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We're On Call

The HSUS stands ready to help with response to Gulf oil spill

The Humane Society of the United States


All eyes are on the oil spill in the Gulf. Julia Breaux-Melancon, The HSUS's Louisiana state director, considers the wildlife in this incredible region. Watch the video.

It has been more than two weeks since an offshore rig exploded and started gushing thousands of barrels of oil a day into the fertile waters of the Gulf of Mexico. As of last night, the oil had reached land on the Chandeleur Islands, southeast of New Orleans, and ultimately could affect the entire Gulf coastline.

An oil sheen currently covers 1,200 square miles. The impact of this disaster on the region and its wildlife could be devastating.

Many groups have joined the cause. The Humane Society of the United States -- with a history of more than 30 years in disaster relief work, including some oil spills -- is preparing to help in any way we can. Our focus is on providing assistance to rescue groups dedicated to the treating of oiled wildlife as well as to governmental and non-governmental organizations involved.

Our staff and volunteers are trained and qualified to respond in the event our assistance is requested.

In Tallahasse, Sarasota and Ft. Lauderdale, we're securing sites and schedules for required OSHA training for all volunteers. All courses are on personal safety and are required to assist in the response to the oil spill, regardless of certifications or previous training. Registration information for level 1 volunteer courses to be held in Tallahassee and Ft. Lauderdale—open to the public—will be forthcoming.

In South Florida, our Wildlife Care Center is one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation facilities in the country, seeing more than 12,000 animals a year. There, we treat many of the same species at risk from the oil spill—brown pelicans, egrets, royal terns and others. Staff there is in fast motion, gearing up for the possible intake of affected animals and whatever else might come their way.

  • The center is available as a resource for stabilization care for oiled animals after being decontaminated
  • Center experts are available to assist in the release of treated animals so long as waters are clear
  • Staff is taking inventory, stocking up where necessary, of supplies that may be needed if intake at the center increases dramatically
  • Staff is working with their volunteer base to help free up expert resources that may need to be diverted for more critical tasks.

Additionally, we have key staff located in all of the Gulf Coast states. They've reached out to emergency management, wildlife centers, and shelters to offer support and resources when and if needed. The hardest part of an incident like this is patiently waiting to determine where we can have the most impact for the best possible outcome.

Editor's note: Paraprofessional rehabilitators interested in volunteering to help wildlife affected by the oil spill can learn more here»

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