Oct 3, 2015

Another dead bobcat - SGAR poisoning suspected

By Rebecca Dmytryk

On September 29th, I received a call about a bobcat in a yard on River Road in Felton. The caller was concerned because the cat had been seen in the vicinity for a couple of weeks and she was worried for her dog and other animals. She was also concerned because the cat did not seem to scare off easily.

I went through my typical questions, trying to tease out all the facts, and I asked her to send any pictures or videos she had because I needed to see the condition of the animal. My guess was, without even seeing the cat, it was sick, possibly suffering from rodenticide poisoning.

I assured her, the bobcat posed no threat to her family, that is was probably attracted to the chickens and the rodents that come with raising livestock but if her animals are contained in predator-proof enclosures there should be nothing to worry about.

She sent me these images from September 26th:

Right away, I knew the bobcat was sick - it was suffering from a severe infestation of ear mites, or otodectic mange. 

Normally ear mites are found deep in the ear canal, but can infest the skin on the outer ear. In severe cases like this, where, likely, the animal's immune system has been compromised, the mites take over the face and can spread over the rest of the body.

A trained eye will notice the sharp outline of the cat's profile, where it is missing fur on its face, and its nearly bald tail, and the poor animal's expression.

This cat was very, very ill and needed to be caught, which meant setting a large cage trap during the day and monitoring - we do not set traps that cannot be watched.

Unfortunately, we did not have any specially trained volunteers available who could devote the day to this mission, to set and watch over a trap. This would have to wait until the weekend. 

I asked the resident if she'd keep watch and keep me posted on sightings, and not to squirt the cat with water or chase it off - we needed it to feel safe in their yard. If the animal started showing up regularly, we'd attempt a capture sooner. 

The cat was never seen again...

On October 2nd, the resident emailed me that a neighbor had found the bobcat's body the day before, down by the river. 

It was found by the water, another indication the animal might have died from exposure to a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGAR), as hemorrhaging causes thirst.

The problem with these poisons and how they impact our wildlife is thoroughly explained in this excellent post by Laurel Klein Serieys, HERE - please read it. Another article, HERE.

Anger and contempt for the makers of these horrible products and the whole, bloody kill-kill-kill response to rat and mouse problems, tempered by sadness, frustration and regret, fueled a new mission, to get that cat's liver and get it tested.

By the time I could collect a specimen, the cat would have been dead for at least 72 hours... I contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova to make sure old liver is good liver. Yes.

I was sent a map detailing where I could find the deceased bobcat. 

Late Saturday afternoon, Duane dropped me off at the trailhead to the Zayante Trail inside Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Cooper, my dog, was at my side - he's got a nose that can find pretty much anything. In hand, gloves, mask, blade and resealable plastic bags.

It was a beautiful walk on a sandy trail. Dappled sunlight through redwood, cottonwood, sycamore. Just lovely. 

I used my iPhone to navigate. As we closed in on the location, we found a trail that seemed to lead to the creek.

Indeed, the singletrack led us to a wide sand and stone bank, the confluence, where Zayante Creek meets the San Lorenzo River. A moment to take in the beauty and then I turned to look for the cat. 

There it was, just steps from the trail, just a few feet from the water's edge. Poor cat. Poor, poor cat.

I gloved-up, put on a respirator mask and began documenting.

I used Theodolite to record the location of the carcass. I took pictures of the animal's teeth to help determine its age, and documented its skin condition. 

Then it was time to cut.

Using a utility blade, I gently worked through the fur, just below the sternum, lightly scratching through the thin outer layer of skin and ever-so-delicately through the peritoneum to reveal the insides. Here, we are all pretty much the same... and there it was... what I had come for... the large, carmine-colored organ.

I gently slipped my fingers behind the liver and cut it free, placed it in a plastic bag, degloved down to my first layer and double-bagged the specimen. Deed done.

It was a somber walk back to road but I felt good. I felt I had honored that poor cat in the best way I could - to find out why it died... and maybe these words will help educate others about the real cost of using rodenticides... and then maybe, if the results confirm it was use of rodenticide that killed it, perhaps this story will add weight to any move to get rid of these horrible poisons once and for all.

Stay tuned!

WES has a fund set up for testing specimens for anticoagulants. They are costly - about $120.00. If you'd like to sponsor a Rodenticide Screening, click HERE

Thank you!

A huge THANK YOU! to the residents of River Road for 
reporting this bobcat and helping with recovery of its body.

Sep 24, 2015

Turkey vulture ventures into a water truck tank

Last Friday, WES received a call about a turkey vulture that had been trapped inside a commercial water truck tank in Aromas. The hatch had been left open and unattended, perhaps for days. We don't know how long the bird had been in there.

Frightened of the bird, workers thought to fill the tank with water and flush it out.

When rescuers arrived they found the immature vulture alert, with its wings spread, warming and drying in the sun. Typical of vultures, this is called the "horaltic pose" and it helps them warm up before they take to the wing.

Rescuer, Rebecca Dmytryk, captured the bird and transported it to Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz.

After five days in care the bird was deemed releasable.

The young turkey vulture was transported back to the area where it was captured and set free. Check out the video of its capture and release.

A huge THANK YOU!!! to Ben for calling WES to the rescue!

Please support our wildlife rescue program with a donation 
or choose to give as little as $5.00 monthly.

Check the box that says Make This Recurring. 

Sep 15, 2015

Skunk freed from Jack In The Box shake cup

This morning, WAS was called about a skunk with its head stuck in the lid of an Oreo shake cup, running around a Watsonville neighborhood.

Rescuers finally caught up with the skunk - check out the video of its rescue.

Sep 5, 2015

Orphaned opossums rescued

By Deanna Barth

Word has traveled quickly through Hollister that I will drop anything to help animals in need. I’ve become the go-to person in my hometown for that reason, and I’m ok with that. So I wasn’t surprised when I had a message this week from a local resident that simply said “I’ve been told that you can help me with the sick opossums in my backyard.”

I drove ten minutes across town on Wednesday evening and was surprised when the homeowner led me into her backyard. It was a haven for wildlife – completely overgrown like a jungle, offering many places for animals to hide. 

She said she has opossums, skunks and raccoons that frequently cross her yard. There were several fruit trees and it was apparent the opossums were helping themselves to the half-eaten figs on the ground.  

She led me around a corner where there were several trays of water left out and a pet carrier for the young opossums she was concerned about. 

The “Mother” opossum had not been seen for about ten days, according to the homeowner, but it seemed as though the young ones were old enough to survive. She said they appeared to be thriving until recently when she had noticed they were becoming less active.  

I bent down to find two of them huddled together outside the carrier. They were thin, smelled strongly of ammonia and were covered in fleas. 

After further discussion with the resident, I decided it would be best to have all of them examined by a wildlife rehabilitator. This meant we needed to gather up the entire family, and finding them in the dense brush was not going to be easy. It didn’t help that we were losing sunlight. 

We spent a good hour searching for them and only found two more. 

I left with the four opossums, with the plan of keeping them overnight and transporting them to the wildlife center in the morning. 

At 5:30am the following morning, I received another message from the homeowner saying she had two more opossums. I stopped by her house before work to collect them.  

Once at the SPCA for Monterey County wildlife center, the opossums were examined, cleaned, and started on a proper diet.

The following day, Friday, one last straggler was found and taken to the wildlife center.

These opossums are in excellent hands and odds are this family of seven will be returned to the wild soon.


Aug 26, 2015

Little heron in Hollister

By Deanna Barth

Today, I was forwarded a call about an injured heron in Hollister. Not knowing the exact species, I was curious what I would find as I pulled onto the property. 

My first observation was that the area, like most drought-ridden places in California, was extremely dry. There was a small residence next to a market surrounded by open fields, no water and very few trees. 

To my surprise, from around the corner of the house came a juvenile black-crowned night heron. It was likely that this was not an injured bird, but rather simply too young to fly. But where had it come from? 

The older gentleman who had called was very concerned about his “new friend.” He told me about how he tends to his garden every evening, and about ten days ago this heron appeared, walking along behind him as he tilled the soil with his hoe. 

He soon realized the young bird was eating the worms that were unearthed. Assuming the bird would leave on its own eventually, he enjoyed its company and continued to offer it worms and even set out a tray of water for it. 

After about a week, he became concerned that the bird was not well and began making some phone calls for help. After ten days, he was finally given WES' number.  

I explained to him that the bird did not appear injured, but rather couldn’t fly because it was a juvenile. But having been fed only worms for so long, it was very thin and in a weakened state. We needed to get it to a wildlife rehabilitator.

I was going to herd the bird into a corner of the yard where I could contain it. While it had become used to the presence of his Man-friend, as soon as it saw me approaching it became obviously stressed and difficult to herd it - darting and thrashing and vocalizing. I quickly covered it in a sheet and placed it into a pet carrier.  

I transported the heron to the SPCA for Monterey County wildlife center where staff confirmed that the bird was extremely underweight but not injured.  

Hopefully this beautiful bird will make a complete recovery and be released back to the wild.

UPDATE: 9-2-15

I called SPCA wildlife today for an update on the heron. After a few days on a proper diet, the heron was strong enough to be transported to IBR.

Stay tuned!

Meet Jaco with Mpumalanga Animal Crime Watch

My name is Jaco Klopper, Co-founder of Mpumalanga Animal Crime Watch NPC. We are dedicating all our time to protect and conserve the free roaming wildlife & domestic animals in South Africa. 

Our main goal is to lift as many illegal snares in and around Mpumalanga Province. We have developed programs to assist MACW to help fight this war. Yes we are fighting a war - a war on poachers. 

We are losing our wildlife due to the lack of support of our Government. 

Our current programs include:

 Volunteer Snare Removal Program

We have conducted numerous successful projects via this program. We have built up massive support from the public due to the nature of the work we do. We organize special snare removal projects for this initiative. Our Volunteers range from 8 to 50 years in age.

Student Snare Removal Program

This module was designed to introduce and create awareness among the youth, with the vision to discover and develop students passionate about wildlife. This program was successfully implemented with great success.

Community Service Snare Removal Program

We believe in second chances and created this profile to assist troubled youth and to teach them and to rebuild their broken spirits. Removing snares is a life changing experience. It creates a feeling of worthiness. It teaches respect and a sense of responsibility.

Specialized Snare Removal Program

Called the MACW Bush Warriors, these are specially trained units operating on contract with the goal to protect and conserve our free roaming wildlife. These teams clearing and maintaining properties. They work in conjunction with the MPTA and other specialized organizations.

Search & Rescues

We pride ourselves with a 100% success rate when called upon. Unfortunately most wildlife caught in snares don’t survive due to strangulation or fatal wounds. Domestic animals have a better chance of survival but it depends on the breed and temperament.

Wildlife Services

We are dedicated to build up records. Our immediate focus will be recording all wildlife movements we encounter, total number of animals found dead in snares, animal tracks found and other vital information to be reported to the Mbombela Environmental Committee. We will collect all information by means of photographs, GPS and reports.

We are using numerous channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube and google +. We have a Youtube channel that the public can subscribe to in order to follow everything we do. We have a collection of videos. Rescues, snare removals and educational content we share to educate the masses.

Website: www.macw.co.za 

We are on the front line and the first defense when it comes to the protection of our heritage. We encounter armed and very dangerous poachers everyday. We are up against syndicates. We have syndicates involved in Animal Trafficking (wild & domestic animals), Syndicates involved in the illegal bush meat trade, Animal body parts, Fish poaching and much more. 

We are making a difference but the syndicates supply the poachers with high-tech equipment and arms. This is our biggest concern. They use the same gear as the rangers and even better equipment. 

We came into contact with a group of poachers and we were forced to hand over all our equipment, cameras, GPS units, and other equipment. 

Due to the red tape it took MACW 9 months to get registered and for the past two and a half years we operated on our own income. We used our own vehicle a Fiat Palio 1200 on roads not suited for a normal car but 4X4's. This did not held us back but made us more determent to do what we do best. 

We would like to thank each and everyone for the support. 

Webpage: www.macw.co.za

I am proud of what we have done, animals saved, we did this not for the money but the passion. I have not received a salary in the last two and a half years and counting... 

Please edit and add or remove what you think needs to be done. Thank you so much once again. 

Thank you for considering support of our efforts to save the wildlife of South Africa.

Warm regards,


Support MACW's work through their Amazon Wish List, HERE

Check back, we will have a link to make a donation.

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!