Alive, but not quite kicking
Ok, if this picture doesn't make you cry already, then try this:
A German biologist says that efforts to clean oil-drenched birds in the Gulf of Mexico are in vain. For the birds' sake, it would be faster and less painful if animal-rescue workers put them under, she says. Studies and other experts back her up.
"Kill, don't clean," is the recommendation of a German animal biologist, who this week said that massive efforts to clean oil-soaked birds in Gulf of Mexico won't do much to stop a near certain and painful death for the creatures.
Despite the short-term success in cleaning the birds and releasing them back into the wild, few, if any, have a chance of surviving, says Silvia Gaus, a biologist at the Wattenmeer National Park along the North Sea in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.
"According to serious studies, the middle-term survival rate of oil-soaked birds is under 1 percent," Gaus says. "We, therefore, oppose cleaning birds." (Spiegel.de)
Does that feel awful? Well, good news: it is not true. Or is it? Well, lets say there is debate. This is what Jay Holcomb (we might call him a specialist) has to say on it:
"The papers cited by opponents of oiled bird rehabilitation tend to rely on anecdotal band returns (meaning there is no daily tracking method for individuals released and no control groups observed.) These surveys are misleading because they fail to consider some important variables: the protocols used to care for the birds in question, the experience of the organisation caring for the oiled birds and basic things like how the bird's health and water proofing were assessed prior to release. The surveys lump together released birds treated at various centres, under different conditions, with different resources and experience levels. A growing number of studies using radio telemetry, satellite tracking and long-term breeding colony observations are more accurately illustrating the post-oiling survival of sea birds [see examples]. These studies indicate that many seabirds do survive the oiling and rehabilitation process successfully returning to their wild condition. And in some cases (when birds are located and observed in breeding colonies) have been shown to breed successfully for many years following their oiling, rehabilitation and release. As survivorship may be correlated to individual species it is irresponsible to draw conclusions of survivability from one species to another, rather, in-depth studies must be conducted for each species considered if we are to begin to answer this question with any measure of reliability." (Observers)
So, who is right, and what should we do?