5 min read

Birds Rescued In Huge Oil Spill Get Much-Needed Baths

Five very lucky birds just got back where they belong after surviving a nasty oil spill.

Two weeks ago, 200,000 to 250,000 liters of oil burst forth from a pipeline in Maidstone, Canada, and seeped into the northern region of the Saskatchewan River.

Not only were drinking water and land contaminated as a result, but wild animals in the path of the spill suddenly found themselves bogged down by the thick, black muck.

Rescue organizations Focus Wildlife, Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation, Canine Action Project and Lend a Paw Animal Rescue all quickly joined forces to rescue animals who got caught in the aftermath of the Husky Energy oil spill. The cause of the spill is still under investigation.

Some of the animals taken into the groups' care include ducks, geese, beavers, snakes and a great blue heron who's since been named Ed.

While oil on an animal is generally bad news, it presents a particular challenge for birds who unfortunately get their feathers coated.

Chris Battaglia, response director of Focus Wildlife, told Global News that it's a misconception that the actual oil kills birds in such incidents. "It disrupts the organization of their feathers," he said.

"Feathers are naturally water repellent ... When oil gets in, it's like getting gum in Velcro, you can't put it back together so water is able to penetrate through," he continued, adding affected birds typically develop hypothermia and eventually die when left untreated.

All of the animals rescued from the Husky spill, including Ed - who got a much-needed bath after being practically dyed black - have since been moved from their initial location at Lend a Paw and are now housed at Focus Wildlife, where they'll continue to be cared for until they're ready for release.

On August 6, three clean geese and two ducks were the among the first rescues to return to the wild. They were released into Rush Lake, in Saskatchewan, Canada, chosen for its location away from the spill, and its healthy population of birds for the rescues to mingle with.

"Experiencing the process and seeing the transformation of these beautiful creatures is the same struggle and reward that all of us involved in the world of rescue see on a daily basis," Lend a Paw wrote in the update. "Whether it's a mangy, starving dog, an orphaned squirrel or an oiled bird they all need and deserve human understanding and compassion."

Click here and here to see ways you can help contribute to the organizations assisting with rescue efforts.

Watch this video about a gull who fell into a vat of curry and also needed help getting clean again: