On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the British Petroleum oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. The resulting oil slick is potentially the worst environmental disaster in the history of the United States. The oil, which continues to pump into the sea, threatens migrating birds, nesting brown pelicans and even river otters and mink along Louisiana’s fragile islands and barrier marshes.
Spill timing makes action urgent
Despite valiant efforts by The US Coast Guard to prevent the spread of oil, the slick will reach land as soon as today.
“For birds, the timing could not be worse; they are breeding and nesting and are especially vulnerable in many of the places where the oil could come ashore. We have to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, including a true catastrophe for birds,” Melanie Driscoll, director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, told CNN.
Energy giant British Petroleum has vowed to pay “all necessary and appropriate clean-up costs.” But groups in the area need your help now to protect and clean the delicate eco-system, and save the lives of thousands of migrating birds and wildlife.
How you can help
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is focusing on national wildlife refuges on a chain of barrier islands, but it will take the dedicated work of nonprofits to make a difference on the ground. Your donation can help nonprofits save the recently de-listed Brown Pelican, or monitor precious marshland.
Some donors and nonprofits are getting creative in helping defend the coast. The Huffington Post and The New York Times report that volunteers are learning to make homemade oil booms by stuffing nylons with hair and fur donated by salons, groomers, and hosiery companies nationwide donated. Hundreds of tons of naturally absorbent human hair and animal fur combined with tens of thousands of pairs of remainder nylons are one of the most inventive ways groups are attempting to limit the impact of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill.
Unneeded hair and fur can be sent to Matter of Trust’s headquarters. You can organize a “hair-raising” event to collect donations or speak to locate hair stylists and pet groomers about sending in the leftover hair and fur.
Here are groups working in the region that you can help with your donation or volunteer time:
- Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research is overseeing the wildlife rehabilitation response along the gulf coast and working closely with many collaborating organizations.
- American Bird Conservancy is monitoring clean-up efforts and working to reduce the long-term impacts to birds. They ABC has produced a map showing the location of Globally Important Bird Areas in relation to the advancing oil spill.
- The National Wildlife Federation is working with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, which is recruiting volunteers through its website (CRCL.org).
- The International Bird Rescue and Research Center has sent a team of specialists to the region to help with any oiled wildlife. If you spot oiled wildlife, call the Wildlife Reporting Hotline at 866-557-1401. Please note that you should not capture oiled birds (or any other oiled wildlife), but report them to the hotline.
- The National Audubon Society is recruiting volunteers to train to respond to the oil spill. They are also encouraging the public to contact the Interior Department and recommend they halt the expansion of offshore oil drilling in the eastern United States.
- The Gulf Coast Restoration Network is monitoring such areas as the Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and mounting a campaign to assure that new tragedies such as the BP oil spill do not occur again.
- Greater New Orleans Foundation opened the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund in response to the recent disaster and will address the short- and long-term environmental needs in the wake of the spill.
- The Alabama Coastal Foundation is accepting donations for clean-up efforts. Volunteers should send their contact information including name, e-mail address and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Save Our Seabirds is a Florida rescue group looking for volunteers as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife. To help, call 941-388-3010.
- The Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida is seeking donations and volunteers as it prepares for the arrival of affected birds and other animals.
For more information about this national emergency:
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