Oiled bird picked up in Belle ChasseJul 13th, 2010 | By Frank McCormack | Category: top story
Last Monday, Audrey Mudge and her neighbors on G Street in Belle Chasse were enjoying a pleasant weekday afternoon – working in the yard, visiting with passersby, enjoying the outdoors from the patio.
And then, around 3:30 that afternoon, the neighbors on G Street were confronted face-to-face with one of the grim realities of the BP oil spill when they were approached by an oily Louisiana roseate spoonbill.
The roseate spoonbill’s classic pink plumage was totally gone, replaced with brown, oily feathers.
“We were just sitting on my patio in the back,” Mudge said. “My tenant was in the driveway and the bird just walked up the driveway to us. The closer we looked at it, we saw it was covered in oil.
“It walked toward us like he knew we could help him or something,” she said.
Mudge’s daughter, Margaret, ran inside to get the bird a piece of bread. The group promptly called BP’s wildlife hotline and the Plaquemines Parish Police Department.
“It took about 30 minutes. In the meantime, it poured down rain and the bird just stood there not five feet from us in the rain,” Mudge said. “You could definitely tell he was on his way to dying had we not called.”
In the rain, the bird would drink out of the newly formed puddles, Mudge said. Before long, both Plaquemines Police officers and Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents arrived and carefully loaded the bird into a crate to be transported to Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center.
“The police officer said it was the first call like that they’d gotten in Belle Chasse,” Mudge said. “It was shocking in a way to think it could come this far [north], especially if it couldn’t fly. It’s closer than you think.”
As of July 11, a total of 1,459 birds had been collected as a result of the oil spill in Louisiana alone.
Wildlife center moved from Buras to Hammond
Rescued birds will have to head north this summer as Unified Command officials announced July 4 that the Fort Jackson Bird Rehabilitation Center is being moved north of Lake Pontchartrain to a Hammond facility currently being outfitted. The move is due to hurricane season and the Hammond facility is on track to be operational in several weeks.
Because the Buras facility is located in a phase one hurricane evacuation zone, which is first to be evacuated in the event of a hurricane, the move to Hammond will help minimize harm and stress to animals undergoing rehabilitation during hurricane season.
“The wildlife branch is grateful to Plaquemines Parish officials and residents for their assistance and we appreciate their continued support as we move to a long-term facility outside of the hurricane evacuation area,” said Rhonda Murgatrovd, wildlife branch director.
Despite the move, animals will still be received and stabilized in Plaquemines Parish.
The new facility is approximately 30,000 square feet and has the capacity to care for about 2,000 birds.
In response to the move, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser issued a statement that expressed concern at the long commute that oiled wildlife will now have to endure.
“Some oiled birds don’t survive the trip from the marsh to the dock, yet they’re now going to transfer these birds more than two hours by vehicle,” Nungesser said. “We can’t understand why this operation will be moved and not at least have the cleaning done locally, then transport the healthy birds.”
“I can understand them moving it because, if we get a hurricane, they might not be able to move all the animals in time,” Mudge said. “At the same time, if they move the operation, are they going to be able to get them to the facility in time to save them?”