Massey vets on hand for oil spill response

New Zealand’s Massey University has led the wildlife response to the oil spill caused by the grounding of the Rena cargo ship on Astrolabe reef at the entrance to the port of Tauranga, in October.

The National Oiled Wildlife Response Team is trained, managed and co-ordinated by specialists at the university’s New Zealand Wildlife Health Centre in Palmerston North, under contract to Maritime New Zealand.

Its members include vets, pathologists and wildlife technicians. Regional councils around the country also contribute personnel.

Wildlife veterinarians Kerri Morgan and Helen McConnell co-ordinate the wildlife response and are assisted by other university veterinary staff, including Brett Gartrell and veterinary residents and technicians.

Gartrell, who manages the wildlife response facility, said staff have treated more than 400 animals at the centre.

“We have a three stage system to stabilise, clean and then rehabilitate animals,” he said. “All animals affected by the oil are washed but it takes a number of days for them to regain waterproofing.”

Birds with specific health issues are held in an intensive care unit led by one of four Massey vets. Massey wildlife veterinarian Micah Jensen said the birds the unit have treated have had a range of ailments.

“There are birds that have picked up respiratory infections, one had a cloacal prolapse, another had a corneal ulcer,” Jensen said. Continue reading Massey vets on hand for oil spill response