Slide 1


Opening slide depicting each of the four modules


Welcome to the Pre-deployment Orientation Deepwater Horizon Spill Response Course.  The Course modules include:

1. Site Specific Incident Command - with orientation information

2. Gulf Trust Species and Habitat - with information about trust species you may encounter

3. Capture and Handling - with information on how to properly and safely handle birds

4. Evidence Collection - with information on how to properly tag and dispose of carcasses





Slide 2





Please ensure the computer you use to complete this course has printing capability, as this is currently the only way to save the certificate.




Slide 3




Our mission is to rescue oiled living wildlife and recover dead wildlife in a manner that protects our personal safety as well as the wildlife. Note that wildlife includes: birds, sea turtles, manatees, and other marine mammals and those species covered in Module 2 – trust species.  We also are tasked with Protecting Sensitive Lands.




Slide 4




The purpose of this course is to give you the information you need to serve as a member of the Wildlife Reconnaissance and Recovery group as you rescue oiled wildlife or the Resource Advisor (READ) group as you protect sensitive lands in the Gulf.


The course should take approximately 2 hours to complete. You will have opportunities to practice skills needed and there will be one assessment at the end of the course.




Slide 5


Introduction slide showing a bird looking out at the ocean from the shore


The first module is the site-specific incident command




Slide 6




The objectives for this module are to:

Describe the mission and structure of the ICS for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response
Define the Operational Plan
Identify personnel responsibilities
Select the appropriate forms
Describe the media contact policy
Identify the top safety hazards






Slide 7




There are three online courses that all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees
deployed to the oil spill are required to take. They are known as ICS-100, ICS-700, and the BP 4-hour training. These courses provide an introduction to the Incident Command System and how it works. You should have taken these courses before beginning this course.


If you have not completed or do not have certificates for any of these courses, please see NCTC's Oil Spill Response website.



Supervisors who deploy are required to take the same three courses as well as IS-200.


Those who are doing Field Work are required to take ICS-100, ICS-700, the BP 4-hour training, and the 24 hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) certification course.


If you have not completed or do not have certificates for any of these courses, please see NCTC's Oil Spill Response website.





Slide 8




  Incident response was divided into 4 Sectors, but as our response is winding down, we are currently only in Mobile (physically in Daphne) and New Orleans.

  The UAC – Unified Area Command is in New Orleans

  Under New Orleans, the command structure contains – the General Staff: Financial, Logistics, Operations, Planning; Mobile only contains the Sensitive Lands group at this point.

  Operations have 3 focuses/Branches: Offshore, Shoreline, and Wildlife

  OffShore – Those who stopped the leak

  Shoreline – Oil clean-up crews

  Wildlife – This is where we work! 

  Wildlife is so big that it has its own FLOP

  Most of you will be under Operations working on Sensitive Lands and bird recovery efforts

  JIC – Joint Information Command – coordinates all public Media activities, located in New Orleans and Mobile

Within each subsector are a number of teams.  For this incident, mainly 2 person teams.




Slide 9




Our partners in the effort are State agencies, other Federal agencies, Non-governmental organizations, colleges and universities, and contractors.


Teams are formed for recovery. This consists of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Team, Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Techniques Team, Wildlife Recovery and Reconnaissance and Sensitive Lands/Resource Advisors (READs)





Slide 10




Employees deployed to the gulf will be a member of one of several different groups.  You may encounter other employees performing tasks under different teams. For example, members of the Sensitive Lands/Resource Advisors, or READS, main duty is to protect sensitive lands.  They are not handling oiled wildlife; rather, their main function is to make sure those performing land- and sea-based operations stay clear of any trust species and their habitat, unless those species are being collected by the Wildlife Reconnaissance and Recovery group.  We’ll cover some of those species and their habitat in Module 2, when we discuss Gulf trust species.


The Wildlife Reconnaissance and Recovery group collect and transport live, oiled, wildlife and dead wildlife (which may or may not be oiled, and may or may not be used as evidence).


The Stabilization and Rehabilitation group is the group that cleans the oiled birds.  Cleaning oiled birds is beyond the scope of this course.  Your current mission is akin to first responders evaluating and potentially bringing patients to the hospital.  Once there, you let the “doctors” treat the “patients.”


The Natural Resource Damage Assessment team (or NRDA), collect data to determine the injury to migratory birds and other resources, resulting from the oil spill.


Slide 11




The primary purpose of the Operational Plan is to serve as the central communication tool at an incident. 


It is a good idea to obtain a copy of the Operational Plan upon arrival and at least every few days as it contains information vital to your operations while deployed and should be available at all times because of the potential need for emergency numbers.


The Operational Plan is printed every two days for wildlife recovery and sensitive lands in Mobile.  New Orleans’ is printed daily.  The Operational Plan includes the weather forecast, safety messages, and general assignments. It includes a wealth of information and lists. Important safety information is on the back of the first page; there is a different safety topic in each new version of the Operational Plan.



Please recycle old Operational Plans in the recycle box at your deployment site. Do not take any of the papers, notes, or paperwork and throw them away in your hotel room trash. These are collected as part of evidence for BP.




Slide 12




For your immediate responsibilities, you will need to know the name of your point of contact, what you will be doing, and where you will be staying. You also need to know what paperwork to fill out at the end of the day.

Your point of contact should be on your
Resource Order. If the name does not appear, report to Operations. If you do not know what you are going to be doing or where you are supposed to go, Operations can help.

If you don’t already have lodging arrangements, they will be made for you after you get to your final location.




Slide 13


Daily Responsibilities Interaction


The steps for Timekeeping are:

Complete your Crew Time Report (CTR) daily

6-hour increments

30-minute required breaks

More than 16-hours requires prior approval

Must be signed by your supervisor

Done in military time

Still do time reporting with home station



The ICS 214 is done every day.  Be sure to include your “O” number.   You sign it, even if yours is one of several names.  Turn in as often as possible.  You can do multiple days on one form.  Be as detailed as seems appropriate.  This is an official document.






Slide 14


Picture of a rescued Northern Gannet being cleaned in rehabilitation center


The Reconnaissance teams go out and scout for oiled wildlife.
GPS coordinates are called in to capture crews.
The Capture crews are deployed in boats or trucks to capture and rescue birds and turtles.
Oiled wildlife are taken to stabilization centers and then transported to rehabilitation centers.




Slide 15


Media Concerns


If you feel comfortable talking with the media, feel free to provide your name and home station and any special training or your qualifications that make you a helpful part of the FWS mission. Describe what you’re working on and focus on the facts.


If you’re not comfortable talking with the media, be polite, professional, and refer them to the public affairs officer (see media relations card).


Keep in mind these days cameras are everywhere, and you never know when you might be filmed.





Slide 16




Although you might expect that exposure to oil and tarballs would be the greatest hazard to your safety, oil exposure is actually number five in the top five safety hazards. Weather – including flooding and lightning are number four. Failure to hydrate comes in at number three.  The second highest safety hazard is Heat Stress,   and the number one safety hazard is near misses with vehicles and boats.  Refer to the OSHA heat stress cards you will receive at check-in.  These cards identify indicators of heat stress and the amount of fluids you need to intake to avoid potential associated dangers.







Slide 17


Review the ranking order of Safety Hazards





Slide 18




Examples of injuries that other reconnaissance workers have experienced include: heat stress, both ambient and related to personal protective equipment (such as Tyvek jumpsuits), bites and stings from insects and reptiles, pinched fingers, and pulled shoulders.




Slide 19




Workers have also experienced near misses in boats and helicopters and falls in and out of boats in shallow water.


Once you’ve been here a while, you should watch yourself for complacency and fatigue. It’s hot work: you’re tired and working long hours and long days, doing the same thing, day in and day out. This can lead to complacency and you may become desensitized to your own situational awareness of your surroundings and situations. If you don’t stay focused, accidents WILL happen. Even simple tasks can present serious risks if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing.




Slide 20




Each module concludes with a knowledge check.  These help gauge your level of comprehension, prior to the final assessment.





Slide 21


Knowledge Check for Module 1




Slide 22




In this module, you received an overview of the hierarchy of operations and what you will be doing, including your role in the process and your daily responsibilities as well as safety risks and potential injuries.


In the next module, you will discover some of the “trust species” you may encounter as part of the reconnaissance group and what to do when that time comes.





Slide 23


Introductory slide showing a Leatherback turtle on the beach


The Second Module is Gulf Trust Species and Habitat




Slide 24




The objective of module 2 is to determine basic facts concerning Gulf trust species and their habitats.


There are two main points to take away from this module. First, most trust species and their habitats can and should be avoided, second the only species that deployed personnel may encounter are migratory birds, sea turtles, and possibly manatees.


Pocket Reference for Activities on Sensitive Lands





Slide 25




Let’s define exactly what we mean by Trust Species.  Simply put, they are those species that the Fish and Wildlife Service has a “trust” responsibility over to maintain viable populations for the public. 


These include but are not necessarily limited to migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, marine mammals, interjurisdictional fish, and other species of concern.


16 USC § 3772 (1), [Title 16. Conservation; Chapter 57B. Partners for Fish and Wildlife







Slide 26




In order to handle migratory birds and endangered species you must have a valid “Federal Fish and Wildlife Permit.”


Reconnaissance and rehabilitation personnel, including those in boats, walking beaches, and working in rehabilitation facilities will receive this permit from their supervisor.


Resource Advisors also called READs, will not receive this permit, as their job does not require handling wildlife.




Slide 27


Photo of the Northern Gannet; a white bird with golden brown coloring at the top of head and neck, medium sized beak, blue and black coloring around the eyes, and a few black feathers toward the back.


The Northern Gannet is the first Trust species we’ll address.  It’s a gull-like migratory bird that grows to approximately 38 inches in length.  To date, juveniles appear to be the group most impacted by the oil spill. In the past, a lot of the Gannets came in without visible oil, but they were distressed.  They were cold and were having trouble flying. They had wetness through to their skin.  Since they were showing signs of distress, they were collected and taken into rehab centers.


All migratory birds are listed and protected under 50 Code of Federal Regulations part 10 except feral pigeons, European starlings and English sparrows as well as indigenous species protected by the states, such as the gallinaceous, huntable species, like turkey, quail and pheasant.





Slide 28


Photos of the brown pelican; a brown bird flying and a more detailed picture of the bird showing its long beak, golden brown coloring on the top of the head, a white neck, and a thick body with brown feathers.


The Brown Pelican is another species which has been impacted in great numbers.  Their exposure has likely occurred during their normal diving habit into offshore or near shore waters for fish, or while resting on top of the water.


An important point; it's essential to notice the habits of ALL birds.  A Pelican floating on the water is not necessarily distressed.  Floating on top of the water is part of their normal behavior.   So keep that in mind when you're looking through your binoculars and making some decisions on whether to capture the bird or not.


Pelicans nest in colonies in the Gulf, as do some other species covered next.




Slide 29


Photo of a thin piece of land with a beach on either side, and trees and greenery on toward the center.


This is what a typical Tern habitat looks like.  Terns usually nest in quite high densities. 





Slide 30




We were staying out of colonies and rookeries at the beginning of this response, however as our efforts continue, we now enter these areas because the risk to young is now greatly reduced or eliminated, as they are either ready to leave or are off their nests.  The threat of heat exposure is not nearly as dangerous with older birds. 




Slide 31


Photo of the Piping Plover; a small bird with light brown feathers on the back, a short beak, with a white neck and stomach, and orange legs.


The Piping plovers are an endangered Great Lakes population, threatened throughout the remainder of its range – They started arriving around August 15, and are wintering in the area surrounding lower Mobile Bay (Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge) to southern Texas.


As a reminder, discovery of this or any of the following Federal or state listed species will require an Endangered Species Act Section 10 permit and/or a Migratory Bird permit.  If you are with the Wildlife Recon and Recovery group, you will be provided one; otherwise, you will need to advise dispatch so that an appropriate Wildlife Recon and Recovery representative or state wildlife agency can be notified.


Let’s move a little further inland.




Slide 32


Photo of the Alabama Beach Mouse; a small, golden-brown mouse with a white stomach, and a pink nose.  Shown in sand with grasses growing out of it.


There are five listed mice in the Gulf.  The Alabama Beach Mouse is shown here.


Most are about the size of your thumb, so you’re not likely to see them (especially since they’re nocturnal). 


You will likely see the burrows and trails coming from them.  These tunnels are very susceptible to crushing. For this reason, we don’t want teams going anywhere above the high-tide line.


If you are in the READs group, you will receive a binder with more details concerning the mice and their habitat once you are on site.





Slide 33


Photo of a beach highlighting the low tide zone, how far the high-tide reaches, the bottom, or toe, of the sand dune, and the closest dune to the beach, or primary dune.


This picture does a good job of illustrating the typical components of a beach system.  The Primary Dune.      The Toe of the Dune.  The High Tide zone with what is called a wrack line.  This is where flotsam - seaweed, shells, and other debris collected from the previous high tide - collects.  And,  the Low Tide-Zone.

  Secondary dunes are "behind" the primary dunes.  That is, they are further inland.




Slide 34




Sea oats (an important food source) shown in the foreground. Their seed heads are a primary food source for beach mice and are protected by state laws from removal or destruction. The beach grass communities act together to protect primary dunes from the onslaught of summer storms by establishing extensive root systems, binding the sands together.





Slide 35


Photo of a dull brown and gold colored snake.


The Gulf salt marsh snake is a Mississippi state sensitive species. It ranges in size from 15 to 30 inches.  Just as its name indicates, this snake prefers brackish and saltwater estuaries, salt marshes and tidal mud flats.


Again, discovery of this or any of the following Federal or state listed species will require an Endangered Species Act Section 10 permit.  If you are with the Wildlife Recon and Recovery group, you will be provided one; otherwise, you will need to advise dispatch so that appropriate Wildlife Recon and Recovery representative or state wildlife agency can be notified.




Slide 36


Non Sea-Going Turtles Information




Slide 37


Information about Sea-Going Turtles




Slide 38


Photos of sea turtle nests marked with caution tape and do not disturb signs


Discovery of a sea turtle nest which isn’t already marked by volunteers or staff personnel will trigger the need to contact dispatch personnel with a GPS location and then to mark the crawl with a foot drag mark perpendicular to the crawl mark so that other teams (air or night operations teams) will not duplicate reporting. See also: “Sea Turtle Nest Protection Protocols for Clean-up Crews on Beaches in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.”  


Sea Turtle Nest Protection Protocols for Clean-up Crews on Beaches in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana




Slide 39


Video showing a female loggerhead covering her nest by pushing layers of sand over it in a sweeping motion with her back legs.


Video of Nesting Loggerhead




Slide 40


West Indian Manatee Slide




Slide 41




Each module concludes with a knowledge check.  These help gauge your level of comprehension, prior to the final assessment.





Slide 42


Knowledge Check for Module 2




Slide 43




This concludes the Gulf Trust module of the course.  In this module we determined some basic facts concerning Gulf trust species and their habitats.


The next module will cover bird capturing techniques.






Slide 44


Introductory slide showing picture of brown pelicans gathered on the shore


The Third Module is Capture and Handling




Slide 45




The objectives for Module 3 are; Choose the proper personal protective equipment needed for safe capture and make a rescue determination.


There are several main points to take away from this module, first, safety is Job #1.  After we highlight some specific safety points, we will cover rescue evaluation and transportation.




Slide 46




When considering safety, first make sure that you have all of your supplies, including sunscreen and hat.  Safety glasses of some sort should be worn whenever available and will not hinder your task. By taking care of these rudimentary personal safety items first, you will be protected from the elements and can concentrate on safely capturing and transporting birds.  Also, be a good citizen and check on the people around you to make sure they’re taken care of as well, including the public.


Be aware that you only want to have the Tyvek suit on for the minimal amount of time to prevent overheating. So don't suit-up until you are close to a capture position. Duct tape should seal the ankles and wrists of the Tyvek suit to boots and gloves. Once you have the Tyvek on and have gotten oil on yourself, you DO NOT remove the suit until you reach the decontamination site. Also be aware of cross-contamination - DO NOT touch any exposed skin, such as your face or other people. If you need to wipe sweat from your face, it's best to have a decontaminated person do it with a clean towel.


While you’re deployed, safety is mostly common sense.  To be aware, you must think things through before you act . Communicate with those around you as to what you’re going to do and how you’re going do it and then act upon that decision. If things go wrong, STOP, communicate again, and proceed.




Slide 47




Now we are going to explain the steps to take before capturing the bird. 


The first thing you should realize is not every bird out there needs to be rescued. You’ll have to look at each situation and prioritize whether it’s one you’re going to act on or not. If a bird is feeding or protecting the its young, it’s most likely not one you need to get. Leave it alone. If the birds are still able to fly, if they’re still mobile, leave them alone. If they can still eat, they will survive; leave them alone. Chances are, you wouldn’t be able to catch them anyway.  If you attempt a capture, then make sure that you’re not disturbing other animals.




Slide 48


Bird I.D. Guide


In order to properly plan each bird capture, it is beneficial to be able to recognize the species of bird. When you are deployed, you will be given a copy of Gulf Coast Birds [tri-fold laminated pamphlet], and some bird identification forms from the National Conservation Training Center.   In the meantime, click the links below to access the quick reference guides for birds and review them before you continue this training.


You will then get a chance to test your knowledge with a quick exercise.


Shorebirds Winter


Summer I.D.


Winter I.D.




Slide 49


Bird I.D. Practice


Let’s do the Bird I.D. Practice.


Can you correctly identify these birds?

Drag and drop the correct name into the blank.

You will have four attempts to get the right answer.

Click the magnifying glass to enlarge the image.

Click the image again to return it to its original size.





Slide 50


Identify Bird Practice




Slide 51


Shown is a photo with four different birds; the first shows little oil, the next 6 to 20% or a light amount of oil, the next shows a bird with sections of visible oil or 21 to 40%, and the last birds stomach is covered in oil which is heavy oiling or over 40%.


On-site you will be given a chart like the one pictured here, that shows the degree of oiling.  You can use this as a reference when filling out your forms, and it can be used as an indicator as to whether or not you should capture the bird. Obviously, a bird that is only lightly oiled like, the trace oiled bird (upper left), is still doing very well. The bird doesn’t know that it has oil on it; it is eating, feeding, and flying. So you probably won’t pick up any of the three birds pictured (trace, light oiling, and moderate oiling). The birds that are heavily oiled are the ones that you’re looking for; they’re the ones that need to be cleaned.


You should also refer to the “Bird Capture Guidelines for Oiled Birds in the Mississippi Canyon 252 Response”






Slide 52




Once you have located a bird and determined it is in need of rescue, you need to develop a capture plan. (The bird capture protocol guide has more specifics concerning capture.) However, here are some key points to keep in mind.


If you don’t succeed after the first couple of attempts, step back and re-evaluate your plan. Use common sense. Visualize the rescue plan in your head first. Then communicate with those around you as to what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it and then act upon that decision. If things go wrong, STOP, communicate again, and then proceed.  Plan the work and work the plan.




Slide 53


Capture - Best Practices






Slide 54




Always, remember you are dealing with wild birds, never let your guard down.  Having good handling skills reduces the chance of causing injury to the bird and to yourself.  Every time a bird is handled it is under extreme stress.  Depending on the bird’s health, it will do what it can to protect itself.  So it’s critically important to keep beaks and talons away from your face. 




Slide 55




Some birds require a team approach to handling.  Raptors, Swans, Canada Geese, Great Blue Herons and Pelicans all require two people to handle safely.





Slide 56




Brown pelicans, northern gannets, and cormorants (the big diving birds) all have very small nares to help them dive, without getting water up their nostrils.  It’s important to either keep their mouth open (pelicans) or provide them ample opportunity to keep their mouth open while controlling where their head goes (i.e., keep their head away from your head!). If a bird is panting, it is too hot. You must cool it down using either shade or ventilation.


Monitor their behavior including activity, breathing, and body condition (note condition on live bird capture form).




Slide 57




Every effort should be made to protect the fragile hollow bones of birds during capture.  Don’t attempt to bend the legs of wading birds. If feathers are damaged during capture, especially primary wing feathers, then the rehabilitative process which is usually 2-3 days before release can increase up to 90 days if veterinary care is necessary to replace feathers, or splint broken bones.




Slide 58


Safety Precautions before transfer SLide


Once you are ready to transport the bird to the recovery center, care must be taken to ensure the vehicle is slightly cooler than ambient temperature (otherwise the bird will get hyperthermic).  Hyperthermic is too hot, as opposed to hypothermic, which is too cold. 

A kenneled bird should not be kept in direct sunlight, but provided adequate shade and ventilation.

Most importantly, you must protect yourself from getting beaked, bitten, or pecked.




Slide 59




Do what you can to minimize stress to the bird.


Never bind the bird’s beak or body parts.


Make sure you complete the live, oiled-bird form and deliver with the bird to the nearest stabilization/rehabilitation center.  This form must always stay with bird.




Slide 60


This video shows a rescuer in a safety suit trying to put a pelican in a transportation cage from a net.  The rescuer doesn't have control over the bird, and it is flailing its wings and head trying to get away.  Because the rescuer didn't have proper control, the pelican's beak hit the rescuer in the head before the rescuer finally got the pelican into the transportation cage.




Slide 61



   The rescuer should have placed a towel over the pelican’s head (under the net) and gained control of the head before lifting the net. 

   The rescuer should have reached under the net to secure the head with his hands, before lifting the net.

Note: It is not as vital to have a finger in the pelican’s bill when making fast transfers such as this.  If you needed to hold the pelican more than several seconds, then you should consider putting your finger in the bill.




Slide 62


This video shows a rescue person standing on the bow of a boat without anything securing him down; this could cause him to be thrown from the boat and injured should it hit the dock.  Then the rescue person jumps onto a dock chasing an oiled bird.  This is a hazard because the rescue person doesn't know if this is a safe dock; it could be rotten, causing him to fall through, or it could be covered in algae, causing him to fall down.  Both of these, not being securely on the boat and jumping on the dock, are safety violations that could potentially injure both personnel and wildlife.




Slide 63



   Now we don't know the exact situation here. The boat captain may have made several passes by the dock to investigate it prior to the rescue attempt. 

   Once thoroughly investigated, the rescuer may have been instructed to the bow. Knowing it is safe to jump on the dock, the rescuer makes a quick and impressive capture. 

   Note how they are in constant communication with one another.  You need to know what each other is doing.  They stay in their lanes.  

   The capture person is concentrated on the bird, but you hear another telling the boat captain the water depth, and focusing on safety. Remember your "situational awareness"! Only you can decide what should and should not be attempted. It is not worth potentially injuring yourself for a rescue attempt. Plan the work and work the plan!




Slide 64


In this video, the rescuers properly capture a pelican while it's swimming.  One rescuer is in a small boat herding the pelican toward the other rescuers.  The rescuers patiently attempt to capture the pelican with the net.  After a few unsuccessful tries, the rescuer finally gets the net over the pelican and puts it in the carrier.




Slide 65




Each module concludes with a knowledge check.  These help gauge your level of comprehension, prior to the final assessment.






Slide 66


Knowledge Check for the Third Module




Slide 67


Module 3 Review


This concludes the Capture and Handling Module of the course.  In this module we discussed how to safely capture and transport oiled birds.


The next module will cover Evidence Handling.







Slide 68


Introductory slide showing a photo of the beach covered in oil while waves are crashing against the shore.


The Fourth Module is Evidence Collection




Slide 69




At the end of this session, you will be able to: identify your role in chain of custody and recall correct procedures for collecting and handling evidence.




Slide 70


Click for Glossary


Since you will be collecting evidence to be used in a court of law, you will need a basic understanding of a few legal terms.  Full legal definitions can be found in the glossary tab. 





Slide 71


To ensure contamination does not occur, provide for accountability, prevent alteration, and conform to the "Best Evidence"rule.  Click for Glossary.


The evidence handling protocols have been developed to address all aspects of the evidence handling process, to assure that all evidence that is collected will be in the best possible condition for potential ultimate presentation in a court of law from the time it is first discovered through the collection and transportation processes and storage pending eventual laboratory analysis.




Slide 72




Time is critical with this incident.  Heat and weather will rapidly break down wildlife carcasses.


 In this environment, scavengers, such as vultures, raccoons, crabs and maggots can also take their toll on successful evidence collection.


This operation is responding on a one-hour response time from the call in.




Slide 73


Chain of Custody Interaction


The chain of custody assures a written record of those who have handled the evidence. It is imperative that the chain does not get broken.


What is chain of custody? This is simply the written record of those who have handled the evidence from initial collection to final law enforcement custodial storage.


Personal safety and associated considerations regarding evidence.  Basically, we're talking about your personal safety, and the safety of those who will follow you.  You don't want to bag a sharp-beaked bird, for instance a Northern Gannet or any heron, without having the bill well protected from puncturing the bags and you or future evidence handlers.  In this same regard, you don't want to push a bird into a bag and potentially damage the evidence (the bird you are bagging).  Long-necked and long-legged birds are especially vulnerable, because if you damage the carcass getting it in the bag, investigators may conclude that this damage was related to the bird's ultimate demise.





Slide 74




Collecting and submitting wildlife specimens.  You will need to check with your supervisor regarding specimen collections.  This is a dynamic process that's changing frequently depending on current conditions.  Sometimes the goal lies more toward the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (pronounced nerda), in which case you would want specimens as intact as possible; other times, the investigation may look at contaminants in tissue samples, in which case, a whole specimen, while desirable, is unnecessary.


It is important to handle carcasses correctly using the protocol outlined on this slide. Both the condition of the specimen and how you handle it will directly influence whether it can be used as evidence or not. This has been one of the most difficult aspects of the evidence collection.  The protocols are sometimes difficult to understand and put into a concise, easy-to-follow methodology.  But adhering to the correct methodology is vital.  Please take a moment to really understand what is being said here.


More in–depth guidelines are available in the Fish and Wildlife Service Carcass Collection Protocol.


You will receive all the equipment you need to properly collect and document the carcasses. It is important to keep them cool!




Slide 75




This is an example of a “Bird Search Effort and Birds Collected Data Form.”   Up to 10 items may be put on each form (associated with a seizure tag).  Lines not filled in should be X’d out.







Slide 76




Let’s take a look at the Evidence Identification Tag.


Use the arrow buttons in the top right corner to go through the image.


The seizure tag number can be reused for multiple Evidence Identification Tags collected at

the same site.


The ID number of individual bird from the Beached Bird Search Effort and Birds Collected Form.


Leave the File number blank.


Tagged by is the collector’s initials.





Slide 77




Now the Evidence Seizure Tag.


Click the arrow in the right top corner to go through the definitions of the sections. To see a larger image of the Evidence Seizure Tag, click the click here. This will open in a new window.


Date and military time.


Check appropriate box. If delivered by non-FWS, check the "received from" box and list person's name.


List city, state, and collection site (Lat/Long in decimal degrees) and datum.


List bird species or class (laughing gull, Forster’s tern, solitary sandpiper, etc.) and indication of oiling. If you don't know the species, put "unknown". 

Input by the evidence custodian.


Collector's name  which does not have to be Law Enforcement.


No more than 10 Evidence Identification Tags on one Evidence Seizure Tag.


Leave blank unless Law Enforcement.


Everyone who handles the evidence from first to last should be listed on this form.




Slide 78




You are part of the chain of custody of accountability by signing these forms. You are responsible for an item to include its care, safekeeping, and preservation while it is under your control. It identifies who handled that bird and at some point you may be called as a witness.




Slide 79


Photo Documentation

-Record GPS points on the data form
-Consult the protocol for storage of photos guarding against digital manipulation.
-Write the data on the Blue Evidence ID Tag and place it next to the carcass.
-Add the “15 cm ruler” provided.
-Use photo setting, not video setting.
-Record the photo number from the SD card on the Bird Search Effort and Birds Collected Data Form.
-Record the SD Card number in the comments box.

Shown is an example of a 15 cm ruler to show the scale in a photo.


At no time will information stored on a digital memory card or camera internal memory be erased or over-written.  Also, the files should not be renamed.


Digital photo files must be stored sequentially on the SD card and not renamed.


SD Card ID Numbers are assigned sequentially and each respective card will have a unique number which will not be repeated.


Two SD cards can be issued for each field team (using separate Chain-of-Custody forms) so that one SD card is always on hand when cards are swapped out of the camera. 



As a general rule, it is good to provide scale in every photo you take.


For more information, refer to the Guidelines for Transferring Digital Photographs from Wildlife Operations.



Slide 80


Knowledge Check Slide


Each module concludes with a knowledge check.  These help gauge your level of comprehension, prior to the final assessment.




Slide 81


Module 4 Knowledge Check




Slide 82




In this module, you learned your role in the chain of custody and correct procedures for collecting and handling evidence.





Slide 83




Now you have an opportunity to test what you have learned. The final assessment includes 20 true and false, multiple choice, and sequence drag and drop questions. You must receive 80% to pass.

The certificate is the only proof of your having passed this course.  Please retain a copy for your records.

After you print your certificate, complete the course online survey. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response Training Coordinator can be contacted here.






Slide 84


Final Assessment