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The HSUS Releases Preliminary Assessment of BP Oil Spill at Press Conference in La.

HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle calls impact on wildlife far-reaching and the task monumental

At a press conference in Plaquemines Parish, La., on Monday, The HSUS' President and CEO Wayne Pacelle and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., provided a preliminary assessment of the impact of the massive and ongoing BP oil spill on wildlife. Mr. Pacelle and Senator Vitter also said that the response to the needs of wildlife "needs to be stepped up in a dramatic way."

"The Fort Jackson wildlife care center is doing outstanding work, but there is no comprehensive and strategic effort to find oiled wildlife in the bays and marshlands. We need more trained personnel on boats working in the Gulf, and we need more boats deployed to search in a more systematic way for the animals in distress," Pacelle said.

Earlier today, Pacelle and Sen. Vitter traveled to Grand Isle, Queen Bess Island and the Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is taking in many of the oiled wildlife from the spill. The HSUS team plans to visit the Plaquemines Parish Animal Welfare Society today, which was the recipient, along with the St. Bernard Parish shelter, of 12.5 tons of pet food coordinated by The HSUS last week to help residents struggling to make ends meet in the wake of the spill. The team visited the Audubon Nature Institute, which has taken in sea turtles affected by the oil spill, and was impressed with the care and recovery system for oiled turtles.

Sen. Vitter said, "I really appreciate Wayne Pacelle and The HSUS for organizing this assessment as it was heartbreaking today to see all the wildlife affected by the spill. As I wrote in my recent letter to Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard and Dr. Rowan W. Gould of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we must continue to direct our best resources to find and rescue the impacted animals and wildlife."

Over the weekend, the team surveyed by helicopter and boat the waters of the Gulf, travelling from coastal Louisiana to a stretch of northwest Florida, which is beginning to feel the effects of the spill. While in Alabama, a large oil slick surfaced out of the Gulf to begin its assault on Orange Beach and Dauphin Island. At the Mississippi Beach, south of Pascagoula, small tar balls and brown water lapped at the shoreline. A local wildlife rehabilitator there, Robin Bush — a native of coastal Mississippi and a Hurricane Katrina survivor — described for the team the struggles both animals and humans alike have encountered since Katrina, and now, in the midst of the BP oil spill.

Pacelle assembled a team of experts to assess the effects of the spill on wildlife, and the group had spent the past few days touring the Gulf, wildlife rehabilitation centers and a local zoo taking oil-slicked turtles, leading up to the press conference Monday. The team consists of Debra Parsons-Drake, The HSUS' Animal Care Centers' senior director; Laura Bevan, The HSUS' East Coast regional director; Sharon Young, The HSUS' Marine Mammal Issues specialist; Barry Kellogg, Humane Society International veterinary medical doctor; Jim Reed, Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust habitat biologist; Lynn Miller, International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, expert in oiled wildlife (bird) impacts; and Ed Clark, Wildlife Center of Virginia, Clinical Wildlife Health Initiative.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.