Latest Blog Posts

Our 2024 Training Schedule is here! 

Our 2024 Training Schedule is here! 

From HAZWOPER Courses to Oilapalooza and even a Deployment Drill, we are working hard behind the scenes to help you keep your skills sharp.

Group Shot from our 2023 Hazing and Deterrence Summit

We have an exciting year planned, and even a little glimpse into the first quarter of the 2025 year.  Some of this is still in development, please keep an eye out for more communication as we move through the 2024 year. 

 

An OWCN Management Team Day Out on the Town

In the OWCN, Readiness is not just about having personnel and gear ready to respond. It is also about taking care of ourselves and our team. Building trust, maintaining good relationships and continuing to communicate effectively will always be the goal. 

So with that.. 

Last week the OWCN Management Team had quite the day on the town participating in some team bonding. It is not easy to get us all together in person, but once in a blue moon we come together and have a little fun. We sure did have fun. 

Reaching Out: Community Partners Day with SeaWorld San Diego

Reaching out may be one of the less emphasized R’s of the OWCN’s four R’s (Readiness, Response, Reaching Out, and Research), but is a very important part of the OWCN’s program. Last month we had the opportunity to participate in SeaWorld’s Inside Look Community Partners Day. The purpose of this event was to give the visiting public an opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes, talk to animal care specialists, and highlight SeaWorld’s valuable partners.

Our Very First Oiled Wildlife Veterinary Training

On December 6th, 2023, we held our very first Oiled Wildlife Veterinarian (OWV) training. The OWV was added to our training program as a spin-off of the Basic Responder Training (BRT), but geared specifically towards veterinarians in our Network. This course was three years in the making (postponed two years in a row due to oil spills) and took the efforts of our entire Management Team. A special shout out goes to Duane Tom for creating a huge portion of this training!

 

The *Oiled* Eagle Has Landed

On December 15th, 2023, the OWCN was contacted by the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) about a golden eagle found covered in heavy oil. Our team helped identify and coordinate with potentially suitable care facilities with the capacity and expertise to handle an eagle, and selected the California Raptor Center, a program of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The source of the eagle’s contamination is under investigation by OSPR and US Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement personnel.

 

My Top 5 Memories of 2023

As we welcome the new year (which is already off to a running start), I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of the amazing things I’ve had the privilege to be a part of over the last year with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. I sat down and made a list - some personal, some professional – and narrowed it down to my top five memories of 2023 to share with you all.

Coming Soon: New SFBOWCEC Training Center

After a lengthy planning and permit process the OWCN Management Team is happy to announce that the construction of the new SFBOWCEC training center has begun. Our general contractor moved onsite and broke ground at the beginning of last month. 

 

Happy Holidays!

As 2023 comes to a close, the OWCN Management Team would like to thank our amazing Network of responders, friends, and colleagues for another great year.

Some OWCN highlights from 2023 include:

My First Response

Although not an oil spill, my first response is definitely one to remember. I was 4.5 months into my new position when the OWCN Management Team took on the Tulare Lake: Avian Botulism Response… and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.  

An Update on Canada Geese from the Tanzanite Spill

One year ago, on November 14, 2022, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network was activated to respond after an estimated 6,000 gallons of red-dye diesel spilled from a fuel storage tank for a back-up generator system that flowed through stormwater infrastructure into a pond at Tanzanite Park near Sacramento, California. Along with various other species of birds and mammals, a total of 34 Canada Geese were captured alive, of which 24 were released back to the area after both the geese and Tanzanite Park pond were cleaned.

The Importance of Preventative Maintenance in Emergency Response

Emergency Response organizations typically have large caches of equipment and supplies to maintain readiness for emergencies that have yet to happen. If these caches didn’t exist, then initial response would be delayed until all necessary equipment and supplies were procured. And post COVID many of you have probably experienced issues in the supply chain, which would further delay initial response. OWCN is no stranger to this concept, READINESS is one of our core principles, which includes maintaining caches of equipment and supplies.

 

 

Five Days in Toad Mode

In early July, members of our Management Team responded to the Los Gatos Creek Incident in Coalinga. Field teams collected 94 oil-impacted Western Toads and 1 Western Spadefoot from the spill site across several days. The amphibians were transported up to UC Davis where staff washed, provided species-appropriate housing, and fed a diet of insects to the patients until their habitat was deemed clean and safe for their return. Of the 95 oiled toads collected, 94 survived and were released! 

 

Lifelong Learning (and Continuing Education)

As a veterinarian, a scientist, and honestly a human, I consider myself a lifelong learner. I believe in constantly asking questions, seeking answers, and asking myself, “how can I do better?” Not to mention, the California State Veterinary Medical Board thinks so too. Licensed veterinarians in the state of California are required to obtain 36 hours of continuing education every two years in order to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Facilities with a Purpose: Member Highlight Taylor Spiliotis

As many of you know OWCN has an extensive network of member organizations as well as a network of purpose-built facilities. Each of these facilities were strategically placed throughout California to facilitate a rapid response in the event of an oil spill. Many of these facilities built at the turn of the millennium with our partners at OSPR, require constant upkeep to maintain functionality of the facilities systems.

A Fun (and Necessary) Day on the Water

It’s been a hot summer so far, and it is not over yet! Fortunately, several of us from the Management Team had the good fortune of spending a day on the water recently. A good excuse to get away from our desks, you might ask? Well, maybe…let me explain.