Today we were saddened to learn that Jay Holcomb, dedicated wildlife rehabilitator and pioneer in the field of oiled wildlife response, died yesterday at the age of 63 after a serious illness.
Jay was unique among oiled wildlife responders, inspiring countless people across the globe with his personality, knowledge, and painstaking efforts to develop the best possible methodologies to save animals.
His outstanding leadership capabilities were highlighted in a number of international oil spill incidents where large numbers of wildlife were affected. The largest event in which Jay’s skills made a difference was the Treasure incident in South Africa, in 2000, in which the South African penguin population was critically threatened.
As part of an International Fund for Animal Welfare and International Bird Rescue emergency team, Jay led and oversaw the joint activities of numerous organisations and experts from many countries in setting up and managing a large temporary facility where some 20,000 penguins were cleaned and rehabilitated.
Not having all the answers himself, but leading and encouraging groups of people who collectively had the potential, skills and knowledge to make the critical difference was what made Jay a truly unique and unforgettable person.
During his illness, caused by a combination of cancer and heart problems, he kept a personal blog to inform his friends from all over the world about his last and most challenging journey. This now is a lasting record of his optimistic, cheerful and inspiring mind, a special addition to the many more technical papers and documents he left behind which form an important basis for some of the key methodologies for oiled wildlife rehabilitation.
Most importantly Jay’s philosophy and professional legacy will survive in the minds of wildlife rehabilitators across the world as they apply his high standards to save the lives of hundreds of thousands animals in the decades to come.
Our thoughts are with Jay’s family, friends and our colleagues at International Bird Rescue on this sad occasion.