Birds treated after car accident causes oil spill in Lake Omaha

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – A car crash on Wednesday led to dozens of birds being treated by Nebraska Wildlife Rehab.

“Something fell off the truck that had mineral oil in it and unfortunately the mineral oil fell into the storm drains and that storm water is flowing into Lakeside Lake,” says Laura Stastny of Nebraska Wildlife Rehab.

The organization has been asked to take care of the wildlife affected around the lake by the company cleaning up the spill.

“We’re here to catch those affected by the oil spill and bring them back to our wildlife center here in Omaha,” Stastny says.

“He’s oiled quite a few, probably two to three dozen ducks and geese and there’s still oil on the lake which is being cleaned up at the moment so there’s always the danger of new ducks and geese become contaminated until the entire area has been cleaned. »

The birds will be washed several times and treated for other injuries before being released. Stastny says it’s not an easy process.

“Washing the birds is a multi-step process and it could take weeks to get all the oil out of them.”

She says there are pros and cons when it comes to mineral oil. It’s much less toxic than other types of oil, which means birds don’t get as sick as they would with petroleum oils.

However, this makes the birds more difficult to catch, she says, as they are still relatively healthy and able to move quickly.

“So what we’re saying is if you’ve ever heard of a wild goose hunt, that’s what our staff does here at Lakeside,” Stastny jokes.

“We love geese and ducks and like to take care of them as best we can,” says Tim Balvanz.

Balvanz and his wife live nearby and often travel the trail to feed the birds.

“We weren’t aware of it, but once I got down and started talking to them, I could smell the oil and stuff.”

The spill is being cleaned up, but it could take several weeks. So far, Nebraska Wildlife Rehab has captured 12 birds, but expects to process two to three dozen more.

“There will be hundreds of staff hours spent washing and maintaining the health of these birds before they can be released back into the wild.”

Most of the birds that surround the lake are wild, but there are domestic birds that have been abandoned. Stastny says domestic birds stay at Lakeside Lake year-round because it’s aerated, which means they always have access to water even in the winter.

However, after many years, this winter will be the first where the lake is not aerated. Stastny’s team was supposed to come to the lake this fall to capture the domestic birds and find them rescue farms or new homes because they can’t fly and can’t migrate to a new lake once Lakeside freezes over.

The oil spill gave them a head start on their plan.

For those who want to help Stastny and his team at the Nebraska Wildlife Rescue, donations can be made here and go directly to bird care.

They also tell neighbors who live nearby who see impacted birds not to chase them away. They say to only pick up birds if they are visibly sick and easy to approach. They can be dropped off at the wildlife center at 9777 M rue.

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