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Oiled wildlife response exercise in the Wadden Sea

Elements from the EUROWA Basic Responder Course have been used in a large scale exercise organized in the Dutch Wadden Sea, which took place in early September 2017. Claude Velter of the Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend led the wildlife component of this exercise, assisted by Monique de Vrijer of the Karel Schot Wildlife Centre in Rotterdam.

The three-day event allowed Rijkswaterstaat to test the national capability to combat oil pollution that could threaten this extremely vulnerable open and complex area of barrier islands, tidal flats and salt marshes. The Dutch Wadden Sea has protected status in all relevant international nature protection conventions and most recently was recognised under the UNESCO World Heritage Site Convention.

Whilst the exercise concentrated predominantly on combating oil pollution, the organisers recognised the importance of response to oiled wildlife, with a small search and collection exercise carried out by a group of volunteers. Volunteers participating in the exercise received a shortened version of the Basic Responder Course in a tent on the beach of the island of Schiermonnikoog. Their hands-on training included oiled bird capture techniques using dummies and Roboduck.

The exercise included search and collection of dummies along a wide stretch of beach, using four wheel drive vehicles and tested a number of assumptions around the use of the vehicles and the logistics of collection and field stabilization, giving a better picture of what is likely to work best under local conditions.

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