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October 4, 2007

$1.8 million avian oil spill response facility opens in Awendaw

A long-awaited milestone was realized Oct. 3 as staff and volunteers at the International Center for Birds of Prey transferred birds into the Center’s newly constructed medical clinic in Awendaw. The move signals an expansion of the Center’s conservation outreach from primarily raptors to all types of birds in crisis. The Avian Medical Center & Oiled Bird Treatment Facility is an expansion of the Center’s existing medical and research initiatives and is designed and equipped to treat thousands of birds during an oil spill.

The facility was funded by a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Funds for the project were collected as a result of litigationRedtailed Hawk stemming from an oil spill incident off the coast of Charleston in 1999. DNR, on behalf of the Natural Resource Trustees, (consisting of DNR, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the S.C. Office of the Governor) signed a contract with the Center to construct the oil spill response facility.

Call the International Center for Birds of Prey at (843) 928-3494 for more information.

Center Executive Director Jim Elliott, staff members and a host of volunteers are carefully transferring injured birds from the original facility located on Elliott’s property to the new state-of-the art facility. Nearly 400 hawks, eagles, owls, falcons and other birds of prey are admitted to the Center’s Medical Clinic each year. The majority of injuries are due to some type of human interaction.

All Center programs, including the research, educational, field study and training will be located at the beautiful 152 acre wooded site in Awendaw off Seewee Road when the move is complete. Formal dedication of the Center will take place later this fall.

The Avian Conservation Center/International Center for Birds of Prey:

A Norwegian shipping company pleaded guilty back in 2003 for the January 1999 spilling of nearly 24,000 gallons of fuel oil from the cargo ship "Star Evviva" around 30 to 50 miles off the coast of Charleston. The release is considered the largest offshore oil spill in the history of South Carolina.
More than 190 birds, mostly loons, washed ashore from Folly Beach to Topsail Beach, N.C., as the "Star Evviva" made its way from Savannah, Ga., to Baltimore, Md. Total bird loss is unknown, but only 6 survived out of possibly hundreds of oiled birds.

A federal judge sentenced Billabong II ANS shipping line in 2003 to a criminal fine of $200,000 and ordered payment of an additional $300,000 to a wildlife fund. The company, in a separate civil consent order, also agreed to pay $2 million for the environmental cleanup. You can read the (PDF required) Final Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan/ Environmental Assessment.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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