Oil spills affect aquatic birds on individual, population, and ecosystem levels. Communities have responded to environmental accidents and have cared for oiled birds for as long as the damaging effects of oil exposure have been realized. Not until the Exxon Valdez disaster occurred, however, was there the political climate necessary to facilitate and fund organized oiled wildlife responses in the United States. Federal and California law now supports the infrastructure necessary to respond rapidly and efficiently to oil spills affecting wildlife. This improved infrastructure has resulted in access to appropriately designed and equipped facilities, trained staff and volunteers, and research improving medical management and bird survival.
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Vol. 16 • No. 2