Happy New Year!

The OWCN team hopes everyone had a safe and healthy holiday season!

This year already has set itself up to be a busy and productive one, with a number of exciting projects to further move the science of oiled wildlife response forward:

1) Revised training program: The OWCN is revisiting our training program, with the hope to make it easier for interested pre-trained volunteers to gain additional knowledge in a more convenient and interactive format.  More on this to come.

2) Expanded recovery & transportation program: In cooperation with IBRRC and PRBO Conservation Science staff, we are continuing to develop our R&T program, with the hope to have trained and equipped personnel throughout the state.  We are also continuing our efforts in reaching out to additional organizations and key personnel to build our team even further in the near future.

3) Continued research: The OWCN continues to strongly promote research and technology development, encouraging all interested wildlife professionals to apply for funding to support research questions on the effects of oil on wildlife and how to better care for those affected animals.  The OWCN is also directly pushing the envelope, conducting studies such as the Western grebe telemetry study described in this blog previously.

4) More advanced outreach products: We are exploring ways of better conveying the effects of oil on wildlife to the general public and K-12 school children through interactive, web-based products.

5) Continued advancements in medical records system: The OWCN continues to work with UPS (yes, Big Brown) to develop an electronic medical records system that will easily and efficiently capture all animal data into a centralized, web-based database.

6) Continued spill response efforts: The OWCN continues to stand ready if (and when) oiled wildlife are affected during spills. Over the past year, we have allocated more than $300,000 in improvements to our key wildlife facilities to better enable them to respond rapidly and effectively should oiled wildlife be collected. We also continue to acquire equipment to better capture affected wildlife, as well as stabilize these animals in the field as rapidly as possible.  Lastly, as you have read in this blog, we (and our Southern California Member Organizations) have responded recently to several small spills, which continues to test and train the system (and people) should a larger event occur. It is through this forward-leaning approach that we can provide the “best achievable capture and care” of oiled wildlife should such an event occur in California.

We have many, many more ideas that we are working on – projects that we will be sharing with you when they become more concrete. However, no idea, project or advancement can ever replace the excellent people that are part of the OWCN. I want to thank each and every volunteer and staff member of our 29 Member Organizations for your continued active participation in the Network.

Here’s to hoping that 2011 is the Year of Preparation, not of Response!

– Mike

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