Michael Ziccardi, director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, has been blogging from the Gulf of Mexico where he his helping organize cleanup efforts. In this post Ziccardi discusses the costs of saving wildlife from oil spills. Wildlife rescue is expensive — but it is only a fraction of the cost of a major oil spill, he writes. For example, wildlife rescue costs were only 5 percent of the total costs of the Exxon Valdez cleanup. But there’s more to it than that:
On a personal note (one that is difficult for me to verbalize), as a veterinarian I have taken an oath to minimize animal suffering whenever possible. I take this oath very seriously in both my personal as well as my professional life, and more recently have attempted to apply it to spill efforts by making responses as effective and smooth running as possible. This often takes me away from the hands-on medical care that I love (as well as leaving myself open to being labeled a “suit”) but I feel it allows me to make a greater impact by ensuring that the overall rehabilitation efforts are supported and run smoothly. At its core, to me this ultimately can help reduce the suffering that animals undergo during such human-caused events. So, to put a price tag on the value of such efforts, when the spiller is often very open to support this work, is, in a word, wrong.
So, how much is a turtle (or a bird, or a dolphin) worth? I think we each have differing estimate of this, but I can guarantee you that the value that animal places on itself is pretty darn high.