A pilot project to begin integration of wildlife rescue into oil spill response in Arctic Russia included a two-day EUROWA Basic Responder Course, which took place in Russia in August 2017. The course, originally developed under the POSOW project, and further refined by the EUROWA project, was attended by a mixed group of oil company managers, authoritiy regulators and NGO representatives.
Although the POSOW wildlife course originally was developed as a tool to serve as an initial (1-day) education of volunteers before and during an oil spill event, the expanded course has now become part of the EUROWA training and education package. It is the first step in a multi-level education programme that aims to produce trained and exercised personnel for all levels in an integrated oiled wildlife response from hands-on personnel and specialists to leading management positions.
This time the course was integrated into a larger training event in which personnel from oil companies, authorities, and NGOs were educated together during a week-long event. The event took place in Naryan-Mar, located in Russia just within the Arctic Circle. Claude Velter (Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, Belgium) and Sascha Regmann (ProBird, Germany), presented the EUROWA Basic Responder Course, which included a one day theory module and a one day field module.
The field module was especially appreciated by participants who were taken to a small lake just outside Naryan-Mar. This provided a nice scene for the various practical activities. Participants learned the basic skills for animal treatment and stabilization, but also for field capture and collection. The latter was enlivened by the appearance of Roboduck, a motorised decoy outfitted with a Go-Pro camera. Roboduck created a life-like challenge for those trying to capture him, and footage from his camera was used to show participants just how stressful it is for a wild bird to be chased and captured by several humans with big nets.
At the the traditional toasting during the evening farewell dinner, many participants testified how much they had learned from the course, and how much they had enjoyed the field sessions and Roboduck in particular.