Health & Management / Managing Oiled Wildlife / List of hyperlinked Techniques & Protocols:
< > Preventing Oiling of Wildlife:
Click image for full page view with caption Click image for full page view with caption Click image for full page view with caption Click image for full page view with caption Click image for full page view with caption
Click here to return to Wildlife: Oil Spill Response CONTENTS

Introduction and General Information

The ideal way to prevent oiling of wildlife is to prevent oil spills, and other releases of man-made sources of petroleum products into the environment, from occurring in the first place. (B20.13.w10, D60.Intro.w12)

Accepting that oil spills will happen, it is important to take measures to minimise the damage caused by spilled oil. (D60.Intro.w12) This page is concerned with management options to prevent oiling of wildlife after a spill has taken place.

  • Information on assessment of the oil spill in relation to wildlife, in order to choose appropriate response options, is provided in: Oil Spill Assessment for Wildlife Response
  • Information on measures which individuals can take to avoid spilling oil into the environment is provided in Oil Spill Public Education - Oil Containment, Responsible Oil Disposal.
  • While rescue and rehabilitation of oiled wild animals can be very effective (J58.141.w1, J312.16.w1, P14.7.w18, P60.1.w1), not all wild animals which become oiled will be retrieved alive, not all retrieved oiled animals will survive cleaning and rehabilitation, and not all oiled, rehabilitated and released animals will survive after release. (D10, D12). Prevention of oiling is preferable to rescue and rehabilitation of oiled wildlife when possible. (D10, D12, P62.1.w1)
  • Preventing wildlife from being contaminated by spilled oil may involve a series of measures, such as hazing or pre-emptive capture, as well as removal of spilled oil from the environment. (D10, D183.w5)
  • For birds, the principle impact of oil occurs while the oil is on the water, before it comes ashore. Therefore if measures are to be put in place to protect birds it is essential that these be instigated rapidly, within a few hours. (D10)
  • Within response plans there should be decisions on priority areas for protection, based on the desirability of protection of particular resources and the practicality of protecting the areas. (D60.2.w2) Further information is provided in: Oil Spill Contingency Planning - Sections of the Wildlife Response Contingency Plan
  • In the event of a spill, decisions will have to be made based not only on pre-recognised priority areas but also on practicalities: whether or not it is possible to protect an area, and allowing for if priority areas have already been impacted. (D60.2.w2)
    • In the UK, the Environment Group (if one is set up) is responsible for providing data to inform operations, including "information on the distribution and seasonal status of all wildlife" as well as information on fish spawning areas, fisheries, water abstractions etc. (D134)


Oil spills should be reported to the appropriate authorities: 

In the UK:

  • Inland and freshwater spills should be reported to the Environment Agency (24-hour Emergency Hotline Number 0800 807060).
  • Marine spills should be reported to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The Coastguard can be contacted by dialling the Emergency Services: 999.
  • Spills in ports and harbours should be reported to the relevant port or harbour authority. For the Port of London this is the Port of London Authority. If the person making the report does not know the contact number for the port or harbour, they should contact the Coastguard by dialling 999.

In the USA:

  • Spills should be reported to the National Response Center (1-800- 424-8802).
Published Guidelines linked in Wildpro

Return to top of page


Booms are used in oil spill response to contain oil and/or to deflect it from sensitive sites. 


  • Booms are floating barriers designed for the removal or deflection of oil from sensitive areas of water. (D188, D192)
  • A boom needs to be flexible, allowing it to conform to wave motion, but sufficiently rigid to maximise its ability to contain oil. (D192)
  • Booms, while varying considerably in designs, incorporate a flotation component, either air or a buoyant material, a longitudinal tension chain or wire to withstand the effects of wind wave and current acting on the boom, a freeboard to prevent/reduce splashover and a sub-surface skirt to prevent/reduce oil escaping under the boom. (D192)
  • Curtain booms are supported by a flotation chamber, usually circular in cross-section, and provide a continuous sub-surface skirt or flexible screen. (D188, D192)
    • These booms have to be inflated and are therefore slower to deploy than are fence booms, and require regular maintenance. (D188)
    • These booms are probably the most effective for oil containment due to their underwater shape and their wave following characteristics. (D188)
    • Skirted booms for inshore use are made in short sections and it is essential to ensure that the connectors are compatible. (D188)
    • Booms for inshore use may be made from polyurethane-coated fabric while those for open waters are made of heavier neoprene coated fabric. (D188)
  • Fence booms are flatter in cross section and are held vertical in the water by their integral buoyancy. (D192) and by ballast weights attached to the base. (D188)
  • Shore sealing booms consist of an air-filled tube above two tandem water-filled tubes, in a cloverleaf pattern. They are used to form a seal at the water/shore interface, creating a barrier in the intertidal area. (D188)
  • Bracing struts and integral ballast may be incorporated into booms to keep them vertical in the water. (D192)
  • Towing and anchoring points are incorporated, also couplings for joining sections of booms. (D192)
  • Booms must be properly retrieved, cleaned, maintained and stored in order to maximise their useful life and ensure they are ready for use at short notice. (D192)
  • Different designs vary in their ease of deployment, storage space required, oil escape velocity, resistance to damage, surface following ability, ease of deployment, ease of cleaning, and whether they are best deployed towed or moored. (D192)


Booms may be used either towed or moored.

  • Towed booms generally use two vessels to tow the boom in a "U", "V" or "J" configuration. In the "J" configuration the vessel on the short end of the boom may act also as a collection vessel while with the "U" or "V" configurations a third vessel may be used to collect oil at the apex of the "U" or "V". (D192)
    • Vessels used for towing booms must have high manoeuverability at low speeds and must have sufficient power to tow the boom. (D192)
  • Moored booms may be used to contain spilled oil close to the source (e.g. a leaking tanker) but this is generally practical only in exceptional circumstances. (D192)
    • Spills generally occur where waters are too exposed and currents too strong. (D192)
    • Oil contained near the source may present an additional fire risk. (D192)
    • Use of booms is inappropriate if the oil would dissipate naturally if left alone and not collected in this way. (D192)
  • Moored booms are used more commonly to protect sensitive areas by keeping oil away from them. Such areas may be an estuary, marsh, water inlet or amenity area. (D192)
  • By deploying a moored boom at an oblique angle to the direction of flow in a water channel it is possible to contain oil at higher water flow speeds. (D192)
    • Angling the boom relative to the direction of current flow reduces the current velocity at right angles to the boom; longer total boom lengths are required. This may be effective at up to six knots, but at higher speeds the length required and the number of anchors needed are excessive or impossible. (D188)
  • Planning is required to identify sites where protection by booms can be carried out effectively and to prioritise such area. (D192)
    • N.B. If oil is to be diverted in order to prevent contamination of wildlife, it is necessary to identify sensitive areas and habitats before the spill occurs. (D60.1.w1)
    • Key factors in selecting a boom for a particular location include the width of the area to be boomed, current and tidal flow, wind and waves, the composition of the river or sea bed and the depth of the water. (D188)
    • Validation, by actual boom deployment, is important and allows for amendments. (D188)
    • If plan preparation and validation shows that it is not possible to satisfactorily deploy booms to protect a particular area, the work done and reasons why booms cannot be deployed should be recorded. This avoids wasting time and resources trying to boom the area in the event of a spill and can be used to explain to interested parties (e.g. local government, pressure groups) why this activity is not being carried out. (D188)
Limitations of Booms
  • There are limitations to the use of booms; currents, tides, wind, waves and the spread of floating oil all cause problems in effective use of booms. (D192)
  • Booms cannot contain oil if the water velocity acting at right angles to the boom is in excess of about 1 knot (0.5 metres per second), with most beginning to fail in oil containment at a velocity of about 0.7 knots (0.35 metres per second). Wind and waves add to the total water velocity. Turbulence also may induce oil escape. (D192)
    • Oil collects in a wedge at the boom cusp; as current speeds increases the leading edge of the oil wedge is pushed towards the boom and may be pushed under the boom. At a speed of 1.5 knots at right angles to the boom all the oil may be lost. (D188)
    • Note: Booms can be used for oil diversion and collection on fast flowing rivers; greater effort is required than in areas where such currents are not present. Bank-to-bank, bank-to-bridge or bank-to-buoy rope systems may be used. Multiple short sections (50 to 100 ft, i.e. 15 to 30 metre, sections) of boom of diameter no greater than 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) may be required, deployed at small angles to the current. (P63.2004.w1)
  • N.B. along the River Thames (London, UK), booms may be useable only in very limited circumstances, due to the speed of water movement, which can reach three to four, or even five, knots. (V.w76)
Associated techniques linked from Wildpro --

Return to top of page

Removal of Spilled Oil from the Environment

When oil is spilled, actions should be taken to remove it from the environment as quickly as possible. (B20.13.w10)

Removal of spilled oil from the environment, particularly from water and shorelines, is not simple and no one method or plan of action is applicable in all circumstances. The type of oil, the location of the spill, time of year, weather conditions etc. may all affect the feasibility of oil clean-up and whether such clean-up is beneficial or indeed necessary.

  • Spills of highly volatile petroleum oils may rapidly dissipate, mainly by evaporation, and no clean-up is required. (W469.Oct03.w1)
  • In some habitat types, and/or if inappropriate techniques are used, clean-up methods may be more harmful than the oil itself. (D193)
  • Removal of oil includes removal of oiled debris, including contaminated carcasses of fish and of other oiled wildlife. (D216.5.w5)
  • Sometimes what is best in order to reduce oiling of birds may conflict with what is best for other fauna and flora affected by the oil. (D193)

Note: Oil on water may be much more hazardous for aquatic birds than oil which has reached the shoreline. (D10)

Removing oil from water

Removal of spilled oil from water may involve use of booms to collect oil which can then be pumped away, skimmers of various types, or sorbents which can be placed on oil and then recovered. (D216.2.w2)

Dispersants (dispersing agents) can also be used to remove oil from the surface of water. Dispersants break oil into small droplets which disperse into the water column. (D216.3.w3)

  • Dispersants may themselves be toxic to aquatic organisms, although modern dispersants are considerably less toxic than those used historically. (D216.3.w3)
  • Dispersants, being surfactants, and dispersant-oil mixtures, may cause as much damage to the waterproofing and insulation functions of plumage as oil itself does, or even more. (J52.20.w1, J53.29.w1, J316.86.w1)
  • Note: In the UK, "using materials to emulsify or disperse oil on inland waters is an offence." (W39.21Jun05.w1)

In-situ burning of oil, the ignition and controlled combustion of oil, may be useful for oil clean-up in some circumstances. It may be used in conjunction with fire-resistant booms, which are used to collect the oil and concentrate it into a sufficiently thick slick for burning. (D216.3.w3)

  • In-situ burning requires wind speeds under 23 mph, waves less than three feet in height, an oil slick of at least two to three millimetres thickness (depending on oil type), less than 30% evaporative loss of the spilled oil and emulsification of less than 25% water content. (D216.3.w3)
  • In-situ burning releases pollutants into the air and careful monitoring of air quality is required; burning is terminated if particulate levels near populations rise too high. (D216.3.w3)
  • In-situ burning requires use of intense heat sources and is recognised to involve a particular danger for oil spill response personnel. (D216.3.w3)
  • In-situ burning is rarely used on marine spills due to concerns about atmospheric emissions, as well as uncertainties regarding human and environmental health impacts. (D216.3.w3)

Bioremediation, either biostimulation (addition of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus to stimulate growth of microorganisms which are able to break down oil), or bioaugmentation (seeding of an area with microorganisms known to break down oil) may be used to increase the rate of oil biodegradation. (D216.3.w3)

Removing oil from the shoreline

  • Techniques used to remove oil from shorelines generally involve various physical methods including wiping surfaces with adsorbent materials, pressure washing, raking, bulldozing etc. (D216.4.w4)
    • Removal of oiled debris, including oiled wildlife and fish carcasses, is a part of shoreline cleanup. (D216.5.w5)
  • In-situ burning may be used for shoreline cleaning in some circumstances. (D216.3.w3)
  • Bioremediation may be used in shoreline cleaning. (D216.3.w3)
  • Further information on the use of different cleaning methods on different types of shorelines is provided in: The River Thames, Habitats and Oiling
Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

Return to top of page


In some circumstances it may be possible to use scaring (hazing) devices to discouraged birds from using an area known to be polluted with oil. Careful consideration needs to be given to the use of such techniques and assessment that they have the anticipated effect on a population. (B20.13.w10, B36.42.w42, B363.Intro.w21, D60.1.w1, D216.5.w5)

  • Hazing techniques have been developed mainly to disperse or exclude wild birds from certain areas, in order to protect crops and fish-rearing facilities from depredations by birds, and to keep birds away from airports in order to prevent bird-plane collisions. (B363.Intro.w21)
  • Hazing has also been used or attempted in some disease control operations. It is considered most appropriate for use in localised non-infectious disease situations such as localised toxicity problems. (B127.12.w12)
  • N.B.
    • NO ATTEMPT should be made to disperse birds which are already oiled. (D135.3.w3, D160.3.w3)
    • Care must be taken to avoid inadvertently causing oiled animals to scatter, or to encourage non-oiled individuals to move into the oiled area. (D183.w6)

General considerations for hazing in oil spill situations (D211.AppIIIc.w12):

  • Current location and predicted extent of the spill. Identification of impacted resources, areas over which exclusion of wildlife by hazing are and might soon be required, probable requirements of equipment and personnel to cover the affected area.
  • Identification of wildlife areas. Priority targets for hazing operations are high use areas which are impacted or highly threatened by oil, such as marshes, sheltered bays, tidal mudflats, offshore rocks and islands. Local experts should be consulted regarding the important high use areas.
  • Alternate site availability. It is important to consider where hazed birds can move to. It is easier, in general, to move birds if there is another site for them to move to which is attractive to them. It may be possible to make other sites more attractive temporarily by limiting human access. If other attractive locations are also oiled, deterrence from these areas will be required.
  • Identity of species present. This is important to determine the type of hazing equipment to use, since different species respond differently and techniques which are effective with some species may be ineffective or even counterproductive with other species. 
  • Safety considerations. Pyrotechnics, propane cannon and mixed noise generators (Breco Buoy, Phoenix Wailer) may present a fire/explosion risk in the presence of flammable substances or oxidisers. Risks to the eyes and ears of the operators, and risks to the ears of other personnel nearby must also be considered and appropriate personal protective equipment must be used. 
  • Weather conditions. Inclement weather may affect the effectiveness and effective range of various hazing methods, operation of hazing equipment, and human safety. It may be difficult to disperse birds from sheltered areas in bad weather. Weather conditions will also affect the movement of the spill. 
  • Season and activities of species present. In general, migratory birds are easier to disperse from an area than are breeding birds which are in their breeding area/colony. Moult may also affect hazing, since some species (e.g. waterfowl) cannot fly for a period while moulting the flight feathers, and may, if hazed, move onto water for safety - which is counterproductive if the water is contaminated with oil. 
  • Limits of coverage. It is generally impractical, due to limitations in availability of equipment and personnel, to haze over an area bigger than about seven to 10 miles length/diameter.
  • Continuity. Ideally continuous and equal hazing effort is required over all areas which are contaminated, to avoid hazing pushing birds into another oiled area. This is more difficult to achieve when large areas are affected.
  • Flexibility. It is important to remember that every spill is unique; plans for hazing must be modified to fit the actual situation. 


Before hazing operations are started the potential negative impacts of such operations must be considered. (D135.3.w3)

  • The health of wild birds may be compromised if they are hazed away from staging or feeding areas without suitable alternative sites being available. (D135.3.w3)
  • If hazing is used in the reproductive season then the potential effects on reproduction must be considered; disturbance of breeding areas should be avoided. (D135.3.w3)
  • Stress caused by hazing birds away from known feeding grounds or resting areas may be particularly detrimental to birds already under the stresses of migration or a hard winter. (D10, V.w74)
  • Sensitive habitats and species may be adversely affected by human activity and disturbance. (D135.3.w3, D160.3.w3)
  • Crushing of fragile vegetation by either humans on foot or off-road vehicles should be avoided or minimised. (D135.3.w3)
  • Boat operations should be carried out with care to minimise production of wakes which may force surface oil into marshes thus increasing the size of the contaminated area. (D135.3.w3)
  • The potential hazard of igniting either vegetation or spilled oil if using propane exploders or pyrotechnic devices must be considered and avoided. (D135.3.w3, D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • Misdirected hazing could accidentally move wildlife into oiled areas. (D216.5.w5)
  • Consideration must be given to the risk of hazing birds from shores such as tidal marshes where an oil slick is approaching, into the water and therefore into the oil. (D10)
  • The safety of workers must be considered. (D160.3.w3)

If hazing is to be used:

  • It must be planned. (D183.w6)
  • The plan should make use of input from personnel who are familiar with the local habitats and species, the topography of the area, and various hazing techniques. (D183.w6)
  • Consideration should be given to the availability of alternative habitat. (B127.12.w12, D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • Personnel involved should have general training in bird deterrence/hazing as well as specific training for use of e.g. firearms and pyrotechnics. (D160.2.w2)
For maximum effectiveness hazing should be:
  • Started as soon as possible, to minimise contact of birds with the oil (D10) and to prevent birds from establishing or continuing regular patterns of use of contaminated areas. (D135.3.w3)
  • Operational 24 hours a day for several days. (D12
    • In particular, offshore deterrents should be operational at night when there is limited deterrence associated with human movements during spill response. (D10)
  • Operational under varying weather conditions including wind, rain and fog. (D12)
  • Be able to move as an oil slick moves, to stay with the slick. (D12)
  • Be effective at scaring away the right species of birds. (D12)

Note: Hazing is more likely to be effective if there is attractive alternative habitat nearby for the dispersed animals to move to. (B127.12.w12, D211.AppIIIc.w12)

Types of hazing:

Types of hazing which may be used, singly or more usually in combination, include a variety of sound generators, pyrotechnics, visual barriers such as tape and balloons, presence of humans or effigies, boats, aircraft and other vehicles. (B363.Intro.w21, D9, D10, D135.3.w3, D183.w6, D210.4.w4, D216.5.w5)

  • Passive techniques include Mylar scare-eye balloons and Mylar tape. These may be fastened along a shoreline. (D9)
  • Active hazing techniques include use of propane cannons, cracker shells, audio-visual alarms, the Breco hazing unit, other noise-makers and vehicles including boats and aircraft. (D9)
  • Deployment of different hazing techniques may be affected by factors such as the location of the spill, the size of the spill and the time of day. (D10)
    • In bad weather, at night, or if staff are limited, automated devices, requiring only daily (or less frequent) checks may be most appropriate. (D160.3.w3)
  • Note: general oil spill cleanup activities may have a deterrent effect during the time when people are active in the area. (D216.5.w5)

Limitations of hazing:

  • In order to minimise habituation to deterrent devices different hazing methods should be combined, the type, location and timing of deterrent devices should be changed frequently, and devices should be reinforced by human patrols when possible. (D135.3.w3, D160.3.w3)
  • It must be acknowledged that deterrents can be expensive, are not always effective, are not always logistically feasible, and require well trained personnel for effective deployment. (D10)
  • Hazing is most effective if it is possible to employ deterrence over the whole oiled area "as continuously as possible." (D160.3.w3)
  • Hazing generally works best in small, well-defined areas (e.g. small bays, harbours, inlets) where a variety of scaring devices can be used to surround the spill. (D183.w6)
    • Noises and visual deterrents are most effective in small, well-defines areas. (D216.5.w5)
    • Most hazing activities are unlikely to be effective for areas more than about 10 km (seven miles) in length/diameter. (D160.3.w3)
    • For large spills on water, devices used need to be highly mobile and able to affect large areas (e.g. sound-emitting buoys). (D160.3.w3)
  • Generally, hazing should not be started if it will not be possible to maintain the operation for the required length of time. (D160.3.w3)
  • It is important to ensure that clean, non-oiled areas are available into which the hazed animals can move, and where they will then be left undisturbed. (D10, D183.w6, D160.3.w3)
    • Projected oil trajectories should be considered when identifying clean areas into which birds may be dispersed. (D160.3.w3)
    • It may be possible to make uncontaminated habitat more attractive, by limiting human activities in such location. (D160.3.w3)
  • Many deterrent techniques, developed to reduce bird depredations at aquaculture facilities, scare birds away after they have landed, not before, which would minimise their beneficial effect in oil spill hazing, since birds landing even once on oiled areas would become contaminated. (D210.4.w4)
  • Use of falconry may be effective in dispersing species such as shorebirds, gulls, terns and some waterfowl, which normally fly to avoid predators, but would not be effective for species which dive to avoid predators. (D210.4.w4)
    • Falconry is not recommended in oil spill situations due to the risks of the falconry bird becoming oiled and the risks of falconry driving birds into oil. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Use of sound-emitting hazing devices may be limited if they are unacceptable to local human residents. (D160.3.w3)
  • It is difficult to haze birds in moult and a combination of techniques is likely to be needed for such activities. (D160.3.w3)
  • Species which are commonly found in environments associated with humans and human activity may be less easy to haze, particularly if the deterrents chosen are similar to sights or sounds normally associated with that human environment. (D10, D160.3.w3, D215.w6)
  • Dead bird decoys or real dead bird carcasses, while sometimes used to discourage birds from using an area, are not recommended for use in oil spills, since they may attract predators/scavengers and potentially result in the oiling of those predators/scavengers. (D160.App3.w11)


  • Before any hazing operations are carried out it is important to ensure that:
    • Permits to haze or "harass" wildlife have been obtained, as required. (D135.3.w3)
    • Regulations have been followed and permits acquired for the purchase, possession and discharge of any firearms or explosives, including pyrotechnics launched by shotgun or pistol. (D135.3.w3)
  • Use of potentially dangerous deterrent devices must be carried out only by individuals with appropriate training and equipped with the appropriate eye and ear protection for the device being used. (D135.3.w3)
  • For obvious safety reasons, hazing techniques which may cause sparks should not be used in the first few hours of a spill in which high concentrations of volatile fraction of oil may be present (e.g. fuel spills). (D160.3.w3)
Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

Return to top of page


Birds may be attracted to locations not affected by a known contamination event by providing food. (B36.42.w42, D160.App3.w11)
  • Use of baiting requires provision of large quantities of feed (grain) over a period of several days. (D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11)
  • Baited areas need to be relatively close to the spill area so that the food will be detected, therefore there is a risk that bait areas will attract birds to the general area of the oil spill thus increasing the risk of oiling. (D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11)

This is not generally recommended for oil spills unless alternative techniques are expected to be ineffective. (D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11)

Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

Return to top of page

Precautionary capture

"Pre-emptive capture includes the capture, handling, transportation, short-term holding and release of healthy, uncontaminated birds." (D160.3.w3)

If practical, animals at risk may be captured and removed from the area threatened by oil before they become oiled. (D183.w5, D60.1.w1)

  • Note: before undertaking precautionary capture, it is necessary to develop a plan for the care of those animals, including all stages from collection and transportation through holding to release, and to identify the resources required to carry out those activities. (D183.w6, D216.5.w5)
  • Precautionary capture is only appropriate in strictly limited situations with a high threat of oiling. (B20.13.w10, D160.3.w3, D183.w6, D216.5.w5)
  • To be effective, pre-emptive capture needs to be undertaken immediately. (D60.1.w1)
  • It is important to recognise that preemptive capture, handling, transportation, care and release of unoiled wildlife is both labour-intensive and equipment-intensive. (D216.5.w5)
  • Permits may be required for capture of healthy animals in order to remove them from imminent danger; special permission may be needed if endangered or threatened species are to be captured. (D160.3.w3)
  • Precautionary capture may be attempted for species which are relatively easy to capture, or for endangered species/species of special concern. (D183.w6, D216.5.w5)
  • Precautionary capture is unlikely to be practical for birds with normal flight capability.
    • Sedentary or flightless (e.g. during moult) populations may need to be taken into temporary accommodation until clean-up operations have been completed, or possibly relocated. (B36.42.w42)
  • Pre-emptive capture techniques for birds may include methods used for bird banding, such as herding flightless birds (e.g. those in moult) into fenced areas, mist netting etc. (D160.3.w3)
    • Ducks and geese may be lured into a fenced area with a net roof by baiting it with grain or duck food pellets. (D135.4.w4)
  • Human health and safety and animal health and safety must be the primary concerns during preemptive capture operations. (D160.3.w3)
  • In order to maximise animal safety, stress must be minimised. This may be achieved by:
    • Ensuring that the required equipment is available for rapid and efficient handling and transportation;
    • Minimising the number of vehicles being used for herding and capturing in any one area;
    • Avoiding all unnecessary noise and disturbance;
    • Never pursuing animals to the point of exhaustion;
    • Minimising contact with the animals except for that required to provide necessary veterinary care.


Example of the use of precautionary capture:

  • Precautionary capture was used effectively in association with the Treasure oil spill in South Africa in 2000. About 19,500 penguins which had not been oiled were captured, transported 800 km to Cape Recife and released to swim back to the breeding sites. The beaches were cleaned during the time it took (as short as 11 days for the first arrivals) for the penguins to return. (B334.w1, B334.w3, P14.7.w14)
    • Relocation was more cost-effective than rehabilitation. (B334.w3)
    • Relocated penguins have minimal disruption in breeding and moulting, since they are away from the breeding colonies for a relatively short time compared with oiled rehabilitated birds. (B334.w3)
    • Relocated penguins returned to breeding more readily than did rehabilitated oiled birds. (B334.w3)
    • Only 241 birds died during transport. (B334.w1)
    • Mortality during the spill would probably have been considerably higher, due to overstretching of resources, if these penguins had not been relocated and had therefore become oiled and required cleaning and rehabilitation: this would have doubled the number of penguins in care from about 19,000 to nearly 40,000. (P14.7.w14)
    • Note on limitations of precautionary capture: spills are often first detected by the arrival of oiled birds on the beaches; precautionary capture and temporary relocation is likely to be used only for very large spills and commonly after large numbers of birds have already been oiled. (B334.w3)
Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

Return to top of page

Removal of oiled animals

  • Removal of both live and dead oiled animals from the environment reduces secondary oiling of other animals such as scavengers coming to feed on the carcasses. (D9, D159.III.w3, D160.4.w4, D183.w5, D216.5.w5)
Associated techniques linked from Wildpro

Return to top of page

Authors & Referees

Authors Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Dr Virginia Pierce (V.w73)

Return to top of page