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DOC wildlife recovery teams performing under pressure

Friday, 28 October 2011 10:30 p.m.

Getting wildlife back to the wild is the focus of the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team (NOWRT). Under the leadership of the NOWRT, the recovery and treatment of as many affected birds and wildlife as possible is the priority of these two organisations as they work together. 

The teams are working with hundreds of birds and expecting to have to cope with many more in the weeks ahead. This includes developing facilities with the capacity to stabilise, clean, and rehabilitate oiled wildlife. 

"These animals may have to be with us for as long as 3 months," says Oiled Wildlife Manager Barbara Callahan. "We are really lucky to have so many responders and DOC staff who are committed to the recovery and survival of New Zealand's most precious wildlife." 

Together DOC and the NOWRT have also coordinated the deployment, accommodation and feeding of up to 160 DOC staff, 110 oiled wildlife responders and a 15 person construction teams; an awesome team effort! 

In total, the National Oiled Wildlife Response Centre now has 388 live birds in its care. This includes the 60 New Zealand dotterels that were caught pre-emptively. As at 9am today there were:

  • Clean wildlife: 60 NZ dotterels, 1 tern, 3 pied shags and 265 Little blue penguins
  • Oiled wildlife: 58 little blue penguins, 1 shearwater

The combined DOC and NOWRT team are working well together with everyone committed to minimising the impact of the oil spill on the wildlife and getting them into care quickly and with the least amount of stress.

Unfortunately, there are casualties with over 1300 dead birds recovered so far. Post-mortems are being carried out on the birds found dead to determine if oiling is the cause of death.

Barbara adds: "On a more positive note, we do not expect to lose any local populations or species. Moving forward, our efforts will be focused on the rarest and most threatened species to minimise the impact on vulnerable populations - for example, the pre-emptive capture of the NZ dotterel".

There are currently 32 DOC personnel deployed to various locations in the wider Bay of Plenty from Matakana Island to East Cape, with 71 Wildlife responders taking care of wildlife and 17 supporting the efforts at the Incident Control Centre, Tauranga.

Penguins