I recently attended the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association annual meeting in Albany, NY. Although I’m a native New Yorker, I’d never been to Albany before, so it was fun to visit the state capital for the first time. Albany was pretty but cold in February, and we were treated to a decent-sized snowstorm at the end of the meeting that put a monkey wrench in a lot of travel plans!
The conference was held in a lovely hotel near the airport. One of the most popular sessions was about the Deepwater Horizon spill. It was sponsored by OWCN and featured speakers from Tri-State Bird Rescue, IBRRC, NOAA, and US Fish & Wildlife Service. Dr. Heidi Stout from Tri-State gave an overview of the avian response, and Curt Clumpner from IBRRC talked about the search and collection efforts. Sarah Wilkin, who worked closely with Mike during the spill, gave a nice talk about the oiled mammal and turtle response. Carmen Simonton from the USFWS discussed the trials and tribulations of getting a paraprofessional program going. The session wrapped up with a talk from Barb Suto about Helping from Home.
Later there was an afternoon session on aquatic birds, moderated by former OWCN staffer January Bill. It was a great session, with talks on grebes, shorebirds, foot injuries, as well as an excellent in-depth discussion of waterproofing by Curt. The session continued later in the meeting with a presentation on gannets that featured some great video! It made me wish we saw gannets here on the West Coast, even though they can be challenging birds to manage. There were other talks on aquatic birds in other sessions, too, including one about loon conservation in NY and another about a recently recognized disease syndrome in double-crested cormorants.
A couple of the highlights for me were a fantastic presentation on the latest in treatment of head trauma injuries in birds, by Dr. Flo Tseng, and an update on white nose syndrome in bats, by Dr. Alison Robbins. It was also great to see Flo and Alison again, as both are from Tufts, my alma mater. Of course, one of the best parts of going to meetings is seeing old friends, and I definitely enjoyed catching up with people I don’t get to see very often . . . . as well as socializing with people I see regularly but always in a work context!
Overall, a great conference and a fun week. I look forward to next year, where the conference will be held in Baton Rouge. We won’t have to worry about snowstorms there!