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.”
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