FRANKLIN, La. - The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) released two birds Thursday evening, the first of dozens being rehabilitated after they were found oiled at a Belle Chasse refinery in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The birds were released at the Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge in Franklin as part of LDWF’s ongoing effort to save dozens of birds found coated with oil at the Alliance Refinery days after the August 29 hurricane.
LDWF has documented more than 100 oiled birds with some degree of their bodies stained with oil. At least 34 birds have been captured and are at a rehabilitation facility in New Iberia. The department will be capturing more birds for rehabilitation.
The birds released Thursday were a Purple Gallinule and a King Rail. They are secretive marsh birds. They tend to hide under vegetation upon release.
The oiled birds’ path to rehabilitation began after they were captured by LDWF and examined in the field. Other measures taken included general condition assessment, washing eyes and beak, and clearing obvious obstructions, if necessary.
When LDWF determines the bird is stable, it’s placed in a dark carrier with good ventilation for transport to the designated rehabilitation facility. Once at the facility, the bird is further evaluated by rehabilitation staff, then an individual bird treatment plan is developed.
Treatment is implemented until the bird shows noticeable improvement and exhibits normal behaviors. Upon a final assessment and approval by LDWF, which may include consultation with LDWF State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. James LaCour, the bird is then scheduled for release.
The number of oiled birds documented within the Alliance Refinery have been observed primarily within heavy pockets of crude oil, as well as nearby flooded fields and retention ponds.
Black-bellied whistling ducks, blue-winged teal and a variety of egret species were among some of the birds identified. Other wildlife observed with some degree of oiling include alligators and river otters.
The release of more rehabilitated birds will be based on their individual recovery status and approved by LDWF. There is no standard number of days for rehabilitation.
LDWF is working in partnership with the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Alliance Refinery is assisting in the recovery as well.