Introduction

Getting wildlife back to the wild is the focus of the Department of Conservation and the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team.

Getting wildlife back to the wild is the focus of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team.

Brett Gartrell, Massey Wlidlife Vet, with a little blue penguin.
Brett Gartrell, Massey Wlidlife Vet

The recovery and treatment of as many affected birds and wildlife as possible is the priority of these two organisations as they work together.

Staff are working with hundreds of birds and are expecting to have to cope with many more in the weeks ahead. This includes developing facilities with the capacity to stabilise, clean, and recondition oiled wildlife.

"These animals may have to be with us for as long as three months," says Oiled Wildlife Manager Barbara Callahan. "We are really lucky to have so many wildlife responders and DOC staff who are committed to the recovery and survival of New Zealand's most precious wildlife."

Penguins swimming.
Penguins

Together DOC and the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team have also coordinated the deployment, accommodation and feeding of up to 160 DOC staff, 110 Oiled Wildlife Responders and a 15 person construction team; an awesome team effort!

In total the Wildlife Centre now has 388 live birds in its care. This includes the 60 New Zealand dotterels that were caught pre-emptively. As at 9am this morning there were:

  • Clean wildlife: 60 NZ dotterels, 1 tern, 3 pied shags and 265 little blue penguins 
  • Oiled wildlife: 58 little blue penguins, 1 shearwater

John Dowding and Tony Habraken with a rare NZ dotterel.
John Dowding and Tony Habraken with a rare NZ dotterel

The combined DOC and National Oiled Wildlife Recovery Teams are working well together with everyone committed to minimising the impact of the oil spill on the wildlife, and getting them into care quickly and with the least amount of stress.

Unfortunately there are casualties with over 1300 dead birds recovered so far. Post-mortems are being carried out on the birds found dead to determine if oiling is the cause of death.

Barbara adds, "On a more positive note we do not expect to lose any local populations or species. Moving forward, our efforts will be focused on the rarest and most threatened species to minimise the impact on vulnerable populations, for example the pre-emptive capture of the New Zealand dotterel".

There are currently 32 DOC personnel deployed to various locations in the wider Bay of Plenty, from Matakana Island to the East Cape, with 71 Oiled Wildlife Responders taking care of wildlife and 17 supporting the efforts at the Incident Control Centre in Tauranga.

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