With Gratitude…


As we approach Thanksgiving we wanted to express our gratitude for the incredible network of organizations and greater than 1,200 responders that support the mission of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. We are grateful for your continued dedication to ensuring we remain in a constant state of readiness.

FDD SD 2018 Group Photo

Sending you our best wishes for a memorable holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

~The Oiled Wildlife Care Network Management Team





Throughout much of the state air quality is poor, and many people are suffering the effects of living and working in the smoke from the wildfires. Many of you are working outdoors rescuing or caring for wildlife at rehabilitation centers, or assisting with animals impacted directly by the fires. OSPR’s industrial hygienist, Jeff Westervelt, compiled some information on the effects of smoke and what we can do to protect ourselves while living and working in areas impacted by smoke from the wildfires. We wanted to share that with all of you. Thank you for all the work that you do. Be safe.

image001 (1)

Satellite view of the Camp Fire smoke plume

From Jeff:

Much like crude oil, smoke is a complex mixture of compounds that can number in the thousands. However, the particulate matter from wildfire smoke is the greatest concern for us members of the general public.  Particulate matter is a generic term for particles suspended in the air, and they can be a mixture of both solid particles and liquid. Also, the size of the particles affects their potential health hazard. Particles larger than 10 micrometers do not usually reach the lungs, but can still irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. (For purposes of comparison, a human hair is about 60 to 75 micrometers in diameter.)  Smaller particles however, also known as PM2.5, can be inhaled deep into our lungs, and typically represent a greater health concern than larger particles.

It’s especially important for you to pay attention to local air quality reports during a period of heavy smoke if you are:

  • a person with heart or lung disease, emphysema or asthma.
  • an older adult.
  • caring for children, including teenagers, because their respiratory systems are still developing, they breathe more air (and air pollution) per pound of body weight than adults, they’re more likely to be active outdoors.
  • a person with diabetes, because you are more likely to have underlying cardiovascular disease.
  • a pregnant woman, because there could be potential health effects for both you and the developing fetus.

It’s important to do what you can to limit your exposure to smoke, especially if you are at increased risk for particle-related effects.  Paper “dust” masks or surgical masks will not protect your lungs from the fine particles in wildfire smoke.  Scarves or bandanas (wet or dry) won’t help either.  Particulate respirators, such as N-95, R-95 or P-100 respirators will help, but they must fit well and be used correctly. The PM2.5 particles can get through the gaps the hair creates between the respirator and your face, so those of you with facial hair will not be able to achieve the seal these respirators need to offer protection.

Try to keep particle levels inside your home lower too. When smoke is heavy for a prolonged period of time, fine particles can build up indoors even though you may not be able to see them. Try to avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces and candles.  Even vacuuming can stir up particles already inside your home.

So, now you’re thinking, what’s the hazard from the smoke right now, and what can I do to protect myself, right?  To help answer these questions, I have some resources for you.

This first link is to the California Smoke Blog.  It has a ton of information on smoke, current air quality, health effects, and protective measures.  On the right side banner of the home screen you’ll also find links to get air quality information for locations throughout California.  To better understand what the air quality numbers found there mean, and what protective actions you should take, I’ve attached an air quality activity guide to this email.  (One thing I’d also like to point out is some people have been looking at numbers from the purple air site.  The purple air monitors are available for “home enthusiasts”, and don’t necessarily have the kind of accuracy obtained and provided by Sac Metro AQMD, US EPA, the Air Resources Board, etc.  So, stick with the profession numbers folks.)

Anyway, here’s the link:


This next link is to the US EPA air quality site, Airnow:   https://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.main

The third link I have for you is to the CDC wildfire smoke page:


Drills, Drills and More Drills!

You may not know that in addition to the annual OWCN Full Deployment Drill, that OWCN staff attend several in person industry sponsored drills per year. On top of that, on average, we facilitate 1-2 drills per week by phone. During the spring and fall drill “seasons”, this number can increase to 4-5 per week. It definitely keeps us busy!

It also keeps us on our toes, especially now that at least half of the drills occur at inland sites. It’s always interesting to work with the Responsible Party’s representative on the other end of the phone. While some are old hats, many have never had to call the OWCN Hotline before. It’s so gratifying to introduce these folks to the OWCN and then collaboratively formulate a plan to address the current drill scenario.

As you will see in the example provided below of the form that we fill out for drills, we not only collect detailed information, we also dive into the exercise of deploying the resources needed to respond to each drill’s unique situation. These types of drills are a wonderful learning opportunity for all involved and, just as they are designed to be, they test the OWCN’s readiness to respond to the wide diversity of wildlife that is at risk of oiling in the very large state of California.


Example OWCN drill form page 1

Example OWCN drill form page 2

Communicators train, too

OWCN staff photo taken in Seaworld

Eunah (that’s me!), Mike, Lavonne and Pam at a Full Deployment Drill in San Diego

As one of the Public Information Officers (PIOs) for OWCN, I usually remain at our home base in Davis while our readiness team leads training sessions throughout California, and acts as first responders to spill reports.

I’ve traveled for full deployment spill drills and Oilapalooza, but for the most part, my role is to stay at my desk, monitoring and sharing news on social media. Two weeks ago, however, my fellow OWCN PIO Kristin Burns and I had the chance to go out “in the field” (anywhere other than Davis for us!). Along with OWCN Director Mike Ziccardi, we  met with our PIO counterparts at the CDFW OSPR offices in Sacramento, Steve Gonzalez and Eric Laughlin, as well as Greg McGowan, program manager for response technology, and Holly Gellerman, wildlife branch director.

Our agenda for the meeting: discuss and plan communications strategies for future spills. Similar to our wildlife-handling colleagues on the OWCN and OSPR teams, the PIOs must be prepared at all times to respond quickly and effectively in the event of an oil spill.

While handlers are primarily responding to wildlife, the PIOs are responding to—or at least interacting with—the media and the general public. As you might imagine, there is a lot of interest from both groups in the event of an oil spill, and a lot of questions about the animals affected. With a lot of moving parts in a response, there can also be the potential for misinformation. At this meeting we discussed a workflow that would help guide future joint communications, allowing us to present timely, accurate official information to our audiences.

It was a great experience meeting face-to-face with our partners in oiled wildlife response. I look forward to future discussions on communications response.


Summit Success!

Our 2018 Oiled Wildlife Planning Summit took place last Friday, October 19th and was a definite success thanks to the amazing energy and collaborative brainpower of 60 folks representing over 75% of our Member Organizations.

Network members logged over 8,000 miles of collective travel to gather in Davis and put their heads together to improve some key areas of our operations, with the main focus landing on the following Network identified discussion topics:

  • Cross Training, Responder Exchange & Mutual Aid
  • Training Program Development
  • Evidence Collection and Handling Training
  • Mentorship Research Program
  • Inland Species Taxa Specialists

The individual group discussions were productive, and will serve as the catalyst for each working group as they add additional interested members from the Network, and meet via conference call or zoom in the following months to develop some tangible work products.

We look forward to hearing all about those ingenious solutions when these working groups present their reports at Oilapalooza 2019!

If you are a responder within our Network and have great interest in advancing one of the topics listed above, email us at owcn@ucdavis.edu and we can connect you to the working group.


Two OWCN Positions Open Now!!

With the sad departure of Steph to Oregon and the shifting of Scott to Responder Specialist, the OWCN has TWO new openings available immediately for enthusiastic folks who want to join our team!

Under the direction of the appropriate Deputy Directors, we are recruiting for both a Wildlife Care Specialist and a Wildlife Field Specialist. Each position will provide specialized leadership and support in either the area of oiled wildlife care or field activities and, as parts of the OWCN response team, will serve, in concert with the Deputy Directors, as the lead oiled wildlife rehabilitation or field expert for the OWCN during and between spills.

During non-spill periods, each Specialist will ensure oil spill readiness by acting as an expert in wildlife care/field activities and protocols, improving readiness by maintaining equipment and supplies necessary for operations, and helping to organize and lead wildlife trainings and informational workshops for staff and volunteers throughout California.  As part of the team, these positions will also participate in public outreach activities as well as assist in research to ensure the OWCN meets its mandate of best achievable capture and care of oiled wildlife.

For more details and to apply, please visit the UC Davis employment website and search the job requisition number 03022639 (Field) or 03022635 (Care). or click here for Field Ops and here for Care Ops.

For more user-friendly versions of each job description (including information on specific responsibilities), please click here for the Field Ops Specialist position, and here for the Care Ops Specialist.

Final filing dates for this position is 1 November 2018, so check them out today!
Come join the Team!

Meeting Member Orgs!

As I drive back up the coast, catching quick glimpses of the beautiful Monterey Bay, I feel extremely appreciative of the opportunities I’ve had during the past two weeks. Not only have I gotten to work with a collection of cool species, but I have also met and worked with an assortment of amazing people.

Last week, I had the great pleasure of spending some time at our nearest member organization, International Bird Rescue, at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center (SFBOWCEC). There, I met several staff members and volunteers, and got to put my bird handling skills to use. I assisted with exams on pelicans, murres, gulls, and a great blue heron, among others, as well as helped with feeds and learned the general flow of the hospital. It was wonderful to work with and get to know such a talented and dedicated group of people.

This week, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA), I had the good fortune of working with MBA veterinary staff and volunteers, along with a variety of veterinarians, technicians, researchers, staff, and volunteers from other institutions, including The Marine Mammal Center, US Fish and Wildlife, the Seattle Aquarium, and Long Beach Aquarium. We all came to learn sea otter restraint, anesthesia, and sampling techniques. It was incredible to learn from experts in the field and to work with so many organizations in the process.

The collaboration and generosity demonstrated by these institutions is truly inspiring and at the same time absolutely essential to helping these species that we all care so much about. And this is exactly what the Oiled Wildlife Care Network is all about- sharing knowledge among members and working together to improve our ability to care for animals both before and during spills!



Performing an ultrasound examination of a rehabilitating sea otter to check for pregnancy (especially intriguing for me as I am 8.5 months pregnant myself!)