Before there were cities, there was wildlife. Before humans, there were animals. Before even being able to picture a skyscraper, there were birds flying high in the sky and beautiful sunny days meant to help nature grow as healthy as it could.
Building big cities is not something mankind plans to do every day, it sorts of happens in time. Most urban areas in the world tend to cover the land and modify nature, sometimes relocating it and some other times simply devouring it. In Santa Barbara, nature was resized, reshaped and restructured in a way parks could be located from the Pacific Ocean to the Santa Ynez Mountains, providing opportunities for wildlife to coexist with humans.
Santa Barbara has taken some big steps to understand that cities should not be a barrier for wildlife but an open space for biodiversity. Thanks to this idea in City plant and wetland communities habitats for many wildlife species have been created, opening areas where they can freely roost, forage and breed. The creation of this open spaces wouldn’t have been possible if community members and non-profit organizations hadn’t taken action.
In this article, Kenny Slaught will talk about The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, is an entity dedicated to creating awareness around wildlife and helping citizens understand what means for the city to build spaces where humans and wild animals can coexist.
Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network
In Santa Barbara, there are different parks working as sanctuaries or refuges that provide citizens the chance to appreciate wildlife. Parks next to creeks give people the opportunity to do some birdwatching and even shoreline parks allow visitors to do whale watching. Santa Barbara is, in other words, a city where a balance between wildlife and human life can actually exist. However, there is still a huge room for improvement, and there are many things that haven’t been done yet. For this reason, organizations such as the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network have been created.
The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network operates as a not for profit organization, exclusively based on volunteer work. It rescues, rehabilitates and returns to the wild, injured, sick and/or orphaned animals (birds, mammals and, reptile) in the entire Santa Barbara County. Helping wildlife continues its natural course.
This nonprofit is solely supported by grants and volunteers that help thousands of animals every year and is licensed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, working for oil-impaired animals and educating citizens to live in harmony with the county’s wildlife.
The organization aims to support the present of wildlife and secure its adequate permanence in the future. For this, it is responsible for providing the proper treatment, medication, rescue services, and rehabilitation to wildlife that has been displaced, oiled or injured in any way.
Educating Santa Barbara
For the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, education is the best way of taking action to solve wildlife’s most pressing issues in the County. Due to this idea, the organization’s Outreach Committee often meets and develops plans and opens spaces where the general public can learn about the true needs of wildlife, the challenges faced by it in the region (especially related to oil) and the best and most effective ways of helping it survive and healthily grow. Since the organization is based on volunteer work, it is important for it to train individuals on optimal methods to care, treat, rehabilitate and release wild species. This allows the community to be more involved with environmental issues currently affecting the County.
Presenting the organization in public school as well as in groups, clubs, and senior living centers is also a good strategy applied by the organization in order to create awareness around environmental issues related to wildlife.
The turmoil produced by oil in Santa Barbara
In Santa Barbara, oceans need to be healed since they are often contaminated with oil spills. Due to this situation, wildlife tends to be injured in very serious ways, having their natural habitats contaminated with such a toxic substance.
The ocean is home to most of the Santa Barbara County wildlife species. Any source of contamination can vastly affect the life of thousands of animals and do irreversible damage to the ecosystem. Sadly, pipelines located in the ocean accidentally break every couple years affecting wildlife not only in Santa Barbara but in the entire state of California. This situation leaves hundreds of birds, fish and mammals dying, that end up being trapped by the spilled oil.
When birds have contact with oil, their feathers tangle and lose their waterproofing, making it impossible for them to regulate their body heat, creating a situation where they can die from hypothermia. Other animals suffer when they ingest oil while trying to clean the substance of their fur. Every year, the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network takes care of hundreds of animals affected by oil spills, offering rehabilitation facilities and transportation for animals who need a more specialized treatment in order to survive.
Oil spills are extremely dangerous for the ecosystem, as well as poor environmental practices that can affect wildlife. For this reason, it is important for citizens in Santa Barbara, and any other city to be responsible for their actions. Creating conditions where animals can live with humans in a balanced way has become a vital issue, otherwise, we would all be condemned to die in an unsustainable world.