BP does damage control on impact to wildlife

One of the most frustrating aspects of covering the BP oil disaster is getting accurate numbers on the marine and wildlife killed by the 21 million gallons of crude oil that has been spewing from Deepwater Horizon.

BP will tell us many people and boats are involved in the cleanup and containment, how much boom has been deployed and about the claims received and paid. Nothing on the how many birds, turtles, etc. that they have killed.

Washington Post reports today: “The damage to the environment was chillingly evident Thursday on East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast, where workers found birds coated in thick, black goo. Images shot by an Associated Press photographer show Brown pelicans drenched in thick oil, struggling and flailing in the surf. ”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has determined there has been a fishery disaster in Florida due to the economic impact on commercial and recreational fisheries from the BP oil spill—increasing the affected area from the May 24 determination which included Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The disaster determination was made in response to requests from Florida Governor Charlie Crist and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson based on the loss of access to many commercial fisheries and the existing and anticipated environmental damage from this unprecedented event. The determination allows the federal government to mobilize a range of assistance measures for Florida fishing communities.

We will get from BP is another media event today:

Media Tour of the Pensacola Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

WHO: Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, which is contracted by BP (the Responsible Party) to rehabilitate wildlife in this incident.
WHAT: Briefing and walk through of Pensacola Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
WHEN: Friday, June 4, 2010 11:00 a.m. central
WHERE: 115 East Nine Mile Road, Pensacola, Fl 32514
CONTACT: Mobile Joint Information Center (251) 445-8965

BACKGROUND: There are three birds at this facility. Depending on the situation, there may be an opportunity to observe feeding one of the birds at the facility.

When oiled birds arrive at treatment facilities, set up just for this purpose, they receive a full physical including blood values, weight, and a thorough examination of the extent of oiling. Many oiled birds are dehydrated, so are generally given an IV and oral hydration. Birds must be physically stable prior to washing, and allowed to rest and recover until they are stable enough to withstand the process. When they meet medical criteria they are washed in a solution made with Dawn detergent. It can take 45 minutes to an hour to wash a large bird. Up to 300 gallons per bird are needed for the cleaning process. All wastewater is controlled and disposed of in accordance with regulations. Cleaned birds are allowed to recover and preen until they are waterproof, and meet release criteria. Before release, federal and state wildlife agencies help determine the best locations to release the birds. Federal bird identification bands are applied to each released bird.

The public is advised not to attempt to capture, rescue, or clean oiled or injured birds or other wildlife. Doing so can cause more harm than good. If oiled wildlife are found, call the Oiled Wildlife hotline established by BP at (866) 557-1401. Skilled, trained and authorized responders have been pre-positioned throughout the incident area to respond quickly.

Joint Information Center Point of Contact: Tom MacKenzie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 678-296-6400