to capture in that condition, but also may fall prey to predators looking for an easy meal.
The public is urged to avoid wildlife that may be oiled, and call the wildlife hotline at (504)393-0353 with the location, contact name and phone number.
The team will continue to assess the impact of the oil spill and provide advice and support to the command team. The team will also continue to locate and rescue oiled wildlife. Depending on the situation, the team may also conduct hazing to protect wildlife by using loud noise-makers, like propane cannons or hand held noisemakers similar to bottle rockets. This will help deter the birds from being contaminated by the significant oil on the banks scattered along the 100-mile stretch of the Mississippi, from New Orleans to the mouth of the Mississippi.
The oil spill results from an accident involving a ship and barge carrying Number 6 fuel oil (bunker C fuel), which is used by ships and generators to run their motors.
The Hotline to report oiled wildlife is (504) 393-0353.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is directing the installation of 100 propane cannons designed to scare birds away from contaminated marshes and swamps along the Mississippi River. Propane cannons are machines that ignite propane gas to produce loud explosions at timed or random intervals. They will be located in areas of high use by water birds like egrets, herons and ducks, and moved around every few days. The cannons are expected to be set up by qualified contractors, supervised by FWS Contaminants Specialists over the next few days. http://cgvi.uscg.mil/media/main.php?g2_itemId=337038