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Crews take hours to rescue oiled sea lion pup - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Crews take hours to rescue oiled sea lion pup

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 Wildlife is being severely affected by the South Coast Oil Spill.

With busy beaches on this Memorial Day holiday weekend, Sunday proved to be an prime time to find and report oiled animals.

However, one South Coast woman told KSBY it took crews hours to respond to an oiled sea lion pup that she found and reported.

The sea lion came onshore at Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara  early Sunday morning.

Its back fins were visibly oiled.

Cindy Naughton found the pup Sunday morning and stayed with it until crews arrived at 1 p.m.

"That's kind of disturbing that it took 4 hours," Naughton told KSBY."It was way too long."

Mike Harris of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said his office is backlogged with marine mammals in need of rescuing.

He told KSBY they try their best to get to the animals as soon as possible, but it hasn't been easy.

"We're having areas with a lot of heavy traffic that is slowing our response," Harris said. "We also have areas where not only are traffic and distance an issue but then it's requiring crews to carry equipment fairly long distances because there's limited beach access."

Another hang up - the phone lines for the Joint Information Center and Oiled Wildlife Reporting were down much of the day.

The phone issues were resolved by Sunday afternoon.

According to the latest reports, 13 oiled birds have been rescued. Seven birds are dead and so are four mammals.

If you find an oiled animal, Fish and Wildlife said they appreciate if you can stay with it until they get there but you do not necessarily need to.

Harris recommends sending rescue crews a GPS location using the "drop-a-pin" function on your smart phone so they can get to the animal efficiently and directly.

Also, sending Fish and Wildlife photos and videos of oiled animals can help them to identify the wildlife.

If you come across an animal in need of professional care, the first step is to called the Oiled Wildlife Reporting line, 877-823-6929.

For more information on the oil spill response, click here, and stay with KSBY.

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