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The Marine Wildlife Care Center was dedicated February 21, 1997 to care for oiled seabirds in the event of a spill along California's North Coast. The center is a 4,500-square-foot facility on the Humboldt State University campus. It is part of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), a network of wildlife emergency response centers along the California coast, established by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), and administered by UC Davis. Funding for construction of the facility was provided by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (then Fish and Game) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The center covers the coast from Point Arena in Mendocino County to the Oregon border. The facility has rooms for triage, washing, drying, recovery, food preparation and operations management.
The center has been activated three times to care for oiled birds in 1997, 1999 and 2006. During non-emergencies, HSU maintains the facility and uses it for laboratories, classrooms and office space for its Wildlife program. In the event of an oil spill, the building is quickly transformed into a rescue center.
When the facility is activated, response personnel from the OWCN, International Bird Rescue and volunteers from the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center work with volunteers from HSU and the community to care for oiled birds. The Marine Wildlife Care Center is not designed to treat oiled marine mammals. If any marine mammals are impacted in a spill, they would be transported to Crescent City to the North Coast Marine Mammal Center.