How contamination affects wildlife

Effects on wildlife

 

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Contamination affects wildlife far beyond the obvious external effects and different contaminants can cause different complications. As professional rehabilitators, we address both internal and external complications of contamination with every patient with a keen focus on the specific needs of the species.

External effects

The external effects of contamination are the most well known and sometimes the most debilitating. A contaminated feather has had its structure compromised. This can affect the birds natural waterproofing as well as prevent the bird from thermoregulating. Hypothermia can quickly become a concern for patients contaminated by oil products. The same is true for mammals where the fur acts to insulate the body from extreme temperatures.

Oiled feather on the left compared to a clean feather on the right

Often, a contaminated bird can no longer fly. When contaminated with natural substances like silt, the bird can take on an extreme amount of weight from the substance, preventing the bird from performing the most basic of activities.

 

Internal effects

Birds and other animals spend a large portion of their time preening or grooming. When contaminated, the animal will ingest the contaminant while trying to remove it. Some oil products can cause severe internal damage through both the toxic effects of the product as well as secondary complications. Frequently, a bird’s digestive track is directly damaged by the product which prevents the animal from properly absorbing water and nutrients.

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A patient is given fluids to help stabilize it

A quick response is vital in these instances. By treating the internal effects we can help prevent weight loss, the immune system becoming compromised, and internal infection that would otherwise be likely to follow the contamination.

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