Aug 25, 2015

Skunk in a tight spot

This morning we responded to a call about a skunk stuck between a rock and a hard place...

It certainly was!

This lovely plump skunk got stuck half way through an opening under a fence and couldn't wriggle free. Check out the video.

Thank you Elaine for calling about the skunk! Thank you John for helping.
Thank you, Monique for checking him out!

Aug 21, 2015

Sick adult fox rescued

This morning WES received a call about a gray fox that was in distress in a backyard of a home in a community called Riverside Grove - a spectacular place, 17 miles from Highway way, deep in the redwoods. Beautiful.

The party who called about the fox described it as weak and not able to get up - that it was lying flat on the cool stones that lined a wash in their backyard. On approach, she said, it would lift its head for a moment. She noticed some tremors, perhaps something neurological.

When our rescue team arrived, they found the fox in the same spot, but a little more alert - it was sitting up.

Instead of immediately catching the fox, the team made preparations for its capture. 

They prepared a cage for the animal, and, because there was no sign of trauma and they had to presume the animal was suffering from disease, possibly something contagious, they made sure their decontamination supplies were within reach. 

With everything ready, the team donned leather gloves and grabbed a couple of long-handled nets.

Quietly, they staged on either side of the fox. 

With what little energy it had left, it tried to escape capture but was netted fairly easily.

The fox was placed into a carrier and transported over the hill to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. 


There, at the center, the fox was given a complete exam, but the prognosis was not good from the start. 

The center has been getting a lot of sick foxes from Santa Cruz County suffering from canine distemper virus (CDV). In 2011 there was a spike in distemper cases in the Bay Area. Click HERE to read a news article about it. In 2013, a canine distemper outbreak killed a number of lions and tigers at a wildlife sanctuary in Texas. Click HERE, to read more. A National Geographic article, HERE, explores the serious threat of CDV and the world's remaining wild tigers.  

Sadly, this fox was exhibiting signs of the disease - head and facial tremors, nystagmus, weakness - unable to stand, hyper salivation. It was euthanized to end its suffering.

Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease that can involve  the respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems. It's spread through through the air, direct contact with an infected animal or its bodily secretions. Canine distemper can cause wild animals to behave abnormally, appearing confused, disoriented, even tame. 

The domestic dog is said to responsible for introducing canine distemper to wild animals and, today, it poses a serious threat to many species. Scientists believe the virus may have contributed to the extinction of the thylacine. It nearly wiped out the black-footed ferret. In 1991, it was responsible for a 20% decline in the lion population of the Serengeti region and recurs among African wild dogs, threatening the species survival.

What you can do to reduce the spread of this horrible disease.

  • Be sure your dog is properly immunized.
  • Do not attract wildlife to gather in groups:
    • Do not feed wildlife.
    • Do not leave pet food where wild animals can access it.
    • Prevent wild mammals access to water features or clean and disinfect daily.
    • Pick up feral cat food and water before dark and sterilize dishes.

Aug 2, 2015

Coyote pup rescue

Yesterday, we were called to help a young coyote that had been observed stumbling around between homes off Branciforte Drive. When we arrived, it was lying on a thicket of poison oak and California blackberry. It was just a pup.

Check out the video of it being rescued:

The pup was transported to Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley where it received an exam and found to be very underweight and dehydrated. Additional tests revealed the pup was suffering from a heavy load of internal parasites. 

With luck, the pup will get stronger and either join a pack of orphans for release back to the wild or be reunited with its pack.

Stay tuned!

UPDATE: 8-10-15

An update from Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley: 

The female coyote pups was loaded with several species of coccidia and also had roundworms and hookworms, which debilitated her and caused emaciation and weakness. At intake we stabilized with SQ fluids and let her rest over night.

Over the course of three days we treated her with vaccinations and several anti-parasitic medications.

As of today her fecal is clean, and she is eating and starting to become way more active. She is still thin, so we are working on putting some meat on her bones. 

Jul 25, 2015

Mother opossum in a jam

Today we were called to rescue an opossum that was stuck in a fence. Apparently the opossum had tried to pass under a picket fence - perhaps a usually route for her, when she became wedged underneath. 

A huge Thank You to Peter for calling WES for help!

When we arrived at the home on Catalpa Street in Santa Cruz we found the mother opossum very alert yet exhausted, her mouth full of dirt. Clearly, she'd been using her teeth to dig away dirt to free herself.

On her back were three babies clinging tightly to their mother's fur. They were about as big as a medium-sized baking potato... ears twitching nervously at every sound. The mother was obviously terrified to be caught, especially now that it was light out and "predators" were about.

Her front half was in Peter's yard, her back half was in his neighbor's, Anne.

First, we collected the babies that were on her back to keep them safe while we assisted their mom. The mother was extremely protective of her young, trying to fend us off - snapping at us with jaws that contain more teeth than any other North American mammal.

Once the babies were safely contained, we went to work on freeing the mother. 

She was clearly pinned at the spine and shoulders by the wooden stakes, but below, against the dirt, it was her pouch - full of babies - that was keeping her from slipping under and through.

Quite the predicament! 

The opening to the pouch was underneath her, so, as long as the mother kept struggling to get through the fence, the babies had no way to get out of the pouch. As she inched forward, she was putting more and more pressure on the pouch - on the babies inside, essentially crushing them.

We gently manipulated the mother onto her side, exposing the pouch opening, then got to work removing the babies, one by one. 

The first two babies were in bad shape - one appeared to be dead. The others were good - wriggly and pissy - barking at us defensively with a sneezing sound, "CHH!, CHH!"

We kept pulling more and more,... they kept coming... Eight of them! 

Finally, the mom was slim enough to be backed out from under the fence. She didn't like it very much, obviously. She squirmed and fought and tried to grab at us, but her expression changed the second she was placed into the carrier with all eleven of her babies surrounding her. Yes, all of them!

The one that looked dead when we first brought it out - it came back to life after some "encouragement" - a bit of tapping and squeezing and blowing at the nose, a bit of begging and, finally, a bit of movement - life returned!

Check out the video:

The opossum family was taken to the local wildlife hospital, Native Animal Rescue, for evaluation and care. The family should be able to go home soon.

THANK YOU! Anne for helping with the rescue!

THANK YOU! Native Animal Rescue for all the great care you give the injured and orphaned!

UPDATE: 8-1-2015

The mother opossum is doing well and is ready for release. Check back for the release video.

Please support our local rescue program with a monthly donation of $5.00 or more.

Check the box that says Make This Recurring. 

Jul 20, 2015

Increase in number of skunks caught in rat traps

This last week, in the Santa Cruz area, 3 skunks were rescued from rat traps within four days!

The first one was caught in a trap that was left set by a chicken coop. 

After getting its foot caught, the trap got stuck in fencing, which was actually a good thing, otherwise it might have run off.

The trap was removed and the youngster was transported to local skunk rehabilitator, Monique Lee.

The second skunk looked in pretty good shape -
 the trap appeared to have only caught its nails. Rescuers were able to remove the trap from its foot, but the skunks managed to get away before they could contain it.

The third skunk was seen wandering the streets near La Selva Beach Sunday afternoon. It appeared later in a backyard, a few houses away from where it had initially been trapped.

Check out the rescue video:

Check out the great news coverage, HERE.

Jun 26, 2015

Return to freedom

Thanks to the expert care received through Native Animal Rescue's skunk expert, Monique Lee, the skunk that was caught in a Gophinator trap was set free today in the woods just below where she was found. Click HERE for the original story. 

Jun 18, 2015

Rattlesnake entangled in erosion-control netting

This morning we were alerted of a rattlesnake that was stuck in plastic garden netting being used to control erosion in the Carmel Highlands.

The snake was first spotted on Sunday morning, but residents did not know who to call for help. Finally, they reached WES.

WES' founder, Rebecca Dmytryk, was on scene quickly, and removed the snake from the hillside. 

In its attempts to get through and free of the material, the snake had become more and more tangled and restricted. In minutes, though, and with help from the homeowner, the snake was freed.

The rattlesnake was taken in for supportive care. With luck it can be released within a week.

Check out the video of the rescue:

Rebecca had an early start with reptiles. At age 13 she was catching snakes, including rattlesnakes. She learned even more through a herpetology class that was offered at the high school she attended.
Looking back, I cannot imagine what my parents were thinking, but I am glad they allowed me the freedom to develop my skills and learn to respect these magnificent creatures. I am also grateful to Richard Lapidus. He taught herpetology at my high school. You don't see these types of extracurricular classes anymore, which is really too bad.

UPDATE: 7-2-15

After a while in care the rattlesnake was returned to its home in the mountains above Point Lobos.

Jun 17, 2015

Little skunk in a big plastic bag

This morning we were called to help rescue a baby skunk that a homeowner found in her garage, stuck in a large clear plastic bag. It must have wandered into the garage when the door was left open the evening before, and just happened to get itself stuck inside the bag as it was exploring. The skunk was immediately set free outdoors where it made a prompt exit into the bushes. Free again, at last!

Jun 16, 2015

Support the Coyote Challenge

By Rebecca Dmytryk

In addition to managing WES, my husband and I run a for-profit business where we help people resolve their conflicts with wildlife - be it a raccoon in the attic, a skunk under a shed, bats, rats, you name it.

When it comes to coyotes, we face a tough crowd. By the time we're contacted a coyote has often become a problem - there's been a loss or there's fear of an imminent attack. The animal is a perceived threat that must be removed without delay.

When it comes to coyotes, we find people are usually set in their misbeliefs and are far less willing to change their habits than with other species - less willing to adapt to living with these animals as part of their environment, less willing to invest in making modifications to their property even if that is what will solve the problem, yet, they are often quite demanding that something be done, admonishing local officials for not taking action to protect their home, family and pets.

For these people, we offer the Coyote Challenge.

The Coyote Challenge is our pushback to those who believe nothing less than lethal control will work. The Coyote Challenge is also a way for us to help those who truly cannot afford to invest in non-lethal control measures. 

In return, participants agree to share their account of the process and the results - which we expect will be that their coyote problem has been resolved, for good.

With each challenge being documented from beginning to end, we see this as a great opportunity to help people and coyotes while gathering conclusive evidence that non-lethal control methods do work.

The Coyote Challenge officially launched last month and we have 3 applications in the review process.

Duane and I will be donating our time, but we are hoping to collect about $1,500.00 to cover supplies, equipment and associated travel costs. Please help if you can.

For those who contribute $100.00 or more, we have a special treat - you'll be invited to share our journey through a private blog where we post each challenge with frequent updates.

Thank you for supporting the Coyote Challenge!

Jun 12, 2015

Taking a stand for our wildlife

By Rebecca Dmytryk

This week, the California Fish and Game Commission convened in Mammoth Lakes, CA.

These meetings, allow the public and other stakeholders an opportunity to have a voice in the management of our state's wildlife.

Understanding the Commission's role can be a bit confusing... In basic terms, California State Legislature creates Fish and Game laws. The Fish and Game Commission, consisting of an Executive Director and 5 members appointed by the Governor, implements regulations to further clarify Fish and Game Laws as well as set hunting and fishing regulations for the state. The Department of Fish and Wildlife along with the general public submit recommendations and supporting documentation to the Commission to assist them in their decision making.

Yesterday, I spoke before the Commission on trapping.

Last year, Dan Fox, president of Animal Pest Management, sent a letter to the Commission asking that a section of the regulations be modified to exempt licensed pest control operators from needing written consent from neighboring homeowners before they can set traps to take and kill wildlife.

Subsection of 465.5 (g)(3) was introduced in 1980 to protect people, children and pets from being harmed by potentially dangerous body gripping traps like the leghold, snare or conibear. It also protects neighbors’ rights to the shared resources – the resident wildlife. It provides them a voice – a say in the management of these animals – a right that should not be watered down or taken away, especially by big business.

This request to change the regulations is not about protecting people's property of managing problem animals as much as it is about money.

Pest control operators make an incredible living exterminating neighborhood wildlife, charging upwards of $100.00 per head. With a single backyard yielding 3 or more animals and the assurance of repeat business if nothing is done to prevent future conflicts, it's easy to see why trappers don't want anything to stand in their way.

Trapping and killing nuisance wildlife is an outdated practice. It is not a lasting solution as it does not address the actual problem. That said, the way trapping and killing is promoted in the pest control industry is, in my opinion, nothing short of a racket - conducted in the name of the State.

It's my hope the Commission, in its review of its predator management policies and trapping regulations, will require non-lethal control methods before lethal management is allowed, and, they do not strip away neighbors' rights to say how their wildlife is managed.

In researching this issue, I discovered something very disturbing: pest control operators are not required required to report how many animals they kill each year. Neither are those who trap privately on their own property.

Imagine if 2% of households in California used lethal methods to control wildlife. That could mean 250,000 mammals - fox, bobcat, raccoon, opossum, coyote, skunk and squirrel - exterminated each year without anyone knowing.

All other forms of take are documented but not the the toll by the pest control industry. To me, this seems negligent - that such a large number of wild animals - game, non-game and fur bearers can be killed each year and the State does not require documentation. 

Therefore, I requested the Commission's attention to this, asking that they consider modifying the trapping regulations to require annual reporting by pest control operators. Additionally, I asked that they come up with some method of reporting that would reduce double profiting by trappers. 

You see, a pest control operator who is also licensed for recreational trapping (a matter of ticking two boxes on their application) can trap a nuisance bobcat, skin it, then, during bobcat trapping season, they can say it was taken recreationally and then legally sell the pelt for $1,000.00 or more.

That, too - bobcat trapping, was on the Commission's agenda. The Bobcat Protection Act (more HERE), recently signed into law by Governor Brown, requires the Commission to amend bobcat trapping regulations and establish no-trapping zones. Thanks to Commissioner Rogers, a statewide ban is, once again, up for consideration.

If you have time, consider writing a letter to the Commission, expressing your support of a statewide ban on commercial and recreational bobcat trapping.

California Fish and Game Commission
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

Stay tuned!

Jun 1, 2015

Mallard hen and ducklings led to safety

This afternoon, a mallard hen and her newly hatched ducklings were found in a parking lot on the Google compound in Mountain View. Davis, a member of the Google family called WES for help. 

With guidance from our experts and help from a couple of other concerned Googlers, the ducklings were carefully collected into a milk crate.

Then, the team started a slow walk toward Permanente Creek - just a couple of blocks away. The hen followed, nervously.

Finally, they reached the creek! 

Following our direction, Davis gently dumped the ducklings out - all at once, and backed away. The hen quickly gathered their attention and led them into the stream and toward the wetlands.


May 21, 2015

Darted pigeon

WES volunteer responders, Johnie Kindle and Patricia Denn set to capture the injured bird.

On May 1st, WES was alerted of a pigeon with a dart in its neck at Lake Merritt in Oakland. A WES volunteer responded to attempt to capture the injured bird, but it was very wary and flew off, and we stopped receiving reports about it.

Then, on May 21st, we received another report about a pigeon at Lake Merritt - this one had two darts sticking out of its body. It looks to be the same bird.

This morning, WES volunteer responders met at the park. They were able to draw the bird close enough to net it. Check out the amazing video (A huge THANK YOU to Walter for filming!).

Another volunteer, Nancy Powell, transported the bird to WildCare for treatment.

A huge THANK YOU! to everyone who helped rescue this poor bird!

May 18, 2015

Skunk caught in a Gophinator

At the end of a long dirt road near Laguna Creek, in the hills above the redwoods, at the start of a closed-cone forest - in the middle of nowhere - a skunk was trapped in a Gophinator - a trap used to kill gophers and moles.

This particular trap was set inside a gopher tunnel, but the entry was not blocked well. A curious or hungry female skunk was able to access the trap and set it off. Her hand was crushed.

Duane and Rebecca released the skunk from the trap and transported her to Native Animal Rescue's skunk specialist, Monique, for evaluation and treatment. 

Sadly, we heard from Monique that the skunk was a lactating mother - she had kits left behind.

We called the landowner and asked if they would keep an eye out for little ones, but, so far, none has been seen. 

The mother skunk continues to improve thanks to the expert care she is receiving.

Stay tuned!

Want to support our rescue program? Small monthly donations go a long way. 
Remember to tick the box that says Make This Recurring. 

Second entrapped screech owl rescued!

A couple of weeks ago WES was called to rescue an entrapped screech owl from a professional building in Santa Clara (original post HERE). Today, another owl was found inside the building - possibly the same one!

Check out the video:

Responding as Humane Wildlife Control, Duane and Rebecca removed the little owl then took a look around the property to try and find how the owl entered the building. They found a possible spot which the company's maintenance crew will investigate further, being careful to look for a nest as Western screech owls are cavity nesters.

Stay tuned!