Cleaning Oil Drenched Pelicans are a Waste of Time
Date: May 5th , 2017
Cleaning Oil Drenched Pelicans are a Waste of Time!
The latest of a series of Petrotrin’s oils spills occurred on Sunday 23rd April when Tank 70 on Petrotrin’s Tank farm ruptured at its base and spilt over 300 barrels of fuel oil into the Guaracara River.
As mandated in the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP), once the cleanup operations are completed, restoration of the affected areas may take place and the degree of restorations is determined by the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries and the Environmental Management Authority.
There have been dozens of oiled pelicans and cormorants being rescued from the south west oil contaminated areas and rehabilitated by designated rehabilitations centers such as the Wildlife Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre (WORC).
Yesterday ( 4th may) 12 pelicans were released into the North Coast ( free from oil spill) after having been at the WORC for a week, where they have been treated and oil removed from their feathers and beaks. However, the for rehabilitation to be deemed successful, these released animals must be able to truly function as wild animals. This includes being able to recognize and obtain the appropriate foods, select mates of their own species and reproduce, and show the appropriate fear of potential dangers. Have there been any programmes developed or implemented by Petrotrin or the EMA or the line Ministry to monitor the survival of these birds?
Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) acknowledges the effort the staff and volunteers at the rehabilitation centers to rescue these birds. However rehabilitation does not end, just by recuing the birds and releasing them back in the wild. What’s the point in rehabilitating these birds if their probability of survival is low?
Silvia Gaus, a German biologist at the Wattenmeer National, recommended a “Kill, don’t clean,” action for the oil-soaked birds in the Gulf of Mexico due to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Blowout. She further stated that “for the birds’ sake, it would be faster and less painful if animal-rescue workers put them under, as the massive efforts to clean these oil-soaked birds won’t do much to stop a near certain and painful death for the creatures”. There is only short-term success in cleaning the birds and releasing them back into the wild, few, if any, have a chance of surviving. “According to serious studies, the middle-term survival rate of oil-soaked birds is under 1 percent,” “We, therefore, oppose cleaning birds.” Gaus stated. Her statements were backed up by professional in the field and experts.
The catching, handling and cleaning of the oil soaked often lead to stressing the animals at fatal levels. At some rehabilitation centers, these birds are
Catching and cleaning oil-soaked birds oftentimes leads to fatal amounts of stress for the animals, Gaus says. Furthermore, forcing the birds to ingest coal solutions — or Pepto Bismol, as animal-rescue workers are doing along the Gulf Coast — in an attempt to prevent the poisonous effects of the oil is ineffective, Gaus says. The birds will eventually perish anyway from kidney and liver damage.
FFOS is not calling for these rehabilitated birds to be euthanized, but questions whether just cleaning and releasing the birds back in the wild is best for the welfare of the animal.