Earlier this week I spent some time in Bakersfield meeting with wildlife rehabilitators. Although Bakersfield is in the San Joaquin Valley, where agriculture is king, it is also a major area for oil and natural gas production. In fact, 75% of the oil produced in California comes from the Bakersfield region. While oil spills in the ocean and on the coasts rightfully get most of the media attention, oil can spill on land as well.
Despite the lack of a comprehensive inland spill response structure, oil gets spilled there and animals are affected. Fortunately, there are some rehabilitators who are willing to help! The Facility for Animal Care and Treatment (FACT), associated with California State University at Bakersfield, handles a handful of oiled animals each year. Although they focus on birds of prey, they have dealt with other species that have been oiled, including a kit fox.
The California Living Museum, or CALM, is a small zoo with native species that also has an active rehabilitation program. They have also managed several oiled animals of a variety of species; like FACT, they typically get only a handful of such cases a year. This is a far cry from the hundreds, or even thousands, of birds that may be affected by a coastal oil spill, but these inland spills present some unique challenges to rehabbers, such as a tenacious, tarry product and affected animals stuck in the extreme heat of the area. Fortunately, there are some people at OSPR and OWCN working together to address this issue, and we hope that we’ll have something worked out soon.
In the meantime, here’s a shout out to the hard-working folks at FACT and CALM! And, for those of you coming to Oilapalooza, our illustrious director Mike will give an update on the status of inland spill response at the conference.
P.S. If you haven’t yet registered for Oilapalooza and would like to attend, see the OWCN contact at your member organization for webinar links and more information.