OWCN International!

I hope everyone is having a great, relatively oil-free summer. The OWCN Management Team here at Davis is trying to stay cool in the lovely Central Valley heat while staying busy on readiness and response activities (including the Grove Incident in Ventura, which we look forward to giving everyone a detailed accounting of as soon as it is over – for now, you can catch some of the details on OSPR’s Cal Spill Watch website as well as Ventura County Star coverage).

One thing that has been personally keeping me particularly busy in 2016 so far is trying to figure out the best way to share the skills, knowledge, and experience that the Wildlife Health Center here at UC Davis has gained by managing the OWCN for OSPR over the past 20+ years with other regions outside of California. We are extremely proud of our Network and its fabulous partners throughout the state, and feel it is critical to be able to share the readiness accomplishments more broadly to help other regions of the world while maintaining the excellent readiness and capabilities we have in California.

While there are a number of different projects and partnerships that we are exploring, I wanted to share information on three of those that are currently actively being worked on:


  • Global Oiled Wildlife Response System (GOWRS): This project (discussed by me in an earlier blog) is aimed at developing the foundations for a response system that can be accessed by the oil industry and other stakeholders in the event of an oil spill incident requiring international wildlife response resources (Tier 3 response). The system would enhance the response capability of existing wildlife response organizations through a common operating procedure and shared standards that would allow for unity of effort in the event of an incident requiring the support of multiple organizational resources. The project is currently made up of representatives from: Aiuká (Brazil); Focus Wildlife International (USA & Canada); International Bird Rescue (USA);  Oiled Wildlife Care Network, Wildlife Health Center, UC Davis (USA); PRO Bird (Germany); RSPCA (UK); SANCCOB (South Africa); Sea Alarm Foundation (Belgium);  Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research Inc (USA); Wildbase, Massey University (New Zealand); and Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend (Belgium). Specifically, the JIP20 project partners have now delivered draft versions of the Standard Operating Procedures and the Animal Standards for response, and are actively working on a governance system to enable streamlined and efficient decision-making and deployment to occur. We have had two in-person meetings to date on this effort, with a third scheduled for early August in Delaware. For more info on the overall OSR-JIP project, please go here.


  • Oiled Wildlife Response Training (OWRT): This project, developed in close partnership with Wildbase, Massey University (NZ), is designed to create a cutting edge training program that utilizes modern and interactive technologies, coupled with scenario-based in-person instruction, to deliver comprehensive training information. The OWRT has multiple training paths that may be modified to meet specific organizational needs, producing high quality responders ranging from entry level personnel to managers of large-scale oiled wildlife responses. Currently, Massey/UC Davis is readying the roll-out of the first online module (Foundations for Oiled Wildlife Response), with additional modules to come online in the coming months to years. Ancillary benefits to the OWCN program in Californa in collaborating in this manner have been the exposure to more interactive, hands-on online offerings that have shown us better ways of conveying information through the OWCN’s Webinars. So stay tuned for revised Cores! For more info on the OWRT, please go here.


  • International Exercises: In partnership with Sea Alarm Foundation (Belgium), UC Davis staff have been exploring providing in-person directed training opportunities to specific industry clients in key management positions, as well as providing staffing and coaching during broad-based industry exercises that involve wildlife. In June, Hugo Nijkamp and I attended such an event in Malta to provide expertise in these ways, helping to guide personnel on-site in the development of initial wildlife plans, determine the best means to respond with limited resources, and help work through some challenging scenarios. We also took the opportunity to test some of the initial phases of the GOWRS system, seeing how easily it may have been to mount a Tier 3 response based on the information within the exercise.

While there are a number of other exciting and interesting opportunities that we are pursuing, I am currently pushing my self-imposed 800-word limit on blog length (and for those who followed me during Deepwater Horizon, you are probably thanking me!). Suffice it to say, the OWCN has become a world-recognized program on effective oiled wildlife preparedness and response due to the diligence and dedication of all of our staff, volunteers, and Member Organizations that make up OUR Network. We hope that, through an expanded outreach effort to other regions, similar care to animals in crisis can be afforded during international incidents.


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