Wildlife Center caring for duckling rescued from oil spill

A baby duckling is in stable, but guarded, condition at the Alabama Wildlife Center at Oak Mountain State Park after it was rescued from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The baby black-bellied whistling duck arrived at the Wildlife Center June 29 after it was rescued from a boom storage area by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service near Pascagoula, Miss.

When Fish and Wildlife crews discovered the 3-to-5-day-old duckling, it was separated from its parents and not developed enough to survive on its own.

After the duck arrived at the Alabama Wildlife Center, wildlife crews performed a complete examination on the 22-ounce duckling.

Crews discovered the duckling was scared, dehydrated and hungry, said Alabama Wildlife Center Executive Director Beth Bloomfield.

“He’s doing a little better today. We have him listed in stable, but guarded, condition right now,” Bloomfield said July 1. “When we get animals like this, we do an exam on them and try to hydrate them.

“Then we try to get them warm,” she added. “We have been keeping him in an incubator and giving him swim time every day. We want to make sure he is developed enough to survive on his own when he is ready to be released.”

Wildlife Center crews will care for and raise the duckling for about two months before the animal is ready to be released into the wild.

Because the Gulf of Mexico will likely be affected by the recent oil spill for several years, Bloomfield said the Wildlife Center likely will have to release the duck hundreds of miles from where crews discovered it.

“We are probably going to need to get him to the coast of Texas, I would imagine,” Bloomfield said. “We don’t want to release him into the same environment we found him in.”

Bloomfield said the Wildlife Center is expecting to treat many more animals rescued from the Gulf of Mexico as the oil spill continues.

“We do absolutely expect to get more animals from the oil spill,” she said.

To learn how to help the center care for animals rescued from the oil spill, and to download a complete list of items the center needs to care for the duckling and other animals, visit Awrc.org.