Pacific Wildlife Care names Vann Masvidal as new director

As volunteers with Pacific Wildlife Care continue to treat an unprecedented number of starving common murres, the group is getting ready to welcome a new center director.

Vann Masvidal of Sacramento is expected to assume his new duties as center director and volunteer coordinator at the wildlife rehabilitation center in Morro Bay in mid-October.

Most recently, Masvidal was the songbird clinic manager at the Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County and has also worked at rehab centers in Cordelia, Sacramento and Loomis. He brings 10 years of experience in wildlife rehabilitation and an expertise in rehabilitating seabirds, herons, egrets and baby birds.

He was the group’s top pick to fill the position, said Meg Crockett, president of the group’s board of directors. He plans to live in Los Osos.

Masvidal said he was motivated to take the job because he is an avid surfer and loves the Central Coast. It also affords him an opportunity to work with Dr. Shannon Riggs, the center’s director of animal care.

“She can fix things in animals that no one else can,” Masvidal said. “I know I am going to learn a lot working with her.”

Meanwhile, the center continues to receive an extraordinary number of starving common murres. The center has taken in 401 of the seabirds this year, 322 since Aug. 1.

Fifty-eight are currently being treated at the center. Only eight have been released back into the wild. This means that most have died.

“Most die within 24 hours of arriving here,” Crockett said. “Starvation is the cause of death.”

The center has no explanation for the influx of birds, which is taking place as far north as Alaska but seems to be particularly intense along the Central Coast. Humpback whales and other species are finding plenty to eat, but not the murres.

“It’s puzzling because this seems to be the only species affected this way,” Crockett said.