Environmentalist: Spill Will Disrupt Wildlife

Melanie Driscoll of the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, an environmental group, talks to Steve Inskeep about the potential impact the Gulf oil spill could have on birds in the region. The oil is especially disruptive for Gulf Coast wildlife including the brown pelican — which is the Louisiana state bird.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And, of course, this oil has disruptive for other Gulf Coast wildlife, including the brown pelican, which is the Louisiana State Bird.

Bird conservationist Melanie Driscoll is focusing on the pelican's coastal nests.

Ms. MELANIE DRISCOLL (Director, Bird Conservation, Louisiana Coastal Initiative): There could be catastrophic nest loss and a big dent in their productivity.

INSKEEP: Catastrophic nest loss for a bird that was just taken off the endangered species list a few years ago. Other birds could be affected too.

Driscoll directs Bird Conservative for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative.

Ms. DRISCOLL: A lot of birds have just begun to nest so they're on some of the outer coastal islands and out in the marshes breeding. And because they have nests they are more tied to a location, making it harder for them to avoid the oil or just move to a more inland habitat.

In addition, near tropical migrant birds and a lot of shore birds are sort of at the peak of their spring migration, so there are greater densities in numbers of birds flying across the Gulf of Mexico now, than would happen really at any other time in the year, except for fall migration.

INSKEEP: Driscoll says her organization is recruiting volunteers to help with animal rescue efforts.

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