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Gulf oil spill: National parks, fish & wildlife directors head to gulf

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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Sunday dispatched the head of the National Park Service, Jon Jarvis, to Mobile, Ala., and the acting head of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Rowan Gould, to Houma, La., to help with recovery efforts as the oil plume bears down on several wildlife preserves.

The National Park Service manages Gulf Islands National Seashore, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Padre Island National Seashore, and Everglades National Park, among other parks along the Gulf Coast.

The Fish and Wildlife Service manages 24 national wildlife refuges that could potentially be affected by the spill, including Breton National Wildlife Refuge.

Meanwhile, the first two oiled birds found in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill -- a Northern Gannet and a brown pelican -- have been cleaned and are to be released Monday near Vero Beach, Fla., according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Fish & Wildlife writes:

The Gannet, a young male nicknamed "Lucky" by the workers who rescued him, was found April 27 in the Gulf near the source of the leak. Clean-up workers on a boat reached out to him with a pole and he jumped on it. He was brought to the Bird Rehabilitation Facility at Ft. Jackson, Louisiana, on April 30.

The Tri-State Bird Rescue team, which includes the International Bird Rescue Research Center, evaluated Lucky and found he was about 80 percent oiled, giving him an orange appearance. He was thin and dehydrated, so wildlife veterinarian Dr. Erica Miller gave him intravenous fluids several times, as well as oral fluids and Pepto-Bismol for oil he may have ingested. He was washed with a mild detergent solution on May 1, and has been in an outdoor pool for a few days now, gaining weight.

The pelican, also a young male, was found May 3 on Stone Island in Breton Sound on the Louisiana coast by a team that included personnel from the Service, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and the U.S. Minerals Management Service. He was taken to the Ft. Jackson facility by helicopter the day he was rescued. He was thin and moderately oiled over his whole body. The Tri-State Bird Rescue Team and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Miller treated him with IV and oral fluids, and started hand-feeding fish to him the first day. He was washed on 4 May and has been in an outside pool for several days, gaining weight.

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was the nation’s first wildlife refuge, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. It was selected as the release site because it is located within the Indian River Lagoon, the most biologically diverse estuary in the United States. It has a large population of Gannets and Pelicans for the two rescued birds to join, and is out of the current oil spill trajectory.  

-- Geoff Mohan

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