Too Close for Comfort at SBWCN

Each year in California we anxiously await the ‘Fire Season’, knowing that a small spark amongst the dry landscape could result in thousands of acres of destruction.  And I have noticed that as a first responder for oiled wildlife in this great state, I have gained an even deeper level of compassion and appreciation for those brave firefighters rushing into the burning chaos in an effort to save all that they can.

So as I sat on the couch last Friday evening, a news story caught my eye as the Holiday Fire erupted in the Goleta hills (just North of Santa Barbara).  While every wildfire deserves my attention, this one stood out mainly because a few months prior I had delivered an oiled grebe to The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network in the Goleta hills (my first time at this facility), and while I couldn’t recall the exact address, the map shown on the TV screen felt familiar.  After a quick Google search reminder of SBWCN’s location and a glance at the Cal Fire wildfire map, I confirmed that this fire was VERY close to them.  As a helpless bystander some 400 miles away, I spent the night glued to the usual social media options to see if a Facebook post or a Tweet would share good news that all was well. Luckily, the overall result is a facility still standing, and hundreds of patients transported to and being cared for at a temporary site located at the Santa Barbara Humane Society (plus transport of seabirds down to International Bird Rescue in San Pedro).

Grateful to be able to share the relatively happy ending for SBWCN, but acutely aware that the harrowing weekend was quite a stressful ordeal for volunteers, staff and patients alike (and very painful for those poor neighbors who lost their homes entirely).

If you would like more info on the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network and to keep up with their ongoing efforts, please check out their website.

Holiday Fire at Wildlife Center from SB Wildlife Care Network on Vimeo.



Keeping Your Hands in the Game

As we update trainings and prepare for lectures, we often find ourselves digging through our photo archives for that perfect photo. Sometimes we find it. Perfect technique, good lighting, volunteers with determined looks upon their faces. We grab the photo and then we notice: no one is wearing gloves. I admit I’ve photoshopped gloves onto hands after the fact. While this might fix the picture, it doesn’t fix the underlying problem.

no gloves

With all the photos I’ve looked through, I keep seeing people I know handling animals gloveless. Those people still have their hands and haven’t died of any weird zoonotic disease. So, what’s the deal with gloves anyway? Do we really need them? Does Mike Ziccardi just own stock in a nitrile glove company? The answer to that last one is probably yes. But if he does, it’s for a good reason. Your chances of getting a zoonotic disease are pretty low. But they are real. Add to that the cuts and abrasions common in our work, your chances are increased even further.

noglove WP checkConsider the fact that you can also impact the animals. Working without gloves increases the possibility of spreading germs you carry to animals or spreading pathogens between animals. Lotions, sunscreens, insect repellants, and even the natural oils on your hands can cause waterproofing problems for birds. These products are even more of a concern for inland species, as they can be toxic to some reptiles and amphibians – killing the animals we are trying to protect. So, for your own sake, and those of the animals you work with where the proper PPE – including gloves!


Meet the New OWCN Team Members!

Hi! We are Danene and Lorraine, and we joined the OWCN just as the Davis summer heat set in. Amidst the 100°F weather, we have spent our initial days integrating into the OWCN team. During our first few weeks, we have familiarized ourselves with university policies and OWCN protocols, and have been introduced to all of the amazing resources that the OWCN has to offer during a spill. We’ve only been the victims of one office prank so far, and are excited to see what the next few months have to offer.

But first, here’s a little background about us:

Version 2Lorraine joined the OWCN in May as Facility Veterinarian. She first entered the wildlife field as a research assistant at the Long Marine Lab while completing a bachelor’s degree in marine biology at UC Santa Cruz. She then obtained her veterinary degree and a Master’s of Preventive Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. Following a small animal internship at PetCare and then a marine mammal medicine and pathology internship at The Marine Mammal Center, Lorraine has spent her time working with both small animals and wildlife. As a veterinarian at California Wildlife Center, she provided clinical, surgical, and rehabilitative care for a variety of avian, terrestrial, and marine mammal species. In addition to clinical work, Lorraine has also enjoyed collaborating on several marine mammal field research projects in Central and South America. In 2017, she became certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

IMG_0641Danene joined the OWCN in June as Readiness Coordinator. She earned her B.S. in Biology and Marine Sciences from Rutgers University as well as an A.S. in Veterinary Technology, and is a Licensed Veterinary Technician. She has over 15 years of oil spill experience, including the M/V Treasure in South Africa, the San Mateo Mystery Spill/Luckenbach, the T/V Athos 1, the Texas City “Y” response, and the Wolfsnare Creek Incident. In addition, Danene spent seven months on the Deepwater Horizon Incident where she held multiple spill response exercises, training workshops, and response plans. Danene has also held positions as a wildlife rehabilitator, veterinary technician, and as a department head at a college of Veterinary Technicians. Most recently, Danene was the Oil Programs Director at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc where she was responsible for the direction of the program and ensuring its readiness to response to incidents in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. In her free time, Danene enjoys spontaneous world travel, sharing her knowledge of yoga and martial arts, and spending time outdoors with her family.

We are so excited to join this amazing team and look forward to meeting all of our new colleagues (that’s you!). We hope to see you at the upcoming OWCN trainings, the Planning Summit, or as we make our way around California.

-Danene and Lorraine

Oiled Wildlife Specialist Training coming to Southern California in August


OWCN Training Program

As you may have heard, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) launched a revised training program a couple years ago. Since then, we have been working hard to develop the program, delivering updated core webinars (online), our 1 day Basic Responder Training (classroom), and recently delivered our first 2 day Oiled Wildlife Specialist Training (classroom) back in April in Cordelia. Now we are gearing up for our 2nd OWS training to be held at our Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center (LAOBCEC) in San Pedro on Tuesday, August 28th and Wednesday, August 29th.

OWS training Cordelia Apr 2018 Jean Yim photographer entire group in wash tent

Group tour of Cleaning & Conditioning area

The Oiled Wildlife Specialist training is a two day in-person workshop for individuals with moderate to advanced experience working with the species cared for by their Member Organization. It is intended to give participants a deeper understanding of spill response operations, broaden the applicability of responders’ existing skills and increase consistency between responders. For further information regarding future Oiled Wildlife Specialist training opportunities, please refer to the “Opportunities” section of your OWCN Responder Profile or upon logging into your responder profile, scroll down to the News section to learn more about OWS and its prerequisites.

Interested responders can sign up for one of five specialization areas:

  • Recovery & Hazing Specialist: Field Operations
  • Field Stabilization Specialist
  • Intake & Processing Specialist
  • Pre-Wash Care Specialist
  • Cleaning & Conditioning Specialist
OWS training Cordelia Apr 2018 Jean Yim photographer FS team photo

Field Stabilization Specialists!

Our first OWS was well-attended with 27 representatives from ten different Member Organizations, and we are hoping to see a similar turnout down south.  If you have any questions regarding pre-requisites or how to apply, please don’t hesitate to email us at We look forward to seeing many of you there!


Join the OWCN Team Today!

Do you love working with people who love working with animals? Do you enjoy sharing terrific conservation and wildlife stories with the public? Do you thrive on bring order out of chaos? If so, you have exactly the skills we need to on our team and uphold the OWCN’s mission of providing the best achievable capture and care of oil-affected wildlife during oil spill events in California.

Under the direction of the Readiness Coordinator, the Wildlife Responder Specialist provides the vision and oversight for the OWCN’s volunteer program, serves in a leadership role in areas of public outreach (internet/printed publications, K-12 education program, and public service activities), and works with the OWCN Management Team to coordinate the training and tracking of all OWCN spill responders (staff and volunteers). During oil spills in California, this position will serve as the Volunteer Coordinator and/or Staffing Coordinator.

For more details please visit the UC Davis employment website and search the job requisition number 03021713 or click here. For a more user-friendly version of the job description, please click here.

Final filing dates for this position is 27 June 2018, so check it out today!

Seeing Eye-to-Eye With Our Patients

Many heartfelt thanks to Dr. David Maggs, ophthalmologist at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine for his help in working with Dorothy Rizzo from Welch Allyn to donate an ophthalmoscope set to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN).

This is such a valuable donation because many of our patients experience eye damage secondary to exposure to petroleum and its fumes. The donated scopes are an improvement over the older equipment we had and will improve our ability to document the progression of lesions. Our patients will really benefit from earlier detection and thus treatment of problems. The new equipment will also allow us to better compare the efficacy of alternative treatment options and update protocols earlier in the course of a spill. Thus, potentially saving the sight of dozens to hundreds more seabirds, seals, small mammals and turtles, allowing them to be released back to the wild.

Here’s a few photos of the new equipment in use at two of the OWCN’s Member Organizations: International Bird Rescue (IBR) and The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC).


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Brown Pelican Alive and Well, 3 Years After the Refugio Oil Spill!

We just received some great news!  One of the Brown Pelicans that was oiled, cleaned, rehabilitated and released after the Santa Barbara Refugio Oil Spill in 2015 was seen in late May in Gray’s Harbor, Washington!  Deborah Jaques (Pacific Eco Logic, Astoria, OR) saw this bird on May 26, 2018 (exactly 3 years since she was captured!) while doing pelican surveys in Washington.  At the time of the Refugio Spill, this bird was a female second year.


Z16, 3 years after the Refugio Oil Spill! (Photo Credit: Deborah Jaques)

Z16, as she is affectionately known (based on her permanent green band with white lettering), was captured in the Channel Islands Harbor on May 26, 2015.  She then spent almost 3 weeks at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center, where she was cared for by Oiled Wildlife Care Network response staff and volunteers.  She was released at White Point Park, near Long Beach on June 16, 2015 in and was seen once before on the Columbia River.

We are so excited to get news that she is alive and well, and doing exactly what you would expect a pelican would do – in this case, standing on a pier piling looking pretty.  So if you see any pelicans with green bands out there, PLEASE let us know, as these were pelicans that were cared for after the Refugio Spill, and knowing which birds are still out there is crucial information for expanding our understanding of how these birds do after being impacted by an oil spill.