One of the four cornerstones (or as we say, one of our four “R”s) that makes up the OWCN is research. The OWCN is continually searching for better and more effective ways of doing our business – always pushing the envelope to better provide “Best Achievable Care” to oiled wildlife. This thirst for knowledge is led through a number of ways – clinical research led by OWCN staff and collaborators, projects conducted during spills to evaluate newer techniques and methods, and – the most encompassing means – by funding competively-proposed projects led by collaborators during non-spill periods.
Starting in 1996-1997, when the management of the OWCN officially moved from the Dept. of Fish and Game to UC Davis, this Competitive Grants program has funded more than 100 proposals totaling more than $2.5 million. These projects have ranged over a wide group of species and areas of study – from fish to otters, from development of tests for detecting oil exposure to examining the embryonic development of salmon smolts, from better understanding how telemetry devices might impact seabird behavior to where seabird roosting sites are in the environment prior to spill responses. Overall, the mission of these funded projects fall into four broad categories:
- Projects to Improve Animal Care;
- Projects to Assess Wildlife Health;
- Projects to Determine Wildlife Population Information that Aids in Caring for Oiled Wildlife; and
- Projects to Develop New Technology for Oiled Wildlife Care.
To support this activity, the OWCN recently released its annual Request For Proposals, asking interested researchers to submit either pre-proposals (for projects where the costs exceed $10,000) or, for smaller pilot studies, small two-page proposals. Up to $250,000 is available for this funding cycle, and projects may receive up to three years of funding with evidence of adequate progress. In particular, we encourage people and organizations that regularly receive and care for wildlife to apply, as these “front-line” folks can help us investigate and test new and innovative ways of approaching wildlife in distress. Full instructions, details on submitting ideas, information on previous awardees, and a calendar of key deadlines may be found on the OWCN’s Research web page.
We are extremely proud of the progress and knowledge that these projects have made in the field of wildlife care and ecology, but we are continually looking for collaborators to assist us in furthering this mission. Please help us continue to push the boundaries of our knowledge and techniques for oiled wildlife care. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at mhziccardi(at)ucdavis.edu.
-Mike Ziccardi, Director