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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Office of Spill Prevention and Response -- Applying bird hazing techniques in oil spill situations

  • Author(s): Gorenzel, W. Paul
  • Kelly, Paul R.
  • Whisson, Desley A.
  • et al.

This paper provides historical background on the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) and describes the functions and capabilities of the Hazing Group within OSPR with regard to protecting wildlife during oil spills. In response to the oil spill disasters of the tankers Exxon Valdez in Alaska and the American Trader in California, legislators in 1990 created OSPR within the California Department of Fish and Game and gave OSPR substantial authority to oversee spill clean-up, natural resource damage assessment activities, and wildlife protection activities. In view of the potential for high bird mortality during a spill event and the high costs for rehabilitation, OSPR established the Hazing Group with the goal of preventing birds from becoming exposed in the event of a spill. The primary responsibilities of the Hazing Group are to: 1) improve and maintain preparedness and hazing response capabilities for spill events, 2) obtain or provide training and training materials on hazing techniques and strategies, spill response procedures, and other related subjects both for wildlife hazing unit members and other appropriate OSPR responders, and 3) conduct and review research on wildlife hazing techniques and strategies appropriate for spill events. With regard to response capabilities, the Hazing Group is on call 24 hr/day, acquired and maintains an inventory of pyrotechnics and other hazing equipment, has a cargo trailer on stand-by loaded with equipment and supplies sufficient for several days, and assembled a collection of California coastline maps useful for response planning. Training required for Hazing Group personnel includes HAZWOPER certification with an annual refresher course. Other training includes an annual Incident Command System class and participation in drills and exercises. A hazing manual is under development as training material for Hazing Group and other OSPR personnel. The Hazing Group conducted a literature review of research on bird hazing techniques and produced an annotated bibliography on bird hazing techniques applicable to oil spills. As oil spills are relatively short-lived events, techniques with only short-term effectiveness may still be sufficient for hazing birds.

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