Refugio Incident – Questions about helping

With ongoing efforts down in Santa Barbara at the Refugio Incident, we are getting a lot of questions from the public. These questions generally focus around “how can I help”, and “why can’t I pick up the oiled animals”? We’d like to answer these questions, to clear up any confusion, and let everyone know that we have people on the ground and are working hard to assess the impact.

Why can’t I pick up the oiled animals? Two reasons, human safety and animal safety. During our spill our first priority has to be human safety. Oil is a toxic substance that can be absorbed through the skin, and can be dangerous to humans. Additionally, oiled animals that come to shore are very scared, and may use their “weapons” (bills, claws, teeth, etc.) to protect themselves if you try to handle them. The Oiled Wildlife Care Network has trained professionals that wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep them protected from the oil and know how to safely handle oiled animals during capture. If untrained members of the public attempt to capture oiled wildlife they may cause additional harm. They may injure the animal by mishandling them, or they may scare them back into the water, which will further complicate issues with the fact that they are cold and tired.

How can I help? If you see oiled wildlife please report immediately by calling 1-877-UCD-OWCN, do not attempt to pick up the animal. At this time we are NOT requesting volunteers. The OWCN has a large pool of pre-trained volunteers that are ready to go during spill times. If we need volunteers the pre-trained volunteers will be the first ones we contact. If our needs for volunteers increase, we will send out an announcement asking for the public’s help. Information will be posted in multiple locations, and check back frequently for updates.

Cal Spill Watch:

Cal Spill Watch Refugio Incident Volunteer Info:

OWCN Website:

OWCN Blog:

OWCN Facebook Page:

Thank you to everyone for your concern about the wildlife in the area. We are working hard to ensure that all people and animals stay safe. Updates to come…


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