When a spill happens, our immediate actions are usually geared towards operational practices to prevent contaminants from spreading. Although containment and recovery are both vitally important, no part of a spill response outweighs another. Wildlife management on a response works hand in hand with operations to protect all receptors and ensure the best possible outcome for the project.
A summary of Post Release Wildlife Management considerations is provided below.
Part of wildlife management on a spill is complying with federal and provincial regulations. Every spill site is different based on the ecology, species, and habitat present at the site. Engaging a wildlife expert at the beginning of a response will help you navigate both the legal requirements and the skills required to manage impacted wildlife efficiently and in accordance with the specific regulatory framework. Some components of wildlife management may be immediately implemented by first responders without specific federal or provincial permits, including setting up deterrents and wildlife/amphibian fencing. However, wildlife collection, handling, relocation, rehabilitation, and long-term planning must be completed by a trained wildlife biologist operating under federal and provincial regulatory requirements and permits. Federal jurisdiction may include migratory birds, fish, and species at risk. Provincial jurisdictions and governing bodies vary from province to province but generally include water resources and general wildlife. Wildlife reporting requirements also vary based on province and jurisdiction. If you encounter impacted wildlife, report it to the site biologist and/or local Fish and Wildlife Officers. In Alberta, most provincial permits can be obtained by contacting the Alberta Environment and Parks and Alberta Energy Regulator. Local Fish and Wildlife Officers will also help in providing direction and navigating additional area requirements including engaging wildlife rehabilitation centers. Spills in Saskatchewan are generally regulated through the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Energy and Resources. The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change manages British Columbia spill requirements through the Emergency Management British Columbia.
A spill can affect wildlife no matter what type of environment it occurs in and what the contaminant is. When we think of the effect of spills on wildlife, the most common picture is that of an oiled bird. We overlook what we can’t see. For example, an oil emulsion spill (containing both produced water and oil) may not have immediate significant effects to large mammals and birds, but the cost to amphibians and reptiles is imminent and critical as they absorb these contaminants through their skin. So, what can you do to help wildlife if you are the first responder to a spill site?
Although we cannot alleviate all impacts on the environment from our activities, we can be proactive in our approach. Successfully mitigating a spill is based on everyone involved working together to achieve the end goal of minimizing the spill damage. Operations, wildlife biologists, equipment operators, technical specialist, government regulators, etc. who work together, in a unified command structure, have the greatest chance at success.
Ridgeline Response has you covered in all aspects of spill response. Our trained responders, wildlife and aquatic experts (along with our wildlife trailer) work in an integrated manner to clean up spills and manage wildlife from emergency response all the way through to reclamation and restoration. This holistic approach to Spill Response is also integrated into our Emergency Spill Preparedness Program.
This blog has been created by Sherree Dallyn, P.Biol, R.P.Bio., QAES, QWSP, Senior Project Scientist and Biologist at Ridgeline Canada Inc. Sherree hold professional designation in biology and ecology in both Canada and the United States. Sherree currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists. She Has extensive experience working on spills throughout North America and is a trainer for wildlife and low impact spill response methods.
For additional information regarding wildlife management and Ridgeline Response services in general, feel free to visit our website or contact us directly, we would be pleased to talk with you.