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Published: Monday, May 10, 2010, 12:01 a.m.

PAWS ready to save wildlife if oil spills here

LYNNWOOD — Those who help clean up after oil spills in this state are keeping track of the response to the April 20 offshore drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.
“They’re our colleagues, some we know personally,” Jennifer Convy, wildlife director of the PAWS Wildlife Center, said. “We certainly aren’t talking to them now because they’re too busy, but we read their blogs.”
PAWS has assisted with oil spills in Washington state since the Wildlife Center in Lynnwood opened its doors in 1981. The organization is the only rehabilitation center in the state that is certified to admit and rehabilitate oiled birds.
If an oil spill occurs, PAWS is one organization the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife might ask to help, said Andy Carlson, oiled wildlife rescue coordinator. Others include Focus Wildlife in Anacortes and Islands’ Oil Spill Association in Friday Harbor.
“We respond fairly similarly in the Northwest to the way they have in the Gulf,” Carlson said. “Structurally we respond with different branches for birds and for marine animals.”
PAWS Wildlife Center takes care of all native Washington wildlife, including harbor seals and seabirds that can be affected by oil spills, Convy said.
“We rehabilitate a lot of seabirds here,” she said. “That’s why we’re pretty involved in the oil spill world because we have a soft spot in our heart for seabirds.”
When oiled birds come to PAWS, they undergo a labor-intensive process to remove the contaminant, she said. The birds are dried and put in pools of water so they can preen and realign their feathers. The length of time for rehabilitation depends on the type of bird and the amount of oil stuck on them.
PAWS has received calls from people who want to volunteer with the clean up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. Carlson said he was not aware of any formal request for volunteer response from Washington state.
“We have been asked to provide a list of resources should we be asked,” he said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.
Experienced volunteers needed
Jennifer Convy, wildlife director of the PAWS Wildlife Center, recommends volunteers who have experience working with oiled birds go to the Deepwater Horizon Response Website at www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931.
Volunteer information is also available by calling 866-448-5816.
Story tags » LynnwoodEnvironmental Issues

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