Jun 22, 2017

Oakland Fire saves entangled osprey

by Rebecca Dmytryk

I was headed home from Lake Tahoe where, the night before, I'd given our presentation Living With Wildlife to a crowd of about 100 locals. I was passing through Berkeley when I received word about a fledgling osprey that was tangled in debris in its nest at the Port of Oakland. 

Local birders monitoring the nest had first noticed the bird was in trouble on Tuesday. They were waiting on the Port of Oakland and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for assistance.

I reached out to Tony Brake who was working with Wendy Parfrey, an Alameda Fish and Wildlife Commissioner, who had been monitoring this particular nest - the Oakland Middle Harbor Nest. (More on the Bay Area ospreys, HERE.)

Tony gave me a rundown of the history. The osprey pair was first observed at the nest on February 26th. Incubation began on March 25th, with hatching confirmed on April 30th.

All seemed well - the chicks were developing and starting to fly, when, on  June 20th, Wendy observed one of the fledglings was in trouble - it appeared “tethered” to the nest by some sort of line. 

On June 21st, Tony confirmed the chick was still caught. That's when Wendy attempted to contact Port staff and reached out to the USFWS. Tony also contacted Anne Ardillo who had helped arrange the rescue of a similarly trapped osprey nestling on a crane in the Port of Richmond in 2014. In turn, Anne reached out to WES.

The nest was atop a light post inside the 7th Street Terminal. You could get a view of it from Port View Park. I asked Tony to meet me there.

In the meantime, I contacted the USFWS to be sure they knew what we were up to. Our USFWS permit allows us to rescue imperiled migratory birds - I just needed to notify an agent. Check.

Next, I left a message for someone at the Port of Oakland, but decided not to wait for a callback before moving forward...

We needed a lift... hmmmm... We have had excellent response from local Fire when faced with difficult, technical rescues requiring a ladder, so, I called Oakland Fire to see if they'd be willing to help.

"I'm sorry - a WHAT?"

"An osprey - it's like a fish eagle."

"Okay, hold on a minute,..."

A minute or so later, Oakland Fire T3 was on the way! (THANK YOU!!!!!!)

I met with the crew to go over the rescue plan and contingencies. One of the most important things - don't just cut the line. In cases where birds are entangled, it's not enough to free them, all the material around their legs, feet, body, must be removed. If there is a serious injury, the bird will need to be taken to a local wildlife hospital.

With that, the crew made contact with Port Security to gain access into the terminal, and within minutes they were raising the ladder toward the nest. The parent ospreys and two siblings circled above.

As the ladder approached, the young osprey tried to fly but was clearly caught by the leg by some sort of material. After a closer look, Lt. Jessel knew the bird needed medical treatment - the line had cut into the leg, deeply. He snipped the material and carried the bird down the ladder where Tony and I met him with an animal carrier.

Tony transported the bird to WildCare in Marin (THANK YOU, TONY!!!). 

There, it received immediate attention. The line had cut deeply. According to WildCare medical staff, the bird is in guarded condition and will likely be in rehabilitation for two weeks.

Stay tuned.

Photo Credit WildCare.

May 9, 2017

5 baby raccoons dumped





On Sunday evening around 7:00 PM, at the Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy, a family witnessed an adult male pull a humane trap from the trunk of his car. It contained 5 newborn raccoons. 

He then dumped the raccoons in the grass between the entry parking lot and the creek.

We are offering a $1,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible.

The man indicated he lived a couple of miles away from the park. Does anyone know who this person is? If so, contact us - anonymously if you choose, at admin@wildlifeservices.org.

Amazingly, the baby raccoons survived the night without their mother, without food or shelter, exposed to the elements. They were rescued by Native Animal Rescue and transferred to the SPCA of Monterey County where they are being cared for.

May 8, 2017

Orphaned coyote pups

Last Thursday, Almaden resident Chuck Rossi contacted a local wildlife hospital about 5 coyote pups in a den on his hillside property. He and his family had been keeping a close eye on the coyote mom and her pups using a security camera turned "coyote cam". That's how they knew, for sure, the mother had not returned since the night before. Check out the mom feeding her pups, HERE.

That same morning, a female coyote had been found dead about a half a mile away on Alameda Expressway, presumably struck by a vehicle. As time went on, it became clear, this was the mother coyote.

The natal den was a small space that had been excavated under large boulders on a wooded hillside between homes. The den went back under the boulder about eight feet and had 4 separate entrances.

After initial attempts to extract the pups were unsuccessful, WES was called to help.

We didn't want to take the pups into captivity if they had a chance to grow up wild, so we reached out to a biologist who studies urban coyotes in the Los Angeles area. According to his research, other adult members of a pack will sometimes help raise the pups, but, since there hadn't been any "helper" coyotes in the area, the only chance for these pups would be in the care of humans.

Early Friday morning, WES responders placed a large dog trap baited with dead mice, just outside the den entrance. The trap was modified so it could be triggered manually. 

The pups were so frightened, though, they stayed close to the den's entrance and didn't venture deep enough into the trap.

On the third night without their mom, one pup, desperate for food, did explore the trap and was captured, but the rest stayed together under the boulder. It was transferred to the wildlife hospital. 

By the next day - Sunday, the situation was dire. The pups had not eaten much of the food slurry that was left for them. Time was running out...

We arrived on scene at about 6:30 PM. First we tried to encourage the pups out into the open by making noises at the back of the den. When that didn't work, they started to dig out the front entrance.

At one point, at least two of the pups could be seen, but then they tucked themselves deeper under the boulder and out of sight.  

Finally, while working all the entrances to the den, Duane saw one of the pups through a small opening. He caught hold of it with grabbers but it wouldn't fit through the hole. Using a crowbar he was able to dislodge a large rock and lift the pup to safety. Check out the video below.

The team continued working, well into dark, digging out the den, using flashlights and scopes, but the pups stayed hidden. Just as they were starting to lose hope of finding the pups, the resident brought out a small thermal imaging device that could detect a heat signature. 

Amazingly, it showed exactly where the pups were hiding - up and to the right. 

Duane squeezed himself into the den as far as he could go, and, using a makeshift noose, he was able to snare two of the pups. The fourth was caught by hand as it was trying to leave from one of the back entrances.

The pups were immediately transferred to the wildlife center where they received fluids for severe dehydration. They are expected to recover and be set free when they are able to survive on their own.

Thank you to everyone who helped in this rescue, most especially the Rossi family who took such extraordinary measures to help these beautiful creatures.

Apr 13, 2017

Duckling reunion

By Deanna Barth, WES San Benito

I received a call from a Ridgemark community resident around 6pm tonight. Her husband had rescued a duckling from the middle of the road. 

When I arrived to the home I was quickly invited in and shown the lone duckling, peeking out from a large box with a heat lamp on it. 

The duckling was bright and alert, vocalizing and trying desperately to jump out. No sign of injury. Likely, it had just recently become separated from its mother and siblings. 

I explained that it's always best for healthy young to remain with "mom," but that if she couldn't be found, the duckling would be taken to a wildlife hospital for care. 

Knowing hens walk their babies to the nearest body of water, I thought I'd check the closest pond. I placed the duckling inside my carrier and drove down the street to the nearest pond, which was on a golf course. 

From a distance I could only see Canada geese, but as I moved towards the water, a Mallard drake flew in low and landed in the center of the pond. I watched and waited... and from the corner of the embankment I heard peeping and a hen swam out to either greet the male or chase him off. Trailing behind her were seven ducklings the same age as the one in my possession. Yes! 

I grabbed up the little duckling and kneeled, and as the hen swam by in front of me I let the little one go (bottom right corner of photo) - it quickly joined up with the group. 

Happy reunion!

Apr 8, 2017

WES San Benito

With no wildlife center to serve San Benito County, WES' lead responder Deanna Barth has answered the call of duty by building a rescue network in her hometown of Hollister.

Over the last couple of years, Deanna has focused on building relationships with the county animal shelter and local animal rescue groups. She's got a well-established system now, so anyone who finds a wild animal in trouble will get help quickly, and the animal will receive the appropriate attention. This branch of WES is independently run by Deanna, with its own number, 831-708-WILD, to serve the area more efficiently. There's also a separate Facebook page, HERE

In preparation for the 2017 baby season, Deanna just finished renovations of a guest bedroom in her home into a wildlife intake room for those rare instances when an animal is received after hours and must stay overnight before being transferred to the nearest wildlife hospital. The closet ones are in Monterey and San Jose.

Just yesterday, Deanna's guest was a mother opossum! The animal was found curled up under a structure that was being demolished. Thankfully, the person called the local animal shelter and was quickly referred to Deanna. 

Deanna explained that in following California law the animal could not be relocated, but, she could remove the opossum and babies from harm's way and release them, carefully, back to the same property come nightfall. 

That's how Deanna spent her Friday night! 

If that sounds good to you and you'd like to work with animals, consider volunteering for rescues or transport, or, support Deanna and the San Benito chapter with a donation. Use the button below or send a check with San Benito in the memo section.


Wild animals are protected by state and federal laws that prohibit unauthorized handling and possession. In spring, healthy babies are too often 'kidnapped' and orphaned by people with good intentions. So, if you find a wild animal that appears to be in trouble, make contact with a wildlife expert before intervening - you could be doing more harm than good and placing yourself and the animal in jeopardy. 

How to find help:

1. If you have an iPhone, use the free WildHelp App to locate the nearest rescuer.

2. Google "wildlife rehabilitation" for a list of wildlife hospitals in your area.

3. In California, click HERE for a list of licensed facilities.

Apr 1, 2017

First Fawn

Spring is officially here and with it comes the busiest season for wildlife rescuers. 

Today, we responded to our first fawn call of the year - a fawn in a garage, under a car.

We suspect the newborn fawn was 'dropped' nearby and it decided the open garage looked like a good place to hide from predators and the car added even more protection.

The doe was observed in the area.

WES re-situated the fawn a few yards away under a tree in the unfenced yard and gave explicit instructions to the resident humans to keep it quiet in that part of the yard for the remainder of the day.

Deer leave their fawns for hours at a time. If you find an unattended fawn, don't panic but report it to the nearest wildlife rescue or rehabilitation center. Locate the nearest wildlife expert using the WildHelp App for Phones. Download it for free, HERE.

Jan 1, 2017

Community comes together to save raccoon

By Rebecca Dmytryk

According to reports, at about 3 AM on Dec 30th, a homeless man heard grunts and cries coming from a drain in a parking off Freedom Blvd in Watsonville CA, right in front of La Princesa Market. He called the police to help. After confirming an animal in trouble, the police called on the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. Carlos responded.

The raccoon was tucked back inside a drain pipe. The catch basin was only about a foot and a half deep, but the drain cover - the grate, had been sealed closed with asphalt. The local Fire Department was called on, but they, too, could not break through the cover.

Later in the morning, the property manager got his plumber to break away the asphalt and remove the grate. This was about midday.

Carlos got a look at the animal. It was an adult raccoon inside the pipe - about 8 feet away, and stuck, tight. 

Carlos called us to see if we had any ideas on how to help this poor creature. 

I was on scene by 3:00 PM. The animal's moans were unlike anything I'd ever heard. It's unusual for an adult animal to cry out, so, this meant the animal was in extreme distress. Just heartbreaking.

By the time I arrived, water had started to collect around the animal's body. Every time it tried to rest its head, it's mouth and nose went into the water. We needed to get that water level down, fast! 

We used shovels to remove some of the sludge at the bottom of the catch basin to allow water to drain away from the raccoon. Mo, with La Princesa Market helped scoop out the water. Thank you, Mo!!!

Then, Carlos and I then ran through possible rescue scenarios, but none of the usual tactics or tools would work in this case. 

We called the City of Watsonville Public Works and Utilities to see if they had any ideas - any devices for storm drains that might help us un-wedge this poor animal.

Henry Cervantes, Utility Crew Leader for Watsonville arrived in about 15 minutes. He scoped out the situation and agreed with my suggestion - that the only way we're going to reach this animal is if we cut through the asphalt to the pipe.

That plan didn't set well with Bill, the property manager. He would not grant us permission to dig up the newly paved parking lot... but, the property owner, Shirley - a real animal lover, gave us the go-ahead... under one condition - that we put it back the way we found it. 


It was close to 5:00 PM. Carlos needed to clock out, but he would return to volunteer. Henry, too, said he'd return to help. Duane had been working all day in Monterey - he stopped by our home to grab shovels and other tools. Mary Dalton, one of our star volunteers and member of Native Animal Rescue (NAR), drove to Home Depot to pick up a masonry saw we rented. NAR's raccoon rehabilitator, Monique and her son Ronan were on the way with first aid supplies. 

By 6:15 we were making the first cut. Henry made it look easy!

But, the handheld saw would only cut so deep! 

Henry took out his cell phone and placed a call. I overheard the start of his conversation with one of his crew. Hey, Alex, what are you doing right now? (You know it's not good when your boss calls you at 6:30 on a Friday night, right?).  

Wow! Alex Torres and this ginormous utilities truck was on site by 7:00! (These guys are FAST!)

Then the jackhammering began. Then the shoveling of hard-packed decomposed granite. Then finally they were close - they used a probe to find the pipe. Then more cutting and shoveling.... Finally, with the cement pipe exposed, they started cutting through. Once again, Mary helped by going back to Home Depot for diamond wheels for the grinder. 

By 9:00, the pipe was opened up. Wearing heavy leather gloves, Duane reached inside the pipe. The smell was awful.

Duane felt one rear leg and a tail. He tried to pull gently and push, but nothing. No movement. I tried. I let the animal push back against my hand, but no movement at all. He was in real trouble.

We needed to get to the top of the pipe that was holding the animal down. Earlier, we'd marked the pavement where the animal's body was. The guys got to work digging towards the front of the raccoon. 

By 10:30, the length of the pipe was exposed and the team had sliced through the sides of the cement. 

Using crowbars, the team started to pry open the pipe, relieving pressure on the raccoon. Carlos was ready wth the net in case it bolted. Monique and Mary were ready with the animal carrier, but, sadly, as the pipe was lifted, there was little movement. 

Duane managed the large raccoon from the pipe and placed him on warming pads inside the carrier. It was still alive - unresponsive, but alive.

Monique and Ronan rushed the raccoon to a veterinarian in Santa Cruz who was willing to treat him.

The raccoon survived the transport. It arrived alive but unresponsive. 

He was severely hypothermic - his core body temperature was so low it didn't even register on a thermometer. He was also severely dehydrated and shocky. They wrapped him in warming blankets and began administering warm fluids intravenously - he took 300 ML!

By 1:00 AM, he was looking a little better. His temperature began to register. There was hope.

By about 3:00 AM, he started to move a bit. He was even able to ambulate some, but then he collapsed. He died at about 4:00 AM.

The veterinarian believed the large male raccoon had been entrapped for over 24 hour - possibly a couple of days. A closer inspection revealed he'd lost a couple of digits in his struggle to escape. Heartbreaking.

In the end, we believe the animal entered the shopping center's drainage system through an open storm drain. We think he just took a wrong turn that led him into a pipe that got tighter and tighter. With no way to turn around and a resistance to backing up as far as he'd have to - the raccoon struggled forward with hope of finding an exit. Eventually he got wedged in so tight he couldn't budge.

We believe the raccoon had been in the drain longer than a day, and, like the veterinarian said, it's body was shutting down. It had just been too long. We believe something called exertional/capture myopathy also played a role in its death. Explained HERE, exertional myopathy is where an animal strains too long, and there's no bringing them back. They can die immediately, or hours, even days later. 

So sad. So much effort went into trying to save this one animal's life. 

While the final outcome was unfortunate, we did what needed to be done. It was the right thing to do. 

Going into the new year,...if I can get a little personal,... this is what I want to do more of - the right thing. 

We all have that little voice inside, you know... those internal conversations where we weigh our decisions... What's the right thing to do?

This rescue recharged my hope in humanity. Belief that most little voices know to relieve suffering is the right thing to do, regardless the species, and that to go to great lengths is acceptable.

Carlos, Henry and Alex chose to spend their Friday night jackhammering into a parking lot, and Shirley, such incredible kindness and trust. It just shows what we can do when we band together - we accomplished something that at first seemed so implausible.

That's all it really takes, isn't it... belief and will...

Anyway, a huge, huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped with this rescue!!! 

Oh, and maybe some of you are wondering about the parking lot...

We spent all day yesterday trying to get the hole filled. Duane found a pipe supply house that was open on a Saturday - even on a holiday weekend. He cut and mended the pipe, and by afternoon I'd found someone to fill the hole with cement slurry and made arrangements with the paving company to patch it on Tuesday. Duane and I and a friend cleaned up the pile of asphalt chunks and decomposed granite, and swept up. Special thanks to Z. A. for helping us out.

If you'd like to pitch in towards the $1,142.00 it's costing to repair, fill and patch the hole, that would be amazing. Here's the link to make a contribution - click HERE, or you can send a check to WES at Box 65, Moss Landing, CA 95039. Thank you so much.

Happy New Year!!!

A very nice acknowledgement from PETA.

Nov 30, 2016

Coyote caught on a fence

Yesterday afternoon we were referred a call about a coyote that was found hanging by its legs, caught in what appeared to be a barbed wire fence. It was first noticed around 3:00 PM. 

Duane and Rebecca responded. Check out the video below. The coyote was transported to the Wildlife Center for Silicon Valley where it was examined and found to have some soft tissue damage. Under their excellent care the coyote stands a good chance of returning to the wild. 

Thank you Wildlife Center for Silicon Valley!

UPDATE: 1-1-17

The coyote has since been released back to her home territory!

Nov 26, 2016

Mountain lion cub

On Friday afternoon, Wildlife Emergency Services received a request from a warden with the Department of Fish and Wildlife for assistance with a mountain lion cub in south San Jose. 

The young cat was first observed walking in a residential neighborhood near the Almaden Golf and Country Club. It quickly took refuge under a parked car.

Representatives from the local Fire Department, Santa Clara County Parks and local law enforcement assisted the Department of Fish and Wildlife in containing the young lion under the vehicle, using pieces of plywood to block its escape.

Once on scene, capture specialists Duane Titus and Rebecca Dmytryk placed a large animal carrier up against the car and removed a section of plywood, hoping the cat could be encouraged into the crate. A large blanket was draped over the carrier to make it dark and hopefully inviting. 

Park rangers held the crate and boards in place while, on the opposite side of the car, Duane opened a section of the wooden barrier and used a catch-pole to get the cat to move. It wasn’t long - maybe a minute, before the cat took refuge inside the carrier. Park rangers used plywood to block its escape, then the crate was tipped on end so the grate door could be attached.

The young cat, estimated to be close to 4 months old, appeared thin and dehydrated. Because of its condition, we suspect it had been separated from its mother for a few days and had wandered into town out of desperation.

The cat was provided fluids and warmth and transported to Dr. Deana Clifford at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's, Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova lab for care and evaluation.


Nov 19, 2016

Double trouble for a skunk

By Rebecca Dmytryk

This may turn out to be a bit more of an opinionated piece than a straightforward account... This rescue left me pissed and sad... 

It was close to 10:00 AM when WES received a information about a skunk caught in netting at the Landmark Elementary School in Watsonville. Apparently it was caught in a soccer goal, and a game was about to start. I told the reporting party to keep the area clear of people and as quiet as possible.

Duane and I were on scene in about 40 minutes. A kids soccer game was underway. Yelling, cheering, coaches' whistles, just a few yards away from the poor skunk - its front left paw caught in a heavy-duty snap trap and tangled in the netting.

The soccer game continued as we slowly approached the animal and Duane began cutting away the netting. Chirp-chirp-chirrrrp from a whistle, parents yelling, coaches barking just yards away from us trying to help this poor animal in distress. 

Were the children really not interested in watching a wild animal get rescued? Were the adults that insensitive? Was this just an inconvenience to them? 

This could have been an amazing learning experience for the children (and adults). What a great opportunity to teach about humanity, compassion, respect for other living things. But the game went on... 

...until I couldn't take one more blast from that damned whistle! 

Unnerved, I tried to ask as nicely as possible if they would please stop for five minutes... just give us five minutes of quiet. 

Remarkably, they stopped.

It only took a couple of minutes before we had the skunk free... his paw, deformed from the powerful jaws of the trap. 

Scruffed and bundled, we carried him across the field to the rescue truck, nodding to the few spectators who applauded our work. (Thank you!)

A chirp from the whistle and the game was back on again.

We delivered the skunk to Native Animal Rescue's skunk rehabilitator, Monique, where he will be examined and treated for his injuries, and, with luck, he'll be returned to the wild.

Hoping the skunk makes a full recovery, I am less optimistic about our recovery... recovery from what we have become. We've lost something. We're not as kind and forgiving, or tolerant or accepting as we used to be, it seems. When it comes to just the very basic knowledge of our natural world, we're incredibly lacking. Just the other day, someone tried to tell me a spider was not an animal. 

How did we get here? More importantly, how do we recover?

Children are born curious and open-minded, waiting to explore the world - they aren't born fearful... they learn it. They learn to have compassion. They learn to express empathy. Parents, teach your children well. Take a moment every day to kindness.

Nov 6, 2016

A challenging coyote rescue

Yesterday, a coyote was struck by a vehicle on Highway 101, northbound, in south San Jose. It was reported in the right lanes. At least two people notified local agencies, but none recovered the animal. 

This morning, we were notified by one of those parties that the coyote had not been rescued and was still alive, lying in a field up against a wire fence - apparently too badly injured to climb over it.

We immediately initiated a response.

Because it involved a major highway, we'd need Highway Patrol or another agency to assist. Warden Hampton with the Department of Fish and Wildlife made himself available. 

We also reached out to our on-call veterinarian, Dr. Chad Alves. He could evaluate the animal's condition in the field, and if the coyote was too badly injured he could euthanize it then and there and save it from the trauma of transport.

We convened in a parking lot just south of where the animal was reported. There, we assembled our capture nets, distributed heavy gloves and went over the rescue plan.

Planning is one of the most critical parts to a successful rescue. Rescuers must plan smartly for the safety of the people involved and the welfare of the animal. We cover this in great detail in our Wildlife Search and Rescue class (register for one of our 2017 classes, HERE) where we practice what's called Operational Risk Management, adapted from the U.S. Coast Guard's training - check it out, HERE.

None of us had driven by to check out the scene, so we based our initial plan on what information we'd received from Robert, the reporting party, who had driven by earlier to confirm the animal was still there and alive. He'd sent a couple of images which helped.

As a team, we looked at the pictures and we went over how we were going to approach the animal and the What Ifs. Then it was time.

Thankfully, Robert had left an orange cone on the shoulder of the freeway to mark where he'd seen the coyote. We pulled onto the shoulder - the rescue truck in front with the Fish and Wildlife vehicle behind us. There, we spotted the coyote - tucked against a wire fence, lying flat - motionless. It didn't look good.

Check out the video of the rescue.

The rescue went smoothly - everyone did an excellent job, but, the animal was in really bad shape. To be sure, we drove to a quiet parking lot nearby where Dr. Alves could sedate him and perform a through examination. 

The dog's front right leg was fractured, almost at the joint, and his urine was dark brown, indicating severe internal injuries, or possibly infection, and, there was blood in his stool. He also had an old mouth injury - an oral nasal fistula and missing upper canines, and his jaw appeared out of alignment. 

The hole in the roof of his mouth and missing canines was a puzzlement. Was he born without upper canines or did he lose them in the accident that caused the fistula? Had he been shot, or attacked by another animal? He was, otherwise, in excellent body condition with a beautiful coat - how was he able to survive so well? 

Due to the combination and severity of his injuries, Dr. Alves believed euthanasia was appropriate. The coyote went peacefully.

Thank you to everyone who helped rescue this poor wild dog!

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!!!