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Va. Wildlife Center: Not Enough Rescue Workers in the Gulf

By: Bianca Spinosa Email
By: Bianca Spinosa Email

June 16, 2010

The oil keeps gushing out of the broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, and it's become a financial and environmental disaster. The president of the Virginia Wildlife Center in Waynesboro, Ed Clark, just got back from a trip to the Gulf where he got a rare firsthand look at how the oil spill is impacting wildlife there.

Clark says most animals aren't getting the care they need because there just aren't enough rescue workers.

It's encouraging to see images of rescue workers cleaning the oil off pelicans, but what you aren't seeing is how many birds aren't rescued. After six days of inspecting the Gulf with the Humane Society, Ed Clark is concerned.

"How do we get more hands on deck to help the wildlife being oiled?" says the Founder of Virginia's Wildlife Center. "Right now the door is being slammed in our face."

Clark says workers aren't able to get to the oil-soaked birds in the fragile, hard-to-reach marshlands. His animal hospital wants to help.

"There are people, such as the staff of the Wildlife Center, who would be very willing to join the team and the effort. Let the people who are experts in. Let us do our job," Clark says.

Globs of crude oil, known as tar balls, are doing their damage to the birds, on the inside and outside.

"It's the oil that gets on the inside, even the small amounts, as the animals try to breathe, as they try to get it off themselves. They invariably ingest some of that stuff."

The booms put in place to protect the marshes from oil are helping, but access to the islands was restricted. In many cases, Clark's crew weren't able to go to many of the islands in the bayou.

"It's crazy, the bureaucratic nightmare down there," says Clark. "It's a miracle that anything is getting done."

The wildlife expert managed to capture a photo of a pelican with no tarballs on its beak or oil in its feathers. A rare image from the gulf. But it gives him hope that maybe with some more help, the bird's future will be less murky.

Clark does not plan on going back to the Gulf anytime soon, because he says the best way he can help is by going to Washington and lobbying for the right to have more volunteers and veterinary workers helping with the animal rescues.

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