Oct 8, 2016

Elkhorn Slough bobcat returns home

After a month in rehab, this beautiful female bobcat was able to return home today, to the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, thanks to the expert care it received at Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. 

The cat was discovered suffering from mange in August. Read the story of her rescue, HERE.

While the bobcat tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticide in its system and was treated with vitamin K to counter any blood clotting issues, rodenticide is still in its liver. How much, we don't know - but these Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides, or SGARs, can remain in the liver for a year and longer.

For some reason, lately we have been getting a lot of reports of sick bobcats. Currently, we're on the hunt for two others that are sick, suffering from mange. One, above the DeLaveaga Golf Course, and another at Oakwood Memorial Park - both in Santa Cruz, CA. Story, HERE.

This particularly lucky bobcat was released back into her home range today, just yards from where she was captured. Check out the video below.




Photo by Scott Nichols

Oct 6, 2016

Yet another sick bobcat

What is going on?

Another sick bobcat was reported to us on Wednesday. A person reported seeing a bobcat hunting gophers in Oakwood Memorial Park in Santa Cruz. She said the animal let her get unusually close.

Sure enough, photos revealed the cat is suffering from mange and is very thin.

Within a couple of ours of the sighting, we staged a trap near where it had been seen, but had no luck. If anyone sees this bobcat, please contact us immediately. 

Oct 4, 2016

La Selva Beach bobcat rescue

WildHelp image.

In late August we received an alert from the WildHelp Mobile App about a sick bobcat in a La Selva Beach neighborhood. The picture accompanying the alert (above) was helpful in evaluating the animal's condition.

Clearly, this bobcat was extremely ill, suffering from mange that might possibly be linked to anticoagulant rodenticide. Predators are exposed to these powerful chemicals when they consume rodents that have eaten the poison. 

Orchard Supply, Watsonville, CA 10-3-2016
Although the skin condition can be cured and blood clotting issues can be treated, with a half-life (the time it takes a substance to reduce its concentration by half) of four months to a year, second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) can remain in an animal's liver even after rehabilitation and release back to the wild.

Due to the substantial impact to wildlife, state and federal regulatory agencies have taken steps to reduce availability of SGARs to the general public and cancelled production and sale of certain d-Con products (more HERE), but, because retailers are being allowed to sell their remaining inventory, these poisons are still readily available.

Note in the picture (Left), RatX, the only wildlife-safe rodenticide, is on the bottom shelf.

As for this bobcat's rescue, there were logistical issues that delayed attempts. One major problem was the neighboring home allowed their chickens to run free. Over time, they have lost a number of chickens to predators, including this bobcat, but, we were told, it wasn't an issue for them... they didn't mind losing a chicken now and then...

This complicated matters for us. With free-roaming chickens next door, the bobcat would probably not enter our trap. The cat seemed to have a pattern, too. It would take a chicken, then disappear for days. Because sightings were so inconsistent and the investment of time to set and sit on the traps and the issues with the neighboring property, we decided to postpone rescue attempts until sightings were more regular.

Finally, we received a call yesterday afternoon. The cat was back!

Although it reportedly looked far worse than before, emaciated and weak, it tried to take another of the neighbor's chickens but was scared off its kill before it could make a meal of it. 

When we arrived, we found the small bobcat - about the size of a house cat, resting in a row of corn, seemingly unconcerned with people walking by. 

Using a long-handled hoop net, we captured it fairly easily - just be stealthily sneaking up from behind. Once in the net, the cat put up a bit of a fuss, but settled down quickly. With the animal in the sock of the net, separated with a piece of plywood, we married the hoop of the net with the transport carrier, then scooped it into the crate using the plywood.

The bobcat was housed overnight. It was provided warmth and a meal - a half of a chicken breast and water. 

This morning, it looked better - a bit more responsive. It was transported to the WIldlife Center for Silicon Valley where it received a thorough examination.

They found the male bobcat to be about 5 years old, extremely emaciated, weighing just under 12 pounds. He was given fluids and started on an emaciation diet. His prognosis is Guarded. Good news - his clotting times appeared normal so there is no immediate concern about rodenticides being a factor in his illness.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE: 10-7-16

The bobcat survived his first night, which gave us hope, but, he died on the 6th. His body will be sent to the state lab to find out what killed this majestic animal.

Thank you Mary for helping with the rescue and transport. 

Thank you Justin for helping wrangle the cat into the crate!!!

Sep 26, 2016

Collared duck in Monterey

This weekend WES received a report of a mallard duck in Monterey that's somehow gotten a plastic drink lid around its neck. 

Unfortunately, there have been numerous failed attempts to catch this duck, making him extremely wary and hard for us to approach or lure close. 

According to the SPCA for Monterey County Wildlife Center, they first received a call about it him in Spring. Although the drake has been in this condition for months, he seems to be in fairly good health. However, the plastic ring is disrupting his feathers, allowing cold water and air to get through his otherwise waterproof integument, and so, it should be removed.

WES will be taking the lead in capturing the duck. We are asking citizens to not try and capture him as this will make him harder for us to catch. 

Sep 6, 2016

Bobcat with mange - rescued!

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Over the last couple of weeks, there's been a bobcat with mange spotted on the Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve property. Most likely suffering from Notoedric mange, caused by ear mites.

Research suggests exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides from eating poisoned rodents increases an animal's susceptibility to mange. Read all about it, HERE and HERE

Thankfully, there are no such poisons used on the preserve. If the animal was exposed, it could have been from one of the surrounding properties or agricultural fields.

Either way, the animal needed treatment, and fast.

Dave Feliz, manager of the reserve, gave the go ahead for us to attempt to capture it, but first, we'd need to find it. 

It had been a few days since it was last sighted, but seemed to hang around the flats near the Long Valley and Five Fingers trails.  

The reserve is normally closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays and Monday was a holiday, so, we decided to try this morning.

As luck would have it, when I arrived, one of the biologists working the reserve had just seen the cat crossing the Long Valley trail. Perfect!

Mike was willing to show me where he'd seen the cat, but that's not where we intended to stage the capture equipment. In this case, we wanted to set up capture equipment a distance away from the animal, so not to spook it, then use sounds to draw it close.

As I drove to a location I thought the cat would return to - a place I'd seen it before, there she was - slinking through the dry grass for the cover of a large oak tree. She sat in the shade, watching, as I drove by. 

I kept my eye on her until I got about 60 yards away and out of her direct line of sight so she would not move off.

There, in the shade of an oak, I set up the cage trap. It's a long metal cage with a separate partition for live animals. I placed one of our two poults inside the separate cage. These are young chickens that are accustomed to cats, dogs, travel and handling.

I thought to separate them so they would call for each other - their peeps would bring the cat close to investigate.

I drove back to the visitor center and watched and listened. I could hear the chick across the field. 

After about 30 minutes or so, she settled down and stopped calling, so I walked the other chick out to the trap and placed it inside. They immediately started peeping. Good.

I figured I'd check again in an hour.

When it was time to check, I took the truck, thinking I might just park there and watch from a distance. As I started to turn onto the Long Valley trail, there she was! I immediately switched gears and slowly backed the truck until I was out of sight. 

I rolled down the windows, cut the engine and just listened. I heard the peeping - the chicks were chattering to each other - good.

About five minutes later, I heard them alarm-call, then I heard the trap door slam shut - I just hoped the cat was inside...

Sure enough!

I called Mike to help lift the cage, and moved the chicks to their travel cage. (Thank you Mike!) (Thank you chicks!)

We got the cat loaded, covered with a dark sheet, and I headed for the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose.

There, the older female bobcat, estimated to be about 4-5 years old, was sedated, examined and given fluids. She received an initial treatment for mange before being placed in an enclosure where she'll be monitored closely. 

Oh,... and, she might be pregnant!

UPDATE: 9-12-16

Blood tests confirmed our fears, the bobcat tested positive for exposure to rodenticide poisoning. She will be on medication to counter the anticoagulants until her release.


Anyone interested in providing a loving home for these two famous poults?

Sep 5, 2016

Danville Coyote R.I.P.

By Rebecca Dmytryk

We received word from a citizen that at about 12:20 today the coyote was struck and killed by a vehicle. The County Animal Services picked up the carcass. We are hoping to get his body to the Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova to further research of coyotes with mange. At least maybe he'll contribute to science... 

The coyote's last walk, HERE.

So very sad. Poor, poor, dog. Poor coyotes. So misunderstood...

In mourning the loss of this animal, I can't help but feel for those who fear and hate coyotes... or wolves, or mountain lions, or sharks... 

Sep 2, 2016

Latest efforts to rescue Danville Coyote

Yesterday, Duane and Rebecca spent another 12-hour day in pursuit of the coyote with mange, hoping for just the right opportunity to set up their capture equipment to rescue him. 

Thanks to reports of sightings, they caught up with him in a neighborhood south of downtown, off Sycamore Canyon. The streets were fairly quiet, but, time and time again people disrupted capture plans. Drivers would slow to look at the wild dog, or they would stop to take pictures of him. A couple of cars began following him, reporting his whereabouts, oblivious of the rescue vehicle behind them with hazard lights flashing.

It almost seemed as though people were using reports of NextDoor to locate him, so, we requested direct emails of sightings rather than posts on any social media.

Finally, in the late afternoon, the coyote returned to a home where they'd staged capture equipment. Unfortunately, he didn't go far enough into the yard. He kept moving down the boulevard. 

Later, he was headed back, but three boys on bicycles chased him into heavy traffic. Amazingly, he made it across El Cerro Blvd. without getting hit. By then, though, it was time for the team to make their near 2-hour commute back home. 

We haven't given up. We'll keep trying. 

Please do not feed the coyote. Do not try to capture him. Report sightings to rebecca@wildlifeservices.org.

Aug 27, 2016

Danville Coyote Update

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Last Saturday, we went looking for the coyote with mange and encountered him walking in a residential neighborhood. At one point we tried to "push" him - guide him - down a particular street for capture, but, being so very intuitive, he knew we were trouble and took off. 

What's so interesting, this one momentary exchange we had with him - very similar to  hazing, was enough to spook him from this particular neighborhood. That afternoon he was spotted 2.5 miles north where he'd been the week before. This shows how sensitive coyotes are to disruption and how easy it is to make them uncomfortable and to move on. 

We decided to wait a few days before looking for him again, hoping to get reports of his whereabouts and maybe see a pattern - where he might be at a certain time of day.

Indeed, thanks to reports of sightings by concerned citizens and the Danville Police Department, we learned he was hanging around a few homes off Danville Blvd. 

On Thursday, Duane and I captured a glimpse of him on the busy street:

We spoke with the homeowners of the properties he was frequenting and they were extremely helpful, showing us the route the coyote would take each morning. That's where we set a cage trap. We parked just across the street to keep watch - we never leave any capture devices unattended. 

An hour or so later, we heard the alarm calls of crows, then we saw him. He crossed the boulevard - very conscious of traffic, and headed into the yard where we'd set up various pieces of capture equipment and the cage trap.

Coyotes rarely go into cage traps, so we didn't think we'd get him to enter, but, amazingly, he did! 

Unfortunately, though, either he didn't step on the treadle, or the trap malfunctioned. He got the cooked chicken, though!

At least he got "rewarded" for going into the cage. That left us feeling quite confident he'd enter it again. 

However, as the coyote was in front of the trap, the neighbors - not aware the coyote was just a few yards away, slammed their car doors and spooked him off, then a loose dog chased him up the street. 

Hours later, the coyote was reported over a mile away, in the hills above Danville. We waited for the afternoon rush hour traffic to die down before driving home, hoping to return early the next morning.

Yesterday, I left home at 5:00 am and by 8:00 I had the trap set and ready to go. 

A couple of hours later, I saw the coyote pop out of the hedge where the trap was - he looked startled. He started to walk the shoulder of the boulevard where people slowed to look at him - pressuring him. He disappeared down a side street.

I checked the cage-trap. It had been triggered and the bait was gone. The trail camera revealed what had happened. HERE, the video shows just how brilliantly smart, sharp and aware, and cleverly adaptable these animals are. This is how they have survived 100-plus years of persecution. I have always admired coyotes and now I have even more respect for them. Just brilliant.

Unfortunately, the coyote is now cage shy. We may have to use a different strategy. The neighbors worked with me in developing up another plan. We'll probably have to wait until next week to try again. 

In the meantime, we're hoping people report his whereabouts and that the coyote can survive until then - not get frightened into traffic or otherwise harmed. So far, most of the residents have expressed concern for his welfare - he's got a lot of the town on his side, looking out for him. 

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has expressed concern for this animal!

Aug 22, 2016

Danville Coyote

Last week, WES received word about a coyote with a severe case of mange, roaming the streets of Danville, CA. WES' capture experts Duane Titus and Rebecca Dmytryk drove to Danville on Saturday to look for the animal and get a feel for the area. 

With help from residents and the Danville Police Department, they were able to locate the coyote and make a few live-trap sets, but there were too many people out enjoying the weekend for any capture attempts to be successful. They will try again this week.

In the meantime, a couple of locals have stepped up to help, monitoring a social media site called Nextdoor for posts about the coyote - when and where it's being observed. We're keeping track of sightings hoping to narrow in on a good spot to try and capture the wild dog.

For the most part, the community seems more concerned for the animal's welfare than anything else. The fear level is low, as it should be. This adult male coyote is not a threat to people and it has been observed walking by dogs and cats, showing little interest. 

However, free-roaming cats are always in danger of being killed by other animals or cars, so it's best to keep them inside or at least provide them with an outdoor enclosure like a catio. Owners of small dogs should also take precautions, making sure their yard is predator-proof, and, on walks, small dogs should be on short leads, no longer than 6 feet. Contact Humane Wildlife Control for help making your backyard coyote-proof.

Although coyotes do not see humans as prey - not even small children, they will follow people. They aren't stalking, but hoping the person leads to food they can scavenge - like jackals in Africa follow lions. 

While we rather people not frighten this particular coyote, in general, it is best to tell coyotes "No!" - to "Go Away!", so they don't get too comfortable around people. It's called hazing. Check out the instructional video, HERE.

This particular coyote is suffering from mange - a skin condition caused by mites that burrow into the skin. Although he looks horrible, he's treatable. We hope to capture him in the coming weeks and deliver him to one of the area's wildlife hospital where he can receive treatment and be returned to the wild. 

While the symptoms of mange in coyotes looks similar to what we see in bobcats with mange, the type of mite is different, and so may be the underlying cause. In bobcats, there seems to be a connection to the disease and exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides found in rat poison. After consuming bait, rodents die out in the open where predators and scavengers find them.

The secondary risk to wildlife is so great, the Environmental Protection Agency restricted availability of these poisons to the general public, but they are still widely used by the pest control industry. More on how these poisons impact wildlife, HERE. The only wildlife-safe rodenticide is RatX.

It's not clear, yet, if exposure to poisons or pollutants is related to mange in coyotes, but it is treatable. Help us track down this coyote by reporting sightings to your Nextdoor page or contact the Danville Police Department, or you can email rebecca (at) wildlifeservices (dot) org. Thank you!

Check out the video from Saturday.

Aug 13, 2016

Pelican Patrol Boat

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Photo by Tim Blair CCL.

Over the years, my friend and colleague Jay Holcomb would speak often about the need for a boat to conduct proactive searches in marinas - along jetties and breakwaters where ailing birds tend to congregate - places that are impossible to reach without a boat. 

We used to talk about how great it would be to locate and capture injured and ill pelicans sooner than later, before they're too compromised, giving them a better chance of recovering. 

A Pelican Patrol, we'd call it.

Jay died in 2014 before his dream could be realized. It is time we make this happen.

Please help us turn this dream into a reality by making a contribution of $100.00 or more, HERE. If you rather send a check, please write Pelican Patrol in the memo section.

The boat will be named The Jay Bird in honor of Jay Holcomb.

Thank you for your support.

Aug 12, 2016

Pelican with signs of domoic acid - rescued

This morning, WES was notified by International Bird Rescue of two ailing pelicans at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay. The reporting party had observed a very sick pelican on a rock, weaving its head back and forth. This is an indication of domoic acid poisoning - often treatable in birds.
WES directors, Duane Titus and Rebecca Dmytryk, drove from the Santa Cruz area and arrived on scene around 1:00 pm. They quickly found the ailing pelican. 

Although the pelican seemed a bit "out of it", Duane used precaution, approaching it very slowly. Check out the video below.

The bird was placed on a heating pad inside a crate and transported over Highway 92 where Peninsula Humane Society transported it the rest of the way to PHS' Wildlife Center in Burlingame.

The second pelican was entangled in fishing line. According to the RP, the young pelican has been entangled since July 19th.

Young pelican entangled in fishing line. It was first observed July 19th.

Using binoculars, the team scanned the pelicans on the breakwater and jetties but could not locate this particular bird. They did, however, observe a pelican that appeared weak. Unfortunately, it would take a small boat to get to it. Something WES desperately needs.

We have just launched a campaign to raise funds for a rigid inflatable boat, like a Zodiac, that can reach the breakwaters and jetties where ill and injured birds tend to congregate.

This was a dream of our dear friend and colleague, Jay Holcomb, who passed away in 2014 - to have a boat dedicated to proactive searches of marinas and harbors to look for ailing pelicans and other marine birds in trouble. A Pelican Patrol Boat. We plan to name the vessel in Jay's honor - The Jay Bird.

Please help us raise the funds to acquire a Pelican Patrol boat by contributing HERE. We're offering various levels of support including the opportunity to join us on patrols in various marinas in California. 

Photo by Tim Blair CCL

Aug 7, 2016

Another skunk in a rat trap - rescued

This evening, we were called out to rescue a skunk that had been left to die in a rat trap at a residence in Bonny Doon. 

The homeowner had noticed the skunk in the trap earlier that morning but it was barely moving so they left for the day, only to return to find the skunk was very much alive - just more awake, as it was nearing nightfall.

The trap had been set outside to kill rats around a chicken coop. The coop was not constructed with the right material to prevent rodents from getting in, so it's been a great attractant to rats and mice, and, the carnivores, like skunks, that eat them.

Snap traps are not meant to be set out in the open where other animals can get to them - but that's not made clear on the packaging. This brand, one of the newer heavy-duty traps with interlocking teeth made by Bell Labs and distributed by Scotts Miracle-Gro, is particularly dangerous to non-target animals.

Because of the number of animals being caught and mortally wounded in these traps, we contacted Bell Laboratories and Scotts Miracle-Gro, asking them to add warnings on the packaging.

In March, Bell Labs responded by adding some language to their online product page and sell sheet, promoting use of a protective box to prevent exposure to children, pets, and wildlife. We'd hoped for more, but it's a start.

Scotts Miracle-Gro Company was receptive, indicating they would look into adding precautionary language and developing content on their product pages and tutorials, but we have yet to hear back from them. We'll be sharing this latest casualty with both companies.

In the end, the little skunk was freed from the trap, but he was badly injured. Check out the video, below.

The trap had snapped down on the skunks humorous. The leg was very badly swollen, having been in the trap for possibly 24 hours. We delivered the animal to Native Animal Rescue's skunk expert, Monique, where we hope it will make a full recovery.

Stay tuned!

Jul 29, 2016

Skunk stuck in a bathtub

By Rebecca Dmytryk

It was supposed to be a day off (What's that?). Duane and I were headed for a sweet little coffee shop for pastries then to an early showing of the Bourne movie, when we received a call from the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter about a skunk, stuck in someone's bathtub. What? Really?... Yep.

We threw on rescue tees and headed for Aptos to one of the oddest calls we've ever had... how did a skunk get into the house and climb into the bathtub in which he is now stuck because he can't climb out? The family had been home all night, lots of kids (sleepover), boxer-dog, but maybe the sliding glass door was left open... 

In preparation for the rescue, the sweet dog was put in one of the bedrooms and the kids were going to wait outside to watch the release. They were super great - very quiet and patient. So was the skunk.

The idea was to get the animal covered with a sheet so the fabric will take the hit if it sprayed - which I really thought it would. I warned the homeowner that it was a distinct possibility, and gave some tips on airing out the house - like simmering French roast coffee all day to neutralize the odor.

The key with skunks is to be really quiet - silent - and very, very slow. I used a large bed sheet to approach and cover the animal. He was super tolerant and didn't spray until we were running towards the slider - I am sure the sound of my heeled boots on the hardwood floor didn't help! In the end, the only casualty was the Ken doll.

Check out the rescue:

Jul 22, 2016

Entangled great horned owl

This afternoon, WES received a call from the DeLaveaga Golf Course in Santa Cruz. An owl was entangled in the drive range netting, about 30' high or so. Lewis Tree Service had offered use of their bucket truck, they just needed some experienced hands to free the bird.

Once scene, we asked patrons to stop hotting balls while we performed the rescue.

Lewis Tree Service allowed Duane to use the bucket to reach the owl. It took a bit of doing to untangle the bird's sharp talons, but in just a couple of minutes, the bird was free.

 The bird was bright and alert. We consulted with a wildlife hospital for instructions and it was decided the bird was fit enough to be released.

Check out the video of the rescue: