Nov 19, 2017

Readying for 2018

As we head into the holiday season and toward the new year, we wanted to give thanks to everyone who has supported our endeavors. You made it possible for us to save lives on so many fronts.

Your donations funded our emergency response team, which helped us rescue hundreds of wild animals that would have otherwise gone unassisted.

Your support helped us reach thousands of people through our workshops, speaking engagements, and seminars, where we shared our knowledge and expertise. 

You also helped fund lab tests that proved wild animals had been exposed to poison, helping us bring attention to the risk of rodenticides.

Now, as the year draws to a close, we'd like to ask for your continued support in 2018. 

To make a contribution, click HERE, or, check out the list of special projects below. 

Again, thank you for your past and continued support!

Rebecca Dmytryk
Founder and CEO

Rodenticide Screenings
Help us bring an end to anticoagulant rodenticide use. 

In 2018 we want to test more wildlife for anticoagulant rodenticide exposure to help establish how pervasive and dangerous these poisons are. We want to include deceased feral cats in this study. To our knowledge this has never been done. Each test costs $150.00. Click the Donate button below to contribute towards this project. Thank you for your support!

Coyote Capture Trap

Coyotes are by far the most difficult animals to capture. They do not go into cage traps readily. We would like to build and test a prototype of a large coyote "trap". If it proves successful, we would make this capture tool available to other organizations and agencies to safely capture coyotes in need of medical attention. Initial prototype $2,000.00. Includes radio for remote triggering. Click the Donate button below to contribute towards this project. Thank you! 

Education and Advocacy

Last year, WES founder, Rebecca Dmytryk, was appointed to the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Predator Policy Workgroup. The group of 10 was tasked with reviewing the State's wildlife policies and regulations and proposing changes. Unfortunately, the workgroup made little progress, but Dmytryk is committed to the job. She will lead an informal workgroup to continue the important work - reviewing the regulations and proposing changes to better reflect today's conservation values. 

Also for 2018, WES has a number of speaking engagements already calendared, including two presentations in Southern California on Living With Urban Coyotes and three wildlife capture and handling trainings. 

Click the Donate button below to help cover costs of travel to provide our educational presentations and attend Fish and Game commission meetings throughout the state. Thank you for your support!

Basic Supplies

We'd like to provide our lead responders with a couple of new nets with custom bags for special rescues, and resupply them with gloves, safety glasses, masks, hand cleaner, towels and sheets, and a small mammal carrier. Each kit, including the nets, will run us about $85.00. Click the Add to Cart button below to purchase a kit for one of our lead rescuers. Thank you! 

Quad-County Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

And if you have $500,000.00 sitting around that you don't know what to do with, we're looking to establish a wildlife center to serve San Benito and surrounding counties. Desperately needed. This includes two salaried positions for three years at $50,000.00 each - for a Wildlife Care Manager and Rescue Coordinator, and $200,000.00 for start-up, enclosures, supplies and general operating expenses over 3 years. We need a backer before we can be serious about any kind or lease agreement. Please contact if you're interested or have any ideas or questions. 

Thank you!!!!

Oct 28, 2017

The real horror of fake spider webbing

This bee was found dead - entangled in the filaments of fake spider web decor at a home of the West Side.  

Just a reminder to all, about how dangerous the fake spider web material can be to wildlife - especially flying animals that don't have the strength or ability to break away from the manmade material.

Here's a story of an owl that was snagged by the webbing. Thankfully, it was rescued in time. Not so for these bees, pictured here.

Please, please do not use this material outside!

Sep 30, 2017

Another bobcat with mange

By Rebecca Dmytryk

On Tuesday, WES was referred a call about a bobcat with mange in Aptos. A resident had seen it drinking from their pool in the mornings, for about three days in a row. They sent a photo showing a very thin, very ill cat.

I arrived on scene at about 9 the next morning. A beautiful mediterranean-style home atop a hill surrounded by oak woodlands and agricultural fields. 

I set a large cage-trap in the backyard, positioning it along the path the cat would take to drink from the pool, and baited it with a bit of rotisserie chicken and some raw venison pet food. Yellow jackets swarmed in quickly. 

A few yards away, the pool sweeper hissed and spit water onto the patio. I worried this might hamper the rescue but there was no way to turn it off.

With the house empty and the yard quiet, I sat in the rescue truck and watched and waited, and listened for birds to alarm. About every 15 minutes I'd check the trap from a distance. Nothing.

By 10:40 there'd been no sign of the cat and it had grown uncomfortably hot. I packed up the trap and headed down the long wooded driveway, and of course, there was the bobcat. It skirted in front of the truck and stared as I drove by, slowly. 

I went to the bottom of the driveway and turned around. As I headed back up the hill, the cat had made its way closer to the path that led to the backyard. 

I rushed to get the trap set, then back to the truck before being seen.

Too late! 

As I rounded the truck to jump in the driver's seat, there it was, some 30 yards away on the edge of the driveway - stationary, staring at me. 

I got in the truck and closed the door quietly. The cat disappeared into the bushes, headed in the right direction. Out of sight, I hopped back out and ran to the backyard through another gate on the opposite side of the pool. 

Finally she appeared. This poor bobcat. So emaciated, so covered in mange. Heartbreaking. And we probably did this to her.

As she walked to the edge of the pool, the skimmer gurgled and spit water - she barely reacted. She was driven by incredible thirst.

Animals that consume poisoned rodents - rodents that have eaten bait containing anticoagulants, receive a dose of the poison. One poison-laced mouse might not be enough to kill a healthy bobcat, but, these powerful agents build up in an animal's organs, and, after a certain point, the immune system is compromised and the anticoagulants cause internal hemorrhaging. Blood loss then triggers intense thirst. 

From across the pool I documented the bobcat as she drank, and drank, and drank. 

After about 10 minutes, she shook her wet paws and started to walk towards the trap. I thought for sure she'd notice the food, but, she didn't even look at it. She walked right by the trap, climbed a wall, and settled in a patch of sunlight to groom herself. 

So disappointing. I thought for sure I'd need to return with live bait to catch her attention. 

After about 15 minutes I decided to try and get some footage of her resting. When she wasn't looking, I positioned myself directly across the pool from where she was. 

The poor thing - she was in such bad shape, and it was so frustrating - she was right there, but I couldn't get her. The huntress in me was thinking of all the ways I might try to capture her, but none was as sure as the trap. I needed to keep hold of patience and hope. 

After a few minutes she became a bit restless and then, to my surprise, she got up and hopped back down the wall, presumably for more water - then she noticed the food in the trap.

I felt a rush of adrenaline as she approached the trap and started working the side of the cage with her claws, desperately trying to get at the chicken breast. My heart was racing. Then I got shot with a spray from the stupid pool skimmer.  

The bobcat kept working the side of the cage as yellow jackets buzzed her face. I worried she'd trip the door. 

Finally, annoyed with the wasps, she made her way around to the front of the trap and, without any hesitation, walked right in and tripped the pedal. Done. 

I grabbed a bed sheet from the truck and covered the trap to carry her to the rescue truck. She was calm. Not a good sign.

It was about an hour's drive to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley where she would receive expert care. 

They took her weight - she was just over 8 pounds, and, in spite of it being an extremely hot day, her temperature was only 98.

She died Friday afternoon. 

This once beautiful thriving feline queen of the woodlands was brought to nothing but bones and fur and flesh - her wild life slowly faded as she suffered horribly in her final days, gripping to precious life, and we probably did this to her.

If this story saddens you - if you feel anger or outrage, allow your emotions to empower you - to move you to action. Arm yourself with facts about rodenticides (some links below), be ready to take a stance - be ready to speak up and speak out because we are headed for battle. We are going to outlaw anticoagulant rodenticides - we must!

We will be sending her body to UC Davis for a necropsy to determine the cause of death and what poisons may have contributed to her demise. If you want to donate specifically to anticoagulant testing or our efforts to ban anticoagulant rodenticides, click HERE. And thank you!

Why Poisons Matter

Updated info

EPA's 2008 Risk Mitigation Doc 

Poisons Still For Sale

List of research studies

Map of bobcats reported to WES. ORANGE = suffering from mange, BLACK = suffering from mange and captured, BLUE = observed healthy, GREEN = captured, treated for mange and AR exposure and released.

Sep 10, 2017

Skunk caught in 2 rat traps

This is certainly one for the record books - a skunk caught in - not one, but two rat traps.

A growing problem since the invention of the "new and improved" rat and mouse snap traps with serrated jaws. 

Unlike the the old fashioned smooth-edged snap traps that larger animals could slip out of, these newer traps have a stronger grip and "teeth" that make it impossible for animals to escape.

This young skunk ventured into a yard that had snap traps set outdoors by a barbecue grill that rats had been attracted to. Drawn by the smell of the grill or the rodents or the peanut butter bait, this poor skunk got both its front paws caught  - just a horrible accident and so avoidable.

Snap traps are not intended for use outdoors without being inside a protective case to prevent other animals from caught and injured. Unfortunately, as was the case in this situation, there was nothing on the packaging or in the instructions warning the consumer of the potential risk to other animals and the precautions necessary to avoid something like this from happening.

WES is petitioning the manufacturers of these types of traps for better labeling so accidents like this one - which could cost this skunk its life, don't happen.

Clearly preventable!

Please, add your voice, here:

Aug 20, 2017

Another skunk with its head stuck in a Yoplait container

Late last night we were forwarded a call from our local animal shelter. A skunk was found in someone's backyard - it's head stuck in a Yoplait yogurt container. 

Unfortunately this is not uncommon.

Check out the rescue video:

We started a petition - if you have not added your voice, please do so, now, HERE. The official website is HERE.

Aug 19, 2017

Tame bobcat found in Hollister

For about 6 weeks, our San Benito County branch has been receiving calls about a bobcat wandering through yards in the quiet community of Ridgemark. Deanna Barth, who heads up the wildlife rescue efforts in Hollister, said the reports started coming on June 25th.

Reports ranged from mere observations to stories of it drinking water from someone's pool. These sightings didn’t seem out of the ordinary. Deanna responded by educating the reporting parties on methods of hazing to scare the wild cat off - which works on truly wild animals. But, then the reports started to get a little peculiar. 

One person reported the cat entered their home through an open sliding glass door while they were showering. They were understandably surprised to see it sitting in their bedroom. Another party described it following them and at one point “leg-rubbing”, as cats will do - but not wild bobcats.

Once we received reports of the bobcat acting as if it were imprinted or tame, we organized a capture effort. It was as much for the cat’s safety as it was for the residents. Most of the reporting parties were unsettled by their encounter with the feline - it was only a matter of time before something bad happened.

Last night Deanna Barth headed up rescue efforts. She was joined by the groups founder, Rebecca Dmytryk.

After canvassing the area off Sonny's Lane, where the cat was most often encountered, they walked the south service road. 

Just after sunset, they spotted the bobcat in the adjacent field, peeking out of the tall grass. 

Then they did something these wildlife capture experts never do when pursuing injured or ill bobcats - they started calling “Kitty, kitty, kitty!”. 

Sure enough, the bobcat responded. Deanna instinctively walked away, leading it into one of the open backyards it frequented. 

The cat bounded into the yard, and then out the side yard to the street where the rescue vehicle was parked.

Dmytryk was there with options of treats to test the cat - to see what they might use to lure it into a carrier.

The cat responded by approaching and sniffing the offerings, but quickly became disinterested. It walked off toward the golf course. Deanna trailed it.

Finally, on a walking path, Deanna used a cat toy on a string to get the cat's attention focused while Dmytryk stood in wait with a large hoop net. The capture and containment went smoothly. 

The cat will be observed for a few days while possible permanent placement in a sanctuary is found. While it appears to be a bobcat, there are some features - the eyes and coat that aren't quite right. WES will be looking into a DNA test.

In the meantime, the group is seeking information on the cat’s history, when and where it was first observed by residents. They are hoping to find where it came from. Anyone with information or who had an encounter with the email the detail to

Aug 12, 2017

Help Protect Wildlife From Rat Traps - sign the petition!

Sign the petition now, HERE.

This week we had 5 calls from the Santa Cruz County area about skunks caught in rat traps.

Over the years we've seen an increase in the number of incidents involving larger animals caught in the newer rat traps - the ones with serrated jaws. HERE is news coverage from couple of years ago.

These traps are especially dangerous because the interlocking teeth make "escape virtually impossible" for rodents, as well as larger animals. 
While snap traps are not meant to be placed outdoors, unprotected, where they pose a serious risk to other animals, the labeling and directions on use are not clear enough. We're hoping to change that.
Back in 2014, WES reached out to Bell Laboratories, the manufacturer of the brand of traps we were finding. We asked them to consider adding warning labels to help reduce the number of non-target wildlife injuries. They said they'd look into it.
That same year, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company acquired Tomcat, the consumer brand of rodent traps manufactured by Bell Laboratories.
Time went by and more and more animals were injured by these spring-loaded traps, including wild birds, and deer!
In March 2016, WES contacted Bell Laboratories again, and Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, asking them to add a distinct warning label to packaging and include safety precautions specific to wildlife, pets and children in marketing sell sheets, instructions, and in training material for industry professionals.
Bell Laboratories made changes to their products' web page and sell sheet, clarifying non-target exposure and how it can be prevented. See the changes, HERE

While we appreciate the steps taken by Bell Laboratories, we'd like to see them help protect pets and wildlife by doing more.
Join us in asking Bell Laboratories and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, leading manufacturers of these types of rat traps, to add warning labels and precautionary statements to product packaging, instructions on use and promotional material, including videos, and require distributors to also display warnings on outdoor use where these products are sold - in stores and online.
Please sign the petition and share:

Thank you!

Aug 11, 2017

Baby raccoon in a storm drain - with mom

We responded to a call last night about a baby raccoon in a storm drain near Cabrillo College. The reporting party said they'd heard it earlier, that morning. They also indicated there might have been two babies, at one point.

We arrived on scene at about 9:30 pm. We could see a young "teenage" raccoon looking up from one of the drain pipes - very vocal, crying for mom... and then all of a sudden the mother popped up from the other side and growled a warning. 

Check out the video.

Raccoons tend to have multiple den sites and will often move their young from one site to another if they feel their young are in danger. 

For more on the fascinating raccoon, watch Raccoon Nation. Find the full Nature episode, HERE.

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

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.