By Laura Haefeli, CBS Sacramento
DAVIS (CBS13) – Countless wildlife species are in danger as the Huntington Beach oil spill becomes one of the largest spills in Southern California history.
News of the pipeline rupture in Southern California made its way to the UC Davis campus, which activated veterinary first responders with the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.
“We deployed team members. We had people flying down, driving. We want to send people down as soon as possible,” said Eunah Preston with the care network.
The network is working quickly to save wildlife, but the clock is ticking.
“Unfortunately, the brown pelican had chronic injuries that required us to humanely euthanize it yesterday,” said Dr. Michael Ziccardi, the network’s director.
CBS13 was sent a video of a sanderling, a small bird that lives along Huntington Beach and nearly died after it was found covered in oil Monday. It was saved by UC Davis veterinarian Dr. Duane Tom.
“We have a team that is perfectly equipped and has been training for this moment,” Preston said.
As oil continues to wash ashore, injured animals are being cared for inside mobile units driven from UC Davis to Southern California.
“Providing medical care, making sure their vitals are good,” Preston said.
Preston told CBS13 the network is prepared to stay in Southern California until the wildlife rescue is complete.
“They are all very drained physically. Mentally it’s also an emotional process — they don’t want to see animals in distress,” Preston said.
The responders in Southern California are prepared to remain on scene until wildlife is clear of danger: a process that could potentially take months.
Additionally, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in Orange County to further support the response to the oil spill.