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Should We Clean Oil-Soaked Animals? Or let them die or euthanize them instead?

The current spill promises to be the largest in U.S. history, and as cleanup efforts stretch across the summer, it's clear that more oiled birds will be found, stuck and suffering in black goo. And as they do with every oil spill, rescue workers will go to great lengths to capture and clean the survivors hoping to restore them to their natural habitat.

Is it worth the effort? Some scientists aren’t so sure. Because the stress of being captured and bathed is as significant as the trauma of being doused in oil, and because research suggests that many rescued birds die shortly after being released, some experts say euthanasia is a more humane option. “It might make us feel better to clean them up and send them back out,” says Daniel Anderson, an ornithologist at the University of California. “But there’s a real question of how much it actually does for the birds, aside from prolong their suffering.”


Asked by Anonymous at 6:35 PM on Jun. 9, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

This question is closed.
Answers (13)
  • Bird rescuers say they have learned a lot since then about how to best help oil-soaked birds, and that therefore, survival rates stand to increase this time around. “The rescue operations have gotten more sophisticated year by year,” says Michael Fry, an ornithologist with the American Bird Conservancy. In the past, birds were cleaned right away, and volunteers often worked through the night bathing rescued birds. But, as research has since shown, the stress of capture and cleaning can be profoundly deleterious to a bird’s health—knocking hormones out of balance and exacerbating organ damage. So now, captured birds are left to rest for a day or two before being cleaned, and only washed during the day, so as not to disrupt their circadian rhythms

    clean them, and keep learning

    Answer by lovinangels at 7:51 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • Opinions or thoughts?

    Should We Clean Oiled Animals?


    Answer by Anonymous at 6:35 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • clean them!!!!! humans caused it and it's their job to help those they harmed. i'd go down there in a heartbeat to rescue them if i could afford it

    Answer by aliishott2 at 6:38 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • clean them.

    Answer by ColtsFan1912 at 6:38 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • clean them...

    Answer by ryanlynn at 6:39 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • it is so sad :(
    i think if they are drenched and not doing well, put them out of their misery. If they arent that bad, try cleaning them

    Answer by Owl_Feather at 6:41 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • From the article:

    "Of the thousands of birds that were rescued from the Prestige oil spill off the coast of Spain in 2002, only 600 were released into the wild; most of the rest died after just a few days in captivity."

    After reading the article, it seems so sad. People volunteer to clean the animals, and then they die anyway. It doesn't sound like they survive well after being set free, either.

    Answer by mancosmomma at 6:44 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • You could compare this situation to a common type problem in society.....
    We have learned that birth defects aren't the end of the world....people appreciate disabled (physical or mentally) persons...
    Just because they have a disability, do we get rid of them? Do we put them to sleep??? Are we prolonging suffering?
    How inhumane have we become....are animals nothing to us anymore????

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:15 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • Of course it is worth the effort. They have many volunteers being trained right now on how to clean these birds. As long as they have people willing to do it I see no reason they shouldn't. The birds who are found early have a 90% chance of survival. I doubt they will try and clean a half dead animal. If it is hopeless they will euthanize it.

    Answer by itsmesteph11 at 9:07 PM on Jun. 9, 2010

  • clean them!!! It's definitely worth the effort...humans are the ones who put those toxins out there, and a lot of those animals DO survive after being released

    Answer by StellarJKD at 10:41 PM on Jun. 9, 2010