OIL SPILL RECOVERY: REFUGE POSES BARRIER TO WILDLIFE RESCUE

The rugged wilderness that makes Prince William Sound a rich marine habitat stands as a barrier to efforts to rescue the thousands of animals expected to be fouled by America's biggest oil spill, officials say. The problems posed by the geography include:

A coastline so remote that rescuers are afraid to send out volunteers for fear they might not be prepared for wilderness survival.

Beaches so rugged that in many places it is impossible to land a boat, let alone chase down and capture oil-coated birds or wildlife.

Distances to aid facilities so great that animals captured on the beach would probably die in captivity waiting to be taken to a hospital.

Large, powerful wild animals that could threaten rescuers.

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