The Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine reported June 10, 2010 that its faculty, staff, students and alumni are on the front lines caring for animals affected by the oil spill that began late April when the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Specifically, the LSU group is providing medical care for animals directly affected by the oil spill along the Gulf coast and providing medical care for non-oiled injured animals brought to LSU by state and/or animal rescue groups.
Recent graduate Charity Uman, DVM, and students Tristan Colonius and Margaret Jensen arrived along the Gulf coast in early May to provide support to the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), the International Bird Rescue Center (IBRRC) and the Tri-State Bird Rescue. The LSART mobile unit is providing Internet access and a mobile command unit to the IBRRC and Tri-State personnel and volunteers at the rehabilitation center at Fort Jackson in Plaquemines Parish.
As the disaster response continues, veterinary students are now taking the lead with Renee Poirrier, DVM, director of LSART, facilitating and communicating between Tri-State and LSART. The veterinary school volunteers, who underwent special hazardous materials training, are located at the rehabilitation center at Fort Jackson in Buras, La., and Grand Isle Stabilization Center in Grand Isle, La.
Cassan Pulaski (left, Class of 2012) works with other volunteers to wash a brown pelican at the Fort Jackson rehabilitation center in Buras, La.
Student Eli Landry is working with companies contracted to transport the oiled animals from various marinas to Fort Jackson while student Steven Buco, among others, are staffing and leading the Grand Isle stabilization site.
Veterinary students are also working as wildlife paraprofessionals under the direction of the Tri-State, IBRRC and LSART. Working under the direct supervision of veterinarians, the students are stabilizing the oiled animals with oral fluids and nutrition. The university noted that its School of Veterinary Medicine’s mobile emergency response unit is on stand-by and ready to support the stabilization stations if needed.
LSU’s Wildlife Hospital of Louisiana received the first non-oiled injured bird, a yellow-crowned night heron, in early May at the request of the Department of Wildlife & Fisheries. Since then, the hospital has received another night heron, seven brown pelicans, two white pelicans, a cormorant, three laughing gulls, a purple gallinule, a tern and a gannet.
The hospital stands ready to care for all incapacitated animals not directly affected by the oil found in the area of the oil spill, LSU reported. The number of injured wildlife not affected by the oil found in this area may increase as more people begin to work in what normally would be a low populated area, according to the hospital. This will lead to the identification of injured animals that otherwise may not have been identified by the general public. According to the hospital, these animals may be affected by the inability to obtain food, natural injuries, boat injuries or stress.