Happy students, happy ducks

This weekend the Wildlife and Aquatic Animal Medicine Club at UC Davis Veterinary School participated in a hands-on lab to practice avian physical exam skills. I’m always impressed at how willing students are to give up their precious free time (read: study time!) to take part in yet another learning experience.

The students, representing first, second, and third year classes, endured an hour of powerpoint lecture from yours truly before they got to the good stuff. With the cooperation of some lovely, personable pet ducks, the students practiced performing a physical exam on a bird, collecting a blood sample, giving subcutaneous injections, and gavaging a nice drink of water.

Stephanie was there too, teaching the students handling skills and providing plenty of tips and tricks to working with birds. The students all seemed to have a great time, and hopefully they learned a lot. As always, UC Davis students are enthusiastic about learning and compassionate and caring towards their “patients.” Birds of the world can relax; the next generation of avian veterinarians is working its way towards excellence!


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Earth Day 2015

It’s always encouraging to know that preserving the earth and wildness is important to many people all across the globe Here’s a few articles from the Internet that I hope you will find inspiring:



Must-See Planet Pics: Earth Day 2015 Edition











To see all the moving pictures of earth click on the following link:


Happy Earth Day!







National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week is coming to a close.  All of us here at OWCN want to thank all our volunteers again for being part of the network.  You are all fantastic, hard working people.  Here’s a summary of everyone we profiled this week – it’s a long post, but well worth the read, especially for their thoughts on volunteering.  And yes, I know I said that I would only use your responder profile photos for good (aka spill security badges), and instead I’m using them for evil (aka blog photos), but I really wanted everyone to see the faces of some of the greatest volunteers out there!

Kim Peterson from SeaWorld

Kim Peterson from SeaWorld

Kim Peterson, who volunteers at SeaWorld in San Diego, has worked with animals for 40 years, and her favorite (if she has to choose!) is a flamingo. Kim worked during Cosco Busan and recalls, “There were so many amazing things going on, the organized chaos, the heat, the smell, the fatigue and the sense that despite all of that everyone was of like mind and eager to do what needed to be done. There were some pretty amazing volunteers, no experience just there to help, and they came back every day to do laundry, wash dishes and scrub floors. No glamor, just hard work, and they kept coming back. I went to visit a year later and was so happy to see that some of those same people had stayed on to volunteer regularly at IBR. It made me very happy”.

Susan McCarthy from International Bird Rescue

Susan McCarthy works out of the San Francisco Bay facility and has been with IBR since the beginning! She was volunteering at age 15 for the Oregon Standard-Arizona Standard spill in the San Francisco Bay. She says, “I found myself in a basement under the lion house washing scoters, grebes, and loons. The lions were upset and they kept roaring…”  She has volunteered at many spills and events since then, the most recent being the mystery event this last winter. Susan notes, “Every time I witness a spill I’m amazed and thrilled at how much has been learned and how much better we are at it”.  I had the chance to work with Susan up in Arcata a few years back when all the pelicans were coming in contaminated with fish oil. Near or far, Susan is there, working hard to help save animals.

Cindy Serraino from the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Cindy Serraino from the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Cindy Serraino volunteers with the SORAC program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and has worked with animals for 15 years starting as a technician at an animal shelter and training dogs.  Her passion for animals grew into an interest in conservation and she eventually became certified as part of the National Animal Disaster Response Team. Currently Cindy volunteers doing sea otter rehabilitation and release at MBA, and also volunteers with Marine Life Studies, doing research and education on whales in the Monterey Bay.  When asked about volunteering, Cindy says, “The best part about volunteering is knowing that you are making a difference; making an effort, working hard and dedicating your free time to something because it matters, not because there is something in it for you. It’s not about making money or looking good but about feeding your soul and being selfless. I volunteer with SORAC because I want to be part of the efforts that help bring back a species from threats of endangerment, and volunteering with oil spill responses because as a human being, I feel partly responsible for the harm we are doing to the environment and I want to do my part to help make it right.”


Tamar Danufsky of the Marine Wildlife Care Center at Humboldt State University

Tamar Danufsky is the coordinator for the Marine Wildlife Care Center at Humboldt State University.  She has been a wildlife biologist for over 25 years, and has worked with songbirds, seabirds, raptors, beetles, and bears. Tamar recalls her early oil spill experience: “I came to HSU in 1997 for grad school and was only here for 3 months when the Kure oil spill happened. If you asked me before Kure, I would have said that I don’t believe in oiled wildlife rescue. But during the Kure I went down to the edge of Humboldt Bay and saw the sheen of oil on the water and people picking up oiled birds, and I felt this strong sense of the oil spill having happened to me, to my community, my environment (and I’d only been here 3 months). That’s when I realized how important it is for the community to have a place they can go and volunteer to fix the damage to their own backyard. Oiled wildlife rescue needs volunteers, but volunteers have a need to be able to contribute as well.”  You may not know, but if there was a spill in the Humboldt area, Tamar would be the rallying force of the student volunteer population. When asked about student volunteers, she says, “Students are a great volunteer resource: They are enthusiastic for new experiences, they have flexible schedules, and they are happy to skip classes to help out…We couldn’t possibly mount a large spill response on our remote North Coast without this valuable resource.”

Janet Dickey from the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center

Janet Dickey from the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center

Janet Dickey volunteers with the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center.  Janet moved to Crescent City in 2004, after living in San Diego and volunteering with the House Rabbit Society. She was aware of NMMC and started volunteering right away.  Janet says, “I love my paid job (supports my seal habit), but volunteering opens so many more worlds of activities. You can pick what you love to do, and do it”. She thinks the best thing about volunteering is being able to give their clients a second chance in life.  Even as she had to run to get to a feeding shift at NMMC, Janet noted, “I’m always energized being there, even though it is hard work, and at times very sad work. I’ve developed a fondness for birds, and also volunteer for the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center/Bird Ally X, located in Arcata. HWCC/BAX is a super organization, and I feel grateful to work with the wonderful re-habbers there”.

Once again, thank you to all the fantastic volunteers of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network!


Oilapalooza Is A Go!

date-clipart-putthis_on_calendar_clip_art1Save the date!

After weeks/months of exploring different venues, having hotels refuse to get back to us, and more (non-financially induced) potholes in the process than any year to date, Lavonne has pulled a rabbit of the hat and found us a site for Oilapalooza ’15!

EmeryvilleWe will be convening on Saturday October 17 at the Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge (1800 Powell Street, Emeryville, CA) for a day of continuing education, directed discussion, and team-building activities. The following day, focused labs on each of our response streams (recovery, hazing, field stabilization, and care/processing) will take place at soon-to-be announced locations throughout the Greater San Francisco Bay region.

So find your thinking caps, ready your questions on all things oily, and get ready to have some fun while helping us to better prepare for oiled wildlife collection and care in California! We will be getting back to everyone very soon with many more details on what is certain to be a great weekend!

– Mike

Upcoming Trainings

Register for upcoming trainings by logging into your responder profile, and clicking on the “Sign-Up” tab.  Don’t forget to make sure you have completed all prerequisites prior to signing up!

In-Person Workshops:
April 14-16: 24 hour HAZWOPER certification (Elkhorn Slough)
April 16: Wildlife Recovery Level 2 (Fairfield)
June 9: Wildlife Recovery Level 2 (San Pedro)
July 22: Boat Safety and On-Water Capture (Bodega Bay)
August 26: Boat Safety & On-Water Capture (Morro Bay)

May 2015 (Date TBA) New Webinar Release
Facility Support, Marine Mammal Anatomy/Ecology/Biology, Marine Mammal Processing & Intake, Marine Mammal Care

June 8, 2015 New Webinar Release
GPS Use, Volunteer Coordination, Avian First Aid for Recovery

As always, thank you for your participation in our trainings and for being the most prepared group of responders out there!


Wildlife Recovery Training in Chico

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Yesterday Becky, Stephanie, and I traveled to Chico, CA for our first inland Wildlife Recovery training.  The group we were targeting was North Valley Animal Disaster, a group that joined the OWCN very recently (although we had one representative from the USFWS at the training as well). Chico is positioned at the intersection of some major railways, and just to the east of Chico is a designated “high risk area” for crude transport by rail.

It was a fun day and students practiced old skills and learned new skills, including how to use a GPS, a VHF radio,and how to capture and handle birds safely.  The day ended with a review of the skills taught throughout the day with a mock oil spill involving a train derailment in the Feather River canyon. Students were “deployed” in teams to collect oiled wildlife.


The next Wildlife Recovery Level 2 training will be taking place at the San Francisco Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in Fairfield on April 16. If you are interested in this training you will need to be affiliated with an OWCN Member Organization or Affiliated Agency.

In addition, the pre-requisites are:

  • ICS-100 training
  • Current 24-hr HAZWOPER
  • Completion of OWCN Core Webinar series
  • Wildlife Recovery Level 1 webinar

You will also need to be in the new OWCN database. If you have questions about setting up your profile in our new database or accessing the webinars, please email Stephanie Herman (scherman@ucdavis.edu) or Becky Elias (baelias@ucdavis.edu).

Hope to see you at the next training!


The OWCN Wants You!

Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)The Wildlife Health Center is currently recruiting for a senior staff position as a Wildlife Recovery Coordinator. Under the general direction of the Deputy Director – Field Operations of the Wildlife Health Center’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), this position will coordinate wildlife capture activities for the OWCN during oil spill response. During non-spill periods, they will ensure oil spill readiness by leading wildlife recovery training/informational workshops for staff and volunteers throughout California, engage in research activities to ensure ‘best achievable collection and care’ of oiled wildlife, help oversee the use of staff and volunteers in the field, supervise the acquisition and management of supplies necessary for field operations, and assist with teaching and public service activities.

For more information and to apply: Visit the UC Davis Job Posting at http://www.employment.ucdavis.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=70231

Priority Application Date: By March 20, 2015

– Mike