Scientist: Just Kill Oil-Soaked Birds

Fowl in path of spill will die painful deaths anyway, expert says
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2010 2:49 PM CDT
Oil-covered Brown Pelican chicks stand in contrast to clean chicks on Cat Island, La. Sunday, June 6, 2010. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill continued to move inland along several gulf states.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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(Newser) – As oil drenches untold numbers of birds in the Gulf of Mexico, one scientist has a message for those rushing to clean and release them: You'd do better to just kill them. "According to serious studies, the middle-term survival rate of oil-soaked birds is under 1 percent," a German biologist tells der Spiegel, emphasizing that cleaned and released birds often die a more painful death within days.

Some prominent experts back her: A British study in the wake of a 2002 spill found the median lifespan of a cleaned bird was 7 days. "Birds, those that have been covered in oil and can still be caught, can no longer be helped," says the World Wildlife Federation, adding that the organization is "very reluctant to recommend cleaning."

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