Hundreds of animals impacted by oil spill, 22 released Wednesday

MAYFLOWER (KATV) - Hundreds of animals have been impacted by the Mayflower oil spill. Wednesday, 22 of those were released back in the wild.

No ruffled feathers for ten of those animals; ducks released after a close call with the oil.

"If they've been impacted with oil, sometimes we can't save all of them," explained Rhonda Murgatroyd, owner of Wildlife Response Services.

At least 238 affected animals have been captured since the Pegasus pipeline burst. Sixty-two of those were declared dead on arrival. Another 14 died after being brought in for treatment plus three turtles, one duck and 125 venomous snakes were euthanized, according to an Exxon spokesperson. The snakes were euthanized because of worker safety.

So far, 88 animals have been rehabilitated and released, including three snakes, two frogs, six turtles, one toad and 10 ducks, which were all released Wednesday at a wildlife management area in Atkins.

"When we have them in a pen we know that's not where they belong," Murgatroyd said. "They have to be there until we're sure they're ready to go back out into the wild."

Lucky for these ducks, many people were in the wings to help, including Murgatroyd and her crew. The company is out of Texas and was contracted by Exxon.

"We're very excited to see those birds walk out or fly out, or sometimes we hand them out of those kennels," Murgatroyd said. "So, yes, it is an emotional experience."

"When they realized there were going to be as many animals involved, they decided to call in Rhonda's crew because they have vast experience in oil spill related wildlife recovery," explained Tom Bly with Arkansas Game and Fish.

Bly said Game and Fish is pleased, but added there is still a lot to do.

"We won't go anywhere until we know we won't find anything else," Murgatroyd said.