Nov 7, 2014

Heron shot! Reward offered!

Image courtesy Wildlife Center at SPCA for Monterey County.

Radiographs of the great blue heron that was rescued last week in Hollister (full story HERE) revealed the bird was shot with lead pellets from an air rifle.

State and federal authorities have been notified and thanks to supporters we are able to offer a $5,050.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for this crime.

Yesterday, Animal Legal Defense Fund added to the reward, raising it to $6,050.00 (THANK YOU ALDF!) and today one of their supporters added another $200.00!

The bird was found off of Glenview Drive, near the Ridgemark community. WES' Deanna Barth captured the bird and delivered it to the SPCA for Monterey County.

Herons frequent open fields where they prey on gophers, ground squirrels and snakes. They are also found near ponds and creeks where they prey on fish. 

Although these birds are naturally shy of people, they have been known to land in backyards that have shallow fish ponds. Ponds must be a minimum of 3' deep to adequately protect them from predators such as herons or raccoons.

Report information confidentially through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife CalTip line at 1-888-334-2258 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 650-876-9078.

Download the Reward Flyer, HERE.

To add to the reward amount, please email us, HERE.

The bird is currently in care at International Bird Rescue in Fairfield. In addition to being shot, the bird sustained a broken wing. 

If you'd like to contribute to the care of this bird, please consider supporting IBR with a donation, HERE.

Great blue heron in care at International Bird Rescue. Photo Credit Cheryl Reynolds/IBR.

Nov 6, 2014

Ailing Song Dog near Brentwood

Many thanks to Dave Harper for sharing his photographs of an ill coyote. The dog is suffering from mange. It can be cured, but the trick is capturing the "trickster". Coyotes are very difficult to catch. We'll see if we can't come up with a plan. We'll need all-hour volunteers for tracking/monitoring. Email us if you're interested, HERE.

Photo credit Dave Harper all rights reserved.

Photo credit Dave Harper all rights reserved.

Dave Harper maintains a blog called Local Wildlife, showcasing some of his amazing photographs of native species of the Bay Area. You can find it HERE.

Nov 5, 2014

2015 Wildlife SAR Trainings

We're pleased to announce our 2015 schedule of classes. 

Our Wildlife Search and Rescue Basic Skills class is designed for those who frequently encounter injured animals - like animal control officers, park rangers, wildlife officers and wildlife rehabilitators, but the class is basic enough for the novice interested in getting involved in working with wildlife.

The all day training covers laws and regulations, human safety, capture strategies and basic animal first aid.

This year, we've added a second day for hands on practice with capture equipment.

We offer these classes once a year to help boost local skills and recruit new volunteers for our state-wide team of First Responders. 
This year's schedule of basic training classes is as follows:

January 9th 9:00 - 5:00 

at the Napa Valley College Room 838
2277 Napa Vallejo Highway, Napa, CA

January 16th 9:00 - 5:00

at the City of San Jose Animal Care and Services
2750 Monterey Rd, San Jose, CA 95111

January 23rd 9:00 - 5:00 

at the Elkhorn Yacht Club in Moss Landing
2370 California 1, Moss Landing, CA 95039

January 31st 9:00 - 5:00 

at the Berkeley Shoreline Nature Center
160 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

February 13th 9:00 - 5:00 

at Docweiler Youth Center
12505 Vista Del Mar, Los Angeles 90245

Nov 2, 2014

Familiar gull

Duane and Rebecca were at the Santa Cruz municipal wharf on Sunday, looking for an injured gull that had been reported. 

They happened across this handsome gull - it looked familiar.

After checking records and photographs, indeed, this bird had been "through" WES before! One of WES' lead responders, Deanna Barth, had removed fishing line from this bird back in March, 2013. Check out the post, HERE.

It's great to see the gull doing well in spite of its deformity. Go gull!!!

Nov 1, 2014

Injured heron captured after 3 months

 By Rebecca Dmytryk

Photo by nature photographer Kim Moore.

It was July 29th when we received a call through our hotline about a juvenile great blue heron at El Dorado Regional Park in Long Beach, California - its right foot entangled in fishing line.

The reporting party, Jill Brennan, first noticed the injured bird about two weeks earlier. Since then, she'd been trying to find help - someone to capture it and remove the line, with no luck.

Throughout the United States, there are very, very, very few agencies or organizations that offer assistance with difficult animal rescues such as this one - even fewer that specialize in wildlife, and fewer, still, that are trained, equipped, skilled and experienced. 

The Los Angeles area is no exception. There's my dear friend Peter Wallerstein, who runs Marine Animal Rescue day and night and still has a tough time keeping up with the many animals in need of assistance. Then there's The California Wildlife Center (my baby), but it's rare to see them extend service beyond Malibu and they could not spare anyone for this great blue. There's aquatic bird specialists, International Bird Rescue, in San Pedro, where the heron would be taken for medical treatment, but they do not offer local response. Then there's the Specialized Mobile Animal Rescue Team (S.M.A.R.T.) - a group of amazingly skilled rescuers, but, the program is administrated through the Los Angeles City Animal Services and their service area does not include Long Beach. Then there's the Long Beach Animal Control, with field officers who do perform wildlife rescues, but have limited experience in capturing flighted birds... 

Photo taken August 12th by Kim Moore.

WES' Los Angeles team has only a few members (but is growing), and none had used a snare before... but was about to.

On July 31st, two of our volunteer first responders, Carole Elkins and her husband Bill, drove from their home near Griffith Park to meet Jill in Long Beach. 

They found the bird fairly quickly and were able to coax the heron close by tossing small bits of fish.

Over the past couple of weeks, Jill had worked on developing her relationship with the young bird, visiting the park every morning and making offerings of fish to gain the bird's trust - something that would ultimately be key to its capture.

We do not condone the feeding and habituation of wild animals as it usually ends up being a "death sentence" for that individual, but when trying to capture an injured yet very mobile animal, it is often a necessity.

As instructed, Carole set out a single snare of Dacron line, the type of line used to capture the L.A. River blue back in December, and then sat back, unassumingly, as Bill baited the bird close.

The heron approached slowly, gracefully, deliberately and finally, into the center of the snare.

Carole whipped the line and, for a moment, she had the bird,... but not for long - the heron folded its toes and slipped through the hoop.

The wonderful thing about the single-snare technique, is that you can try and fail multiple times with minor insult. The birds rarely suspect the person, forgiving moving sticks and flailing line quite quickly. It's not like chasing after a bird with a net, where there will be no second chance.

Unfortunately, though, it would be a couple of weeks before Carole could return for a second attempt. In the meantime, Jill kept up her morning visits, building the bird's trust. Jill was wholeheartedly committed to saving this heron she affectionately named Roger.

A resident of Long Beach, Jill routinely visits El Dorado Park. Over the years, inspired by her love of animals and nature and her training as a physical therapist, she has rescued hundreds of birds - mostly fishing line entanglements. 

On August 18th, Carole returned to El Dorado Park for another capture attempt. The heron was unusually skittish. Here is her report:
Hey, Rebecca, 
Wish I had better news. I got to El Dorado at 8:30 a.m., found the juvie GBHE, and set up just as before. Unfortunately, from the start, I noticed his behavior was dramatically different. He wouldn't come near enough to take the bait. After an hour of trying to lure him while mildly testing his behavior, he flew across the lake and out of range. He seems very frightened, as if someone has been attempting to catch him. At this point, I'm not sure what the best course is. He looks well nourished but that foot is much worse. So frustrating!
I had a meeting in Los Angeles scheduled for September 2nd, so I decided to drive down a few days earlier to try and capture the heron. In the meantime, Jill kept up her visits with Roger.

On August 31st, I met Jill at the park entrance just before it opened at 7:00. A large banner at the entrance to the park warned fishermen about the dangers of loose, abandoned fishing line...

Image by wildlife photographer Steve Shinn.
Jill led the way through the large sprawling park to the body or water in Area III, where the heron was seen regularly.

There he was. Waiting.

I set up a noose made of Dacron and walked Jill through the plan of how she will toss scraps of fish closer and closer and then finally on the other side of the snare with the hope of him stepping perfectly into the center of it.

Photo by nature photographer Kim Moore.

Photo by nature photographer Kim Moore.

The line I was using was white. Clearly visible. The heron approached close, but not close enough.

On Day Two we offered live fish, which he liked, and we tried a mechanical land seine net, but it wasn't tall enough - he flew straight up and over...

Photo by nature photographer Kim Moore.

For Day Three, I decided to try something different - an underwater noose mat.

Noose mats can be made by attaching numerous snares to a piece of mesh - like hardware cloth. The idea is to "walk" a bird over the mat where, if lucky, the bird will become snared. 

I needed the base to be flexible - to shape to the contours of the pond bottom. I found a volleyball net on sale at a sporting goods store that would do nicely. 

Instead of using monofilament line which tends to curl like party ribbon, I decided to try nylon coated steel wire - the kind we now use to make the loops on our bal chatri.

Creating so many nooses would take time, but our team rallied. Carole Elkins generously provided her home, and long time friend and wildlife rescuer Julie Adelson volunteered to help. 

It was a really nice afternoon. We sat in the shade sipping ice cold lemonade and catching up while perfecting our noose-making skills. 

By late afternoon we'd completed one mat. That evening, back at my hotel room, I made an additional two mats - one with very large hoops.

It was Tuesday - the day after Labor Day. 

Jill and I met at the little lake in Area III. Roger was there, waiting.

He patiently watched as I placed one of the noose mats in the shallow water, securing it to two heavy block and checking that the loops were open.  
Photo by nature photographer Kim Moore.

Photo by nature photographer Kim Moore.

We used chunks of fresh frozen tilapia to lure Roger through the nooses. 

We had him walking back and forth and through and all over the mat with no luck.

From time to time I would check the snares to open any collapsed nooses, but after 4 hours, I had to give up.

Feeling pretty disillusioned and frustrated, I thought of little else during the 6-hour drive home. Tough rescues like this one consume me - I run through possible strategies - what might work - what won't, "feel-seeing" my way through various scenarios.

When planning the capture of an animal, you have to take everything into consideration, the landscape, the species' biology, the individual's character. Plans take form and evolve, heuristically, through trial and error, with mistakes being as valuable as successes. It is through our mistakes - through our failures that we learn - that we perfect our methods and hone our skills.

A few days passed. I'd run through our capture attempts in my mind, ad nauseum, to wake one morning knowing that we must put more effort into the single-snare method. 

I drew up plans, but could not find anyone available to attempt a capture. 

It would be weeks before I returned to Los Angeles.

On September 25th, Jill  wrote:
Hi Rebecca,
Do you know if someone tried to capture that GBHE last Friday or Saturday? 
I saw it last Thursday morning, and it was status quo. Unfortunately later that day I broke my toe and had great difficulty walking on uneven surfaces and was not able to monitor it on Friday or Saturday morning. 
Sunday morning I hobbled back out and was stunned to see the GBHE limping very badly on that right leg and it would not come within 100' of me.
Monday morning I could not get it to come anywhere near. 
Wednesday morning, it still would not come close, so I put out a few small fish and backed way up, and it finally flew in. 
This morning, it approached me within 20' and again I left fish and backed away and it limped over to eat them.
I called the LA Animal Services to request the SMART team but they don't cover Long Beach and they advised me to call Long Beach Animal Care Services. 
While LBACS does pick up and provide transport for injured wildlife, I doubt they're up for a flighted bird.

Weeks passed and Roger's injury worsened. 

On October 24th, Jill wrote:
Roger has now acquired more line on that right foot, trailing line behind him. He was tethered with the new line for a day, then managed to pull it away from his left leg. No one here is comfortable with the snaring so great news you will be in town. 

Image by wildlife photographer Steve Shinn.

Jill stayed in touch, keeping me posted on Roger's health. She kept up her daily visits, strengthening her relationship with the bird.

It was mid-morning on October 30th when Jill and I rendezvoused at the park. Wildlife photographer Steve Shinn was also on hand to help.

While Steve and Jill canvased the area looking for the injured bird, I picked the spot to lay the snare, close to where Jill had been meeting the heron each morning.

Image by wildlife photographer Steve Shinn.

This time, I was using the 30 lb test nylon-coated stainless steel wire we used to make the nooses. Plush grass held the loop up off the ground a couple of inches. 

I ran the line, taught, about 12' to the tip of a very long willow branch, then to my wrist. 

We were ready. 

Jill made her usual sounds and within seconds the bird flew in to the grassy area near a picnic table.

The bird appeared eager, but cautious, seemingly aware of the two strange ones. Even after the first fish was tossed, the heron spied us with reservation.

A few more tosses and Roger seemed to have adjusted to our presence, but still retreated quickly after picking up a fish.

There's finesse to all of this - to tossing the bait just so, to subtle changes in posture. It's a dance.

By about the 6th or 7th fish, I felt a surge of adrenaline... I'd read him - he was about to step into the snare... least he was stepping where I thought the snare was but I couldn't see it... ...neither could the heron.

Roger stepped forward, he leaned in. I went for it. I flicked the willow stick and heard the line whizz through the air... then I felt it - the tug - the live weight on the end of the line. I had him.

Jill quickly helped me gather the line. I grabbed the bird's head to control its sharp bill. Jill tucked in the bird's wings and helped me gather its body before she removed the snare from its leg. 

We had him. We finally had him. This poor, poor, poor bird.

I drove Roger to International Bird Rescue in San Pedro where medical staff examined him briefly before placing him in an enclosure to rest. He would be given a thorough examination and his condition would be evaluated by their veterinarian. It was no surprise, though, that the prognosis was not good.

A huge Thank You! to photographers Kim Moore and 
Steve Shinn for capturing images of our rescue attempts.

If you'd like to become a volunteer responder on our Los Angeles wildlife rescue team, please fill out an application HERE, and register for our Wildlife Search and Rescue Training on February 13th, and the hands-on training on the 14th, HERE.

If you'd like to support our efforts to expand our wildlife rescue team in Los Angeles, which is to include a Pelican Patrol Boat, please make a contribution through the link below, or send a check payable to Wildlife Emergency Services to Box 65, Moss Landing, CA 95039. Thank you!!!

UPDATE: 11-12-14

We are thrilled to report that Roger is still alive and in recovery at International Bird Rescue! 

The injury was so severe that his middle toe had to be amputated, but, there is still hope of him making a full recovery to be released back into the wild, and that could not come soon enough. 

Captivity for these flighty, highly sensitive birds is extremely stressful. So much so, they must be sedated so they don't hurt themselves in their enclosures. 

If you'd like to help offset the cost of medical care for Roger, please make a donation using the button below. 100% of your gift will go to IBR for Roger's care. 

Oct 31, 2014

Rainy Halloween Rescue

It was raining heavily when WES received an emergency call about two juvenile raccoons stuck in a storm drain near Landmark Elementary School in Watsonville, California. 

WES' Duane Titus responded immediately.

On scene he found two cubs huddled together in a corner of the drain, water all around them. 

He pried open the drain cover and hauled the two youngsters to safety. One of them shot up a nearby redwood, where Duane thought he'd heard the mother. The other one, a bit more timid, scurried into shrubs below the tree.

Check out the video:


Oct 29, 2014

Trapped bobcat freed by wildlife officials

This week, Byron Jones, Wildlife Officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, released a trapped bobcat back into the wild. Check out the video below.

The bobcat was cage-trapped on a property where chickens had been killed. The poultry pen was built well enough to keep the chickens from escaping but it was not predator proof. 

The animal was freed and the land owner was advised on more appropriate housing and husbandry practices to keep from losing any more animals to the resident wildlife.

Section 401 of Title 14 in the California Code of Regulations requires certain information be collected before a depredation permit for a particular species can be issued - a permit allowing the "problem" animal(s) to be taken, or killed. This information includes a description of all non-lethal measures undertaken to prevent damage prior to requesting the permit and a description of corrective actions that will be implemented to prevent future damage.

Here are some helpful links to fencing, housing and husbandry:

GENERAL: Non-Lethal Predator Management


PERIMETER FENCING: Wildlife-Safe Fencing

WOLVES / COYOTES: A Guide to Nonlethal Tools

COYOTE: Urban Coyote Ecology and Management

BEAR: Short Term Recreational Safety Fence and Electric Fencing for Bear

MOUNTAIN LION: Keeping Livestock Safe

Image from Wildlife Online.

Image from Wildlife Online.

Image from Wildlife Online.

Oct 28, 2014

Skunk sawed free

By Rebecca Dmytryk

This afternoon, after rescuing the opossum in the cage trap, WES was referred another call from the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter. 

Apparently a skunk had gotten stuck in a fence bordering two properties. Its head-end was on one side and its business-end was at the neighbor's.

I used a sheet to shield me from the skunk's protest as I got a closer look at the situation. 

The skunk was in good shape - bright and alert and seemingly uninjured.

I was able to squeeze a couple of fingers between the skunk and the wood where I began cutting away using a hand saw.

Check out the video below.

Severe "humane" trap injury

By Rebecca Dmytryk

This morning, I responded to a call about an injured opossum. The reporting party said the animal was captured in a "humane" cage trap but that its teeth were somehow caught on the wire mesh.

When I arrived, I found a very sad and very damaged opossum in a wire cage trap. From the feces build up, it appeared as though the animal had been in the trap for some time - possibly more than 24 hours... maybe even longer.

Opossums are generally quiet, but this animal was very slow to respond. If I may anthropomorphize... as if it had given up.

The opossum's teeth were no longer stuck on the wire as the RP had mentioned, however, the opossum had sustained a severe mouth injury - it had a gaping wound on the right side of its mouth, exposing its lower jawbone. Horrible.

The cage was stained with blood. How long this animal struggled - how long it was in this wire cage trap, exposed to the elements, we don't know.

The owner of the property said her son in law had set the trap to catch skunks that had been getting into the garage... entering the garage at the base where there is about an 8" gap... 

I explained the California trapping regulations and warned her that this was not a legal "take" - that in order for her son-in-law to trap wildlife, he would have to contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife to get a number assigned to the trap and, in addition, he would have to get written consent of neighboring homeowners... and the animals would have to be killed or set free on site... blah, blah, blah... 


I transported the opossum to Native Animal Rescue - Santa Cruz's only wildlife care facility. 

Unfortunately, there are very few veterinarians in Santa Cruz who are willing to treat wildlife and none was available today. The animal needed immediate medical attention.

I contacted Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose, and they agreed to evaluate the opossum's injuries and provide medical treatment.

This afternoon, one of our first responders, Andrew Bear, volunteered to transport the animal from NAR to WCSV. 


UPDATE: 11-2-14

The opossum underwent surgery at WCSV and is in stable condition. There's hope for it to make a full recovery.


If you'd like to contribute to the opossum's medical "bills", please donate now. 100% of your gift will go toward its care.

Oct 27, 2014

Great Blue Heron Rescue

By Deanna Barth

When I was forwarded a call about a possibly injured great blue heron just a block away from my house, I was ecstatic! 

Let me clarify... I wasn’t happy it was injured or sick, but this would be my chance to finally see one of these magnificent birds up close.

The great blue heron is “my” bird - my home is filled with photos, paintings and statues of these beautiful creatures. I've just always been intrigued by them. While I've rescued numerous types of birds, I've yet to hold a Great Blue in my hands.  

Today, might be the day.  

Like a child going to Disneyland for the first time, I drove to the location with a smile from ear to ear.  

I arrived at the address and was met by a gentleman who anxiously showed me onto his property. It was obvious that he was very worried. 

As I followed Curt, I paused to enjoy the beauty and soothing sound of trickling water. The yard was lush with greenery draping over various rocks and bridges, and there was a pond filled with koi. Surrounding it were statues of great blue herons meant to ward off the real thing (but it doesn't work very well).  

I complimented Curt's work and he proudly explained that his backyard had been certified by the National Wildlife Federation.  

We continued around the back of his house to the side yard where the trash cans were kept. There it was - I could see the heron huddled in a corner. 

Without a thorough exam, it would be hard to say what was ailing this poor bird, but this was certainly not normal behavior. 

Herons are typically very skittish and flighty, never letting a person close before taking flight.

While it's not unusual to see a heron or egret in one's backyard - especially one that is so lush and with offerings of a fish pond, the bird's behavior is what clued us in to this being an ill or injured animal.

When the call was transferred from the Hollister Police Department to WES, Curt was asked to describe the bird's reaction to approach. When he said it ran away from him rather than fly, we knew something was wrong.

I approached the bird slowly with a large sheet in front of me, and I was able to stand within inches of the bird without it moving. 

Finally it made a feeble attempt to stand and flee but was too weak. It turned to face the corner and that's when I draped the sheet over its body to contain its wings.

Maintaining control of its head, I walked to my vehicle and loaded the heron into a large animal crate.

I contacted the SPCA for Monterey County Wildlife Center, and Staff was kind enough to meet me half way. 

My fingers are crossed for a good prognosis for my favorite bird.

Thank you to Curt for his deep concern for the heron’s well-being, and to the Hollister Police Department for referring the emergency call to us.

UPDATE: 11-2-14

Radiographs revealed the heron was shot! 

We have alerted authorities and are posting flyers in the vicinity for any information on who may have committed this crime. Thanks to supporters, we are able to offer a $5,050.00 reward. See our post, HERE.

If you'd like to add to the reward being offered, pledge by emailing us, HERE.

Image courtesy Wildlife Center at SPCA for Monterey County.

Oct 21, 2014

Golden eagle gets a second chance

Today, a golden eagle was returned to the wild after spending nearly a month in recuperative care at Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center (WERC) in Morgan Hill.

On September 28th, Wildlife Officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received a call from a resident of Morgan Hill. She'd been observing a large raptor perched on a fence, then watched as it was making its way across a field - on foot!

The officers responded to find the golden eagle very alert and wary - not letting them close. They watched as it made its way across the plowed field - flapping and gaining some elevation before landing again and scrambling on foot to reach a grove of trees

It was early evening. The bird instinctively wanted to get up high off the ground for the night. It could not fly well, but managed to get up into the low branches of a large oak. 

It was getting dark when a unit with County of Santa Clara Animal Shelter arrived with a long-handled net. 

Wildlife Officer Tyson Quintal used a flashlight to "blind" the bird, while Officer Chris Foster used the net to move the bird off the branch and onto the ground where they quickly gained control of the large bird's wings and sharp talons.

WERC arrived on scene and transported the animal back to their wildlife hospital. 

On examination, they found the young eagle had a puncture wound that hand ruptured an air sac. After weeks in care, she was ready to go home...

Oct 18, 2014

Young Cooper's hawk rescued from gymnasium

 Yesterday, Friday, we were transferred a call from San Jose Animal Care and Services - they needed help in rescuing a hawk trapped inside the gymnasium at Gunderson High School. 

Accipiters are slender-bodied, broad-winged hawks with long tails. They are agile flyers, able to maneuver through a dense forest with ease. Accipiters prey on small mammals and birds and are often referred to, in general, as sparrowhawks. 

The hawk was first noticed on Wednesday afternoon. It had evidently swooped down for prey and overshot its dive, ending up inside the gym. Instinctively it headed for the rafters for safety. 

Because the gymnasium was in use when we received the call, and a game was scheduled for the evening, we postponed the rescue for a quieter time when we'd have the greatest chance of capturing the bird.

Today, Duane and Rebecca met a security guard at the school so they could have access to the locked building.

Inside, the juvenile Cooper's was circling the gymnasium, lighting on beams and wires for a few moments before taking flight again.

The team placed a bal-chatri in the center of the gymnasium. 

A bal-chatri is a type of trap used to capture hawks and other types of predatory birds. It's basically a small wire cage, covered with snares. A live animal placed inside the cage is what lures a bird to the trap. The wire mesh must be small to prevent injury to the animals inside.

A society finch was placed inside the holding area... Frightened by the new surroundings it did not move. It stood, motionless. 

A domestic mouse was added to the cage, and immediately the movement caught the bird's attention.

It did not take long for the hawk to land on the trap. 

It did the typically "dancing" on the cage, even grabbing and lifting it. Unsure if it was snared, the team approached slowly... As they closed in, it flew a few yards away.

They backed off, and within a few minutes the hawk landed on the trap again. This time it was snared.

Check out the video.

Once they were sure it was caught, the team ran in to remove it from the snares. It was immediately released outside.

The mouse and the finch were a bit shaken but not injured. They were both re-homed.

We want to thank Gunderson High for being so accommodating in letting us have access to the gymnasium. We also want to thank Mary Kenney for the donated bal-chatri, and to the Erwin family for sponsoring this rescue.


Keep WES running! Help ensure our ability to continue providing our valuable services by making a contribution. Thank you so much!

Make checks to W.E.S. PO Box 65 Moss Landing, CA 95039

Oct 14, 2014

Oiled goose rescue

Yesterday afternoon, WES received an urgent email asking if we could assist with the rescue of a Canada goose that appeared to be covered in oil in Richmond, CA. It was seen traveling with other Canada geese near the harbor.

The goose was first observed on the 12th by a Marina Bay resident, Lisa, who watched over the goose as she reached out for help. Finally, after numerous calls and emails, WES was notified and took the lead in responding.

Geese can be very tricky to capture, especially if they are flighted, like this one. They tend to be skittish of nets. Instead, we use snares or simple lure them close enough to grab by hand. We asked Lisa to see how the goose reacted to a handful of grain and bread crumbles.

Lisa was quick to return video of the goose responding positively to food offerings. 

This helped us decide what method of capture we would try first, and which of our trained responders to send.

WES has not one, but two expert goose capturers - Deanna, who lives in Hollister, and Andrew, in Los Gatos. However, neither was available at the time.

We reached out to our few San Francisco-based volunteers, but it was getting late in the day - too late to capture and then transport the bird to International Bird Rescue in Cordelia. The rescue was postponed for the night.

By morning, Andrew Bear notified us - he was able to take the afternoon off from work! Ken Weidner, one of our San Francisco responders was also available. 

After being briefed on appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to stay safe while handling the animal, Andrew and Ken teamed up to capture the goose. Here is Andrew's account:

When we arrived, the goose appeared very alert. I began by walking among the geese, observing their behavior. I wanted to see how close I could get to the oiled one. 
It did not allow me closer than about eight feet. 
Ken and I donned our protective equipment and goose wrangling gear. We both had a bag of seed and bread crumbles and we each had a bed sheet around our waists to use when grabbing the goose.  
The plan was for me to bait the goose close enough for capture, while Ken applied gentle pressure to keep it from moving off. He would also distract the older, more aggressive geese.
As we began tossing crumbles and seed, the geese began gathering close. One walked right up to me and would have eaten out of my hand!  
The oiled goose, however, kept a safe distance from me - about 8 feet away. 
I noticed that it would come closer for the small pieces of bread, so I worked the bread for a while longer.
Finally, after about 45 minutes, the goose got within about 2 feet and I was able to capture it with the bed sheet!
We placed the bird in a plastic animal carrier and Ken transported it to oiled wildlife experts, International Bird Rescue.  

Stay tuned for updates on this bird's recovery.