It’s me again, Greg Massey, your substitute blogger giving Mike the night off.
I’ve got a couple of new things to report. Since my last message we received an oiled Northern Gannet at the Mississippi center. If you’ve never seen a gannet up close and personal, I strongly encourage you to search for a picture on the Web. They are incredibly beautiful birds with very bad attitudes. After a couple of days of care (mostly feeding and rehydration), the gannet was cleaned on Monday. He was quite a handful for the folks who did the washing.
We’re continuing to create our facility. There’s lots of activity building cages, working on the cleaning room, etc. Luckily the gannet is currently the only live bird in-house. If we had more, things would really be crazy. I write a report every evening to send up the chain of command to let everyone know what we’ve been up to that day. Under facility status I keep writing something like, “Stabilization capacity progressing towards fully operational status” (I know, it’s a mouthful). I bring this up because even though my wife is having a blast building this facility, it reminds me of how long it takes to create something functional from scratch.
In OWCN orientation lectures, we often talk about factors that affect survival of oiled wildlife. There are lots of things, like weather, whether it’s breeding season or not, what type of product is spilled, etc. These are all beyond our control. But we can do things to improve the chances of success. One of these is having pre-existing facilities designed to meet the specialized needs of oiled wildlife response. This seems logical, but most people don’t want to put money into facilities and equipment they hope will never be used – whether it’s for animals or people. It makes sense, but this is what we do whenever we build or buy anything for emergency response. The ultimate question is whether you think the expense is worth it. It really boils down to a cost/benefit analysis.
Now I’m not trying to lobby for everyone to go out and build oiled wildlife facilities. I’m just suggesting it’s something to consider. Construction during an emergency carries a number of inflated costs and not all of them are strictly monetary. Time required to select and build facilities creates a deficit in initial quality of care. This deficit must be balanced against the expense of purchasing equipment and building facilities when there’s no spiller to pay the bills. Even so, there are creative ways to overcome the initial capital outlay required. California’s model is only one example. I’m sure all you creative people out there can think of more. Just some food for thought as this oiled wildlife response begins to unfold.