History of the OWCN

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) was established in 1994 by the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) in response to the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and the American Trader spill in Huntington Beach.

Tasked by the state legislature to make California the most proactive region in the world for oiled wildlife response, OSPR partnered with the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and reached out to wildlife care organizations, regulatory agencies and universities with an interest in working collaboratively to rescue and rehabilitate oiled wildlife.

The result of that outreach is the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, widely recognized as an international leader in oil spill response. Today the OWCN comprises more than 40 member organizations throughout the state, including world-class aquaria, universities, scientific organizations and rehabilitation groups.

As of 2014, OWCN’s response range expanded from the marine area to statewide, including all California state surface waters.