This week, the OWCN management team and member organization International Bird Rescue are pleased to host the Global Oiled Wildlife Response System (GOWRS) for a series of meetings, activities and planning.
A collaborative project comprising 11 partner organizations, GOWRS is working to raise the level of oiled wildlife readiness and response and care worldwide. Among its objectives: develop a governance system for the notification and mobilization of international wildlife response resources during large oil spills and establish international standards of animal care. GOWRS also aims to help build or expand response networks in regions that don’t have the capacity to respond to animals in distress.
Facilitated by the Sea Alarm Foundation (Belgium), GOWRS meets twice a year in alternating locations. This was the project’s first visit to California. In addition to SAF, OWCN and IBR leadership, attendees included representatives from Massey University (New Zealand), RSPCA (UK), Aiuka (Brazil), Focus Wildlife (WA state and Canada), PRO Bird (Germany), SANCCOB (South Africa), Tri-State Bird Rescue (Delaware) and WRCO (Belgium).
“This is an entity that brings in new ideas from all around the world,” said Curt Clumpner, OWCN deputy director of animal care operations. “Learning how one another’s organizations approach different kinds of problems and care for different species makes us all stronger as a global response system and as individual organizations.”
Among the week’s agenda items: discussion of governance issues critical to efficient emergency response built on trust and teamwork, tabletop readiness exercises for spill scenarios occurring in Malaysia, Denmark and Kazakhstan, meeting OWCN management and IBR staff, and taking tours of the OWCN “boneyard’ equipment facility and the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center managed by IBR. Chevron and ExxonMobil representatives from GOWR’s Industry Advisory Group will join meetings on Friday.
As you might imagine, many of the representatives are fanatical birders. So fittingly, the visit will come to a close with a pelagic birding trip out of Half Moon Bay, a small coastal city about 25 miles south of San Francisco. GOWRS will meet next in the fall.