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    Desperate Rescue: Birds Fouled By Mystery Oil Source b/w Venice & Santa Barbara Being Rushed To San Pedro Facility; 1,000+ Oiled Birds Found; Volunteer Helpers Sought

    (January 17, 2005) -- A massive animal rescue operation is underway as hundreds of seabirds fouled by a mystery oil source have turned up between Venice Beach and Santa Barbara...and are being rushed for cleaning and treatment at San Pedro's Oiled Bird Care and Education Center.

    A call has gone out for volunteers to help (information below).

    As of Sunday night (Jan. 16), a CA Dept. of Fish & Game spokesman said more than 1,000 seabirds -- mainly western grebes -- had been found fouled by the oil.

    The oil source is unknown as we post but is being analyzed by OSPR's Petroleum Chemistry Lab near Sacramento.

    The CA Dept. of Fish & Game -- one of the state's oldest agencies, established in 1872 -- has responded through its Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response. (One of the CA Dept. of Fish & Games's original duties was dealing with substances in waterways.) OSPR has a veterinary van operating in Ventura Harbor, where birds are stabilized before transport to the fully-equipped San Pedro facility.

    The San Pedro Oiled Bird Care Center is part of CA's Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), run by the Wildlife Health Center at UC Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine. It maintains 12 facilities along the CA coast...including one in San Pedro near Fort MacArthur,

    The OWCN is seeking volunteers over age 18 to work with wildlife personnel. Interested adults may call 800-228-4544 for more information or to volunteer.

    In a written release, the CA Dept. of Fish & Game says DON'T handle or approach oiled or injured wildlife. "Injured animals can be even more dangerous to humans than healthy ones," the agency says.

    To our knowledge, there haven't been reports of oiled birds turning up in the LB area, but if you see an animal in distress, report it to 562-342-7222. "Trained wildlife professionals will be dispatched with appropriate equipment to capture and transport the animal without further injury," the state agency says.

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