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article imageOil-covered birds rescued near Husky oil spill in Saskatchewan

By Ken Hanly     Jul 24, 2016 in Environment
Maidstone - The first birds to be casualties of the recent Husky oil spill near Maidstone Saskatchewan have been found near the sight of the leak, completely covered in oil.
One bird died, a sparrow. The other two, a great blue heron and a Canada goose, are still being treated. Photos of the two birds can be found here.The Lend a Paw Animal Rescue which has set up a triage station in a kennel at Maidstone will be joined by wildlife rehabilitation workers from Saskatoon.
An oil plume is traveling down the river after a break was reported on Thursday by Husky. The line was shut down immediately. Although the company set up booms in several locations at least one was breached on Saturday. The river has high water with a lot of debris from rain upstream.
Jan Shadick from Saskatoon said the oily substance covering the birds iss very thick and bitumen-like. Shadick said: "They are completely still covered. We have to get fluids in them and food and stabilize them before we can begin the washing process." A mineral oil will be used to wash the birds and then they will be rinsed. A contractor for Husky Energy will be searching for more birds. 200 to 250 thousand liters of oil and lubricant were spilled. Shadick said: "For me, it's just really overwhelmingly sad to see these birds drenched in this black oil and know that I have to wait to wash them and do something about it. And to just see the struggle, I guess, in their eyes. Perhaps it's the potential that there are hundreds and hundreds of them and my, at the moment, sense of helplessness at [not] being able to fix it immediately."
Husky Energy said that as of Sunday the cleanup was complete. It is working with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan. Husky has a 24-hour emergency line for anyone finding an impacted animal or bird.
Human activity took an even higher toll on birds in Ottawa. On Saturday, 30 birds died after crashing into a glass walkway that connects old and new buildings at Ottawa's city hall. This comes just days after a group called Safe Wings Ottawa laid out rows and rows of dead birds to raise awareness of the problem. It wants the city to ensure that it builds bird-friendly designs. The day started out with five Bohemian Waxwings being found dead below the glass. Among the rows of birds that Safe Wings laid out were a mallard duck, merlin, owl and three indigo buntings. Since 2014, Safe Wings has identified 94 species of birds being killed. A photo of the rows of birds can be found here.
Most bird deaths are caused by pet and feral cats — about 200 million per year. Power line collisions and electrocutions are the second leading cause at 25 million. Third are collisions with houses or buildings as in Ottawa causing 25 million deaths.
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