South Mississippians are trained to spot oiled birds - - The News for South Mississippi

South Mississippians are trained to spot oiled birds


By Patrice Clark – bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) – As oil continues to inch its way to the coastline, Janet Wright fears for the beautiful birds in the gulf and on Pascagoula's beach.

"I think it is sad when you see the oiled birds, but I think it is just an indication of what is going on," Wright said. 

Wright wants to help save the animals from a possible invasion of oil. She and 29 other volunteers are learning how to spot oil contaminated birds and get them help.

Dr. Mark LaSalle or the Pascagoula River Audubon Center is the teacher. 

"It is important to have people on the beach to be the eyes and ears out here, so they can see it and report as quickly as possible," LaSalle said.

The training takes a few hours. LaSalle teaches volunteers to look for signs of weakness in the birds, as well as change in color and movement. 

"Birds are an indicator of habitat health, and ecosystem health," Dr. LaSalle said. "Obviously, they are going to be the first ones impacted by this spill. So by that logic, it is important for us to get out here to evaluate." 

This training is right on time. Wildlife experts say in just two days, two birds have been found with evidence of oil them. 

"As long as there is oil out there in the Sound, there is more potential of getting birds oiled. You would hate to think this tragedy would cost a loss of these birds." 

LaSalle plans to train volunteers in Hancock and Harrison Counties next week. The volunteers are not trained to touch or clean the animals. If you would like to volunteer, call (228) 475-0825. 

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