An update and a plea, for help,
From our oil-mired Gulf Coast;
From an organization I admire,
Animal Rescuers, I trust the most.
I received a message and an update from my friend, Jeff Dorson, of The Humane Society of Louisiana. I had the privilege and the honor of meeting Jeff, and of working with him and his staff, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast nearly five years ago.
His organization was tireless in pet rescue efforts after the hurricane; and today, they are now attempting to respond to the horrendous plight of wildlife and waterfowl, now being horrendously mired in oil.
After Katrina, many of us had helped ‘de-oil’ the fur of numerous left behind dogs and cats, even while government and oil industry officials were all proclaiming that very little oil had even been spilled during that horrendous storm.
I vividly remember one tiny rescued white poodle, now completely black in color from head to foot, completely drenched in oil. We managed to get it all off of her, and she survived.
I believe that many oil-covered birds could now also be saved, if they were only helped quickly enough. And, I had planned on journeying back to the Gulf to help ‘de-oil’ birds, but bureaucratic red tape is already preventing that from happening: the government is restricting wildlife rescue efforts on the Gulf to local, government sanctioned, wildlife agents. And, there are woefully far too few of them working on this right now to get the job done, in this gigantic, horrendous, never ending, oil spill.
I do, however, hope to travel back down to New Orleans in July, to attend the conference that Jeff and his staff are now organizing.
Here is Jeff’s update, and his plea for assistance:
“Our staff and volunteers have been out to the barrier islands in Barataria Bay, near Grand Isle, twice during the past several days. In the six hours that we spent surveying the areas in boats, we saw only three wildlife agents with nets. They had two large plastic dog carriers in the back of their boat. At the same time, we saw hundreds and hundreds of oiled birds in distress.
We have now started up“Operation Here To Help,” a program of the Humane Society of Louisiana, with the goal of surveying the affected areas and providing coordinates to state and federal agencies. Although red tape still prevents us from handling any oiled wildlife ourselves, we can provide critical information to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, so that they can most effectively mobilize their extremely limited manpower. The facts are sobering.
We were told by a wildlife agent that for the entire Louisiana coastal area, only a little more than 100 officers are assigned to rescue oil-covered wildlife, working shifts from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm. I was informed that they do not work at night. With such incredibly inadequate numbers, each rescue must count.
That is why our team wants to be “here to help” to direct officers to areas where their work can make the most impact.
However, much more work is needed. We have identified several ways that you can help us save more wildlife and marine animals, whose lives now precariously hang in the balance. Most of the barrier islands, including Cat and Four Pass Bayou, which are rookeries and home to tens of thousands of water birds, have already been contaminated with oil. The booms they are using as oil buffers are extremely ineffective technology, which dates back to the 1960s.
Our goal now is to complement state and federal agencies, to achieve the best results. As one of Louisiana’s most dedicated humane organizations, we cannot sit back and let a handful of government bureaucrats and BP contractors respond with disgraceful inadequacy to the worst disaster in modern history to hit our precious wetlands.
Here are our plans. We need your help to implement them.
Please call Robert Barham, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife, and ask that he assign more agents to the capture of oil-covered wildlife, and ask him to ask for reinforcements from other states, and other agencies. Please use our reports from the front line as evidence that much more help is urgently needed. Please call 1-225-765-2800.
Currently, there are only a little over 100 agents out in the entire region assigned to wildlife capture and rescue. These numbers are not nearly sufficient to the task. In the six hours we have spent surveying the areas on boats, we have only seen three agents with nets. They had two large plastic dog carriers in the back of their boat. At the same time, we saw hundreds of oil-covered birds in distress.
We will be going out in chartered boats during the next several months to obtain first-hand information and photographic evidence of the mistreatment of marine life. If you would like to join us, please contact us: Cost of trip per person: $60.00 for a three-hour trip. We are currently scheduling one to two trips a week, out of Venice and Grand Isle.
We will be hosting a two-day conference in New Orleans at the end of July. We intend to invite representatives from BP, the Coast Guard, the White House, members of Congress and their staff, social justice groups, animal protection, and environmental groups to attend, to speak, and to listen to one another, with the intention of developing and implementing short- and long-term goals to save our precious wildlife. We will send out additional announcements during the next several weeks. We plan on visiting the coastline on the second day as a group.”
If you would like to help The Humane Society of Louisiana, please visit their website linked below. Like most animal welfare organizations in America today, they are woefully underfunded, and they are always in need of assistance. They are also still housing, feeding, and providing needed medical care to numerous left behind and abandoned pets from Hurricane Katrina – nearly five years later.