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Around 1,600 sea birds were also captured, de-oiled, and rehabilitated. Half of them were returned to the sea at a cost of nearly $32,000 per bird. After assessing that effort, the Pacific Seabird Group of Stinson Beach, California, concluded that wildlife rehabilitation following oil spills is generally labor-intensive, costly, and has a low probability of success.
The money spent cleaning animals that are likely to die soon anyway could be much more effectively spent designing additional safety systems, investing in oil-containment research, or paying for additional emergency personnel to respond to spills. It's not surprising that the public prefers the hands-on, emotionally satisfying method of rehabilitating individual birds, though in the long run such a method may cost more, both in animal lives and in dollars