No one wishes for oil spills. Not petroleum companies, and certainly not those of us who care about the environment. But spills do happen, and one particularly bad spill occurred in 1971 right outside San Francisco Bay. When bad things happen, good people respond. A group of concerned local citizens trooped down to beaches and shoreline all around the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay in a desperate attempt to rescue thousands of birds covered in oil.
After that first oil spill, we explored many different ways to clean oil off of aquatic birds. Seven years later, in 1978, International Bird Rescue started what would become a 40-year relationship (and counting) with Procter and Gamble. Through trial, error, and our tenacity to find a solution, we discovered that Procter and Gamble’s Dawn dish soap, was the golden ticket! It was inexpensive, effective, readily available, and Procter and Gamble was excited to learn about this somewhat unusual use of their product.
Since then, Procter and Gamble have become one of our biggest supporters, donating countless bottles of Dawn dish soap to us, and committing hundreds of thousands of dollars to support our wildlife rehabilitation, research, and spill response work.
Fortunately, our 47 years of work has helped improve emergency response techniques and outcomes for oiled wildlife across the globe. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of other threats to aquatic birds. Rescuing birds negatively affected by urban wildlife conflicts such as habitat loss, cruelty, and fishing entanglements (from hooks, lines, and nets) is an ever-increasing volume of our work.
See: History of DAWN helping save wildlife
We can all take action every day to make a difference and improve the human impact on aquatic birds by opting for wooden stir sticks (instead of plastic) at the local coffee shop, using reusable water bottles (instead of single-use plastic bottles), making sure to never litter, and by donating to International Bird Rescue. Join us, and we can all continue this life-saving work. To learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor, click here.