Swedish program kicks off with 200 trained to wash oil from seabirds.
Heart-rending television coverage of birds' suffering caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have reminded Swedes that similar disasters in the Baltic Sea have happened and probably will happen again. Sweden presently has no national preparedness for dealing with oiled soaked birds, although the Baltic Sea is one of the world's busiest and hundreds of small oil spills occur every year.
Therefore, the Swedish Blue Star (Svenska Blå Stjärnan) together with the National Association for Emergency Help for Birds & Wildlife (KFV) have received an order from the Swedish government authority that handles civil protection and preparedness to organize the training of 200 persons in methods for cleansing oil-drenched birds.
The goal is to prepare Sweden for an oil spill and also to found an international organization that can manage large challenging operations. Washing birds requires special knowledge that can best be provided in Sweden by KFV. Bird laundering instructors from KFV, which is a voluntary organization, will provide eight experts to train 200 volunteers.
"We are the ones that among other things mass vaccinate farm animals in the outbreak of epidemics," noted Swedish Blue Star Chairman Christina Lind. Teaching will be given along coastal areas from Sundsvall in the north to Västervik in the south and also on the island of Gotland. According to Lind, priority will be given to members of the Swedish Blue Star, but other volunteers are also welcome. She says that the two organizations hope to obtain additional funds to train people to cover the entire Baltic Sea coast with knowledgeable bird washers.
"To wash a bird is not difficult, but it is absolutely critical for the bird's chances of survival that it is done properly," says Michael Ovegård, who coordinates training with KFV. The training is part of the EU-funded Environment and Safety Management Cooperation on Shoreline Oil Spill Response.