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.

Oct 10, 2014

Man arrested for using bleach to kill an opossum

Last Saturday, WES received a call from a man who was trying to help an opossum that had bleached poured on it buy a co-worker at South Beach Pizza, Santa Cruz, California.

Chef Dany Pena tried to save the young animal. He scooped its body out of the trashcan where it had been left to die, and rushed it to Native Animal Rescue. 

Despite efforts to save it, the young female opossum expired shortly thereafter. 

Its body was transferred to the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter where authorities began an investigation into the allegations of animal cruelty.

News of this horrific act spread like wildfire, from Los Angeles to New York to London, with some discrepancies...

Some headlines stated the owners of the establishment had ordered the dousing, but Dany had reported he was told by employees that a relative of one of the co-owners had ordered killing. 

Understandably, the owners of the restaurant were quick to deny any involvement, but they went further... a lot further - accusing Dany of being a disgruntled employee using the false opossum story to extort money.

Well, those disparaging claims went down like a fast sinking ship on Thursday when Santa Cruz police arrested the former assistant manager, Alan Rockwood, and charged him with one count of animal cruelty.

UPDATE: Dany Pena quit his job over the opossum incident. He's struggling to get back on his feet, financially. You can help through his donation drive, HERE.

Related news coverage:

Oct 9, 2014

Entangled goose, saved!

Yesterday, we received a call from Mark Parsins, from Riverside Lighting in Santa Cruz(Thank you!!!). He reported a Canada goose with fishing line wrapped around its leg near the San Lorenzo Park. WES' Goose Whisperer, Deanna Barth responded. Here's her account of the rescue:
I arrived at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz this afternoon to look for the injured bird. I had been to this location before to rescue birds, but had never seen any geese.
As expected, I walked the area and saw several coots, gulls, ducks and pigeons, but no geese.  
The caller had explained the geese were seen between the park and the Soquel bridge, so I made my way toward the river, scanning the area in all directions, with no luck. Then I walked to the far end of the fence and looked beyond the overpass. There, in the grass, I could see geese. Yes! 
I went back to my vehicle and drove to the location. 
This gaggle of geese was far away from people, and it appeared as though they preferred it that way. This was not going to be easy.  
Birds that frequent public parks and ponds are accustomed to seeing people and are often used to being fed by them. While the habituation is not necessarily a good thing, it does make rescuing them much easier.
This particular group of geese seemed like “outsiders", to me. 
With a bag of grain in my hand, I slowly, nonchalantly, approached them. 
As soon as they saw me they were on full alert - I thought for sure they were going to take to the sky.   
I immediately sat down to make myself appear less threatening, and waited.
After a few minutes I began tossing grain. No reaction.   
5 minutes passed, 10 minutes, 15...
A half an hour passed with no interest from the geese. 
I rose from my seated position and, again, they quickly stretched their necks high and appeared anxious.   
I decided to try something new, something I didn’t expect to work, but , I thought - What do I have to lose?  
I could see gulls and pigeons in the park nearby. I tossed grain high up into the air to get their attention.  
Soon, I was surrounded by 50 birds pecking at the ground near my feet.
This commotion got the attention of the geese, and, as I had hoped, they began moving toward me. I was so excited!   
These geese were cautious, but all of them came over to eat - except for one. 
I had no doubt that was the injured goose I was looking for. 
I walked away from the group of birds and made my way along the river’s edge, positioning myself between the injured goose and the water. I applied enough pressure to cause it to stand to confirm the injury. Sure enough, that was "my" bird! 
I walked slowly behind it while tossing grain, encouraging it to my right side, but every time I got it within arm’s reach, another goose would lunge at it and chase it off. 
It took over an hour of dancing back and forth before I was finally able to position the bird right where I needed it - and then I grabbed it!
I loaded the big bird into a pet carrier and transported it to Native Animal Rescue. 
There, I held the goose while staff removed the line successfully. It will be treated with antibiotics and is expected to make a full recovery. I hope to return the goose to its group within a week or so.
Stay tuned! 

Oct 5, 2014

Yet another great blue in trouble in Los Angeles

This morning, residents of West Covina reported a great blue heron in their neighborhood. It has netting material around its bill, preventing it from opening its mouth. 

With few wildlife rescuers in Los Angeles to help capture this poor bird, we have turned to SMART for help. 

Thanks to Lynn and family for reporting this emergency!

Stay tuned.

Oct 2, 2014

Wildlife exposed to rodenticides near UCSC campus

The results are in. Both bobcats recovered from the UC Santa Cruz campus last month tested positive for exposure to anticoagulant rodenticide. We want to stress that just because the animals were found on campus does not mean they were exposed to rodenticides on campus.

The first bobcat - a mother with its remaining kitten by its side, was found ill on September 3rd. Read the full story, HERE. WES captured the cat and delivered it to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley where it died later that night.

WES rescued a second bobcat from campus on September 8th. It had been struck by a vehicle. Read about its rescue, HEREIt, too, did not survive.

The first cat showed classic signs of exposure to rodenticide. She was suffering from mange and was extremely thin and weak. We sent her body to the California Animal Health & Food Safety lab in Davis for testing.

The second bobcat, a male, was rescued less than half a mile from where we captured the female. We decided to have his liver tested as well, even though he looked in fairly good physical shape.

Here are the results:

Bobcats and other wild animals are exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides when they consume mice and rats that have eaten the poison. Use of poison bait is common - too common, and it's taking a toll on our wildlife populations.

We will update this blog post as we find out information on how the bobcats may have been exposed. In the meantime, check out this post, HEREby Laurel Serieys, PHD. Laurel has done extensive research on bobcats and rodenticide exposure.

Stay tuned!

Sep 30, 2014

Buck entangled in electric net fencing

Male mule deer entangled in portable electric net fencing meant for livestock.

This morning, WES received a call about a deer entangled in electric fencing in Bonny Doon, California. The buck had been stuck all night but was still bright and alert and fighting to get free, according to the reporting party.

We immediately contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to alert them of the emergency.

Deer are considered Big Game. In California, rescue organizations like ours must notify CDFW and receive authorization before responding to emergencies involving big game species.

Wildlife Officer Chris Foster was on scene quickly. WES' lead responders, Rebecca Dmytryk and Duane Titus, arrived shortly thereafter.

Together, the team assessed the situation and developed a plan to untangle the buck from the netting material.

This particular rescue presented a couple of unique challenges. 

Deer are extremely dangerous to work with. They are flighty - they panic and will do anything and everything to get away, even if it kills them.

Once restrained, rescuers would have to worry about the animal developing "white muscle disease", also known as capture or exertional myopathy. Explained in detail, HERE.

The deer was an adult male and presumably "in rut". 

The rutting period is the mating season of ruminants, like deer, where breeding males are in a state of heightened aggression, with one thing on their mind - finding receptive females. They are easily agitated and completely unpredictable.

After one last review, the team, led by Officer Foster, was ready to execute their plan.

They approached using wooden herding boards to protect themselves from the terrified deer, flailing and kicking and striking. This allowed them to get close enough for Officer Foster to grab hold of the antlers and restrain the front end, while Duane applied pressure on the backside. 

With the animal held down, Rebecca began cutting away at the tangled mass of plastic and wire webbing. It took nearly 4 minutes to clear the antlers.

With protective boards to shield them from the buck should it charge, Duane and Officer Foster released their hold.

Immediately, the buck spun right around for a quick charge. The herding boards fended off his aggression until he collected his wits and headed off into the woods.

A huge THANK YOU!!! to Wildlife Officer Chris Foster for his prompt and expert response!

Check out the video below.

The net fencing was being used to keep grazing goats contained to a specific area. 

Unfortunately, this relatively new type of fencing seems to be gaining in popularity as it's lightweight, portable, and cost, but, like any netting material, it poses a serious risk to wildlife especially when used in or near wild habitat.

This publication, Fencing with Wildlife in Mind, offers suggestions of safer fences.

Sep 26, 2014

Goose Wrangler captures another injured bird

This afternoon, Andrew Bear, one of WES' volunteer first responders, received word of about another goose tangled in fishing line at Vasona Park.

Not long after receiving the call, Andrew had it in his hands. Way to go!!!

The goose was transported to Wildlife Center for Silicon Valley for treatment.


Sep 22, 2014

World Rhino Day

Check out the events going on around the globe, HERE.

Let's not forget "Rhino Man", Michael Werikhe. He wasn't a biologist or researcher - he was an ordinary citizen who knew he had to do something - anything, to help save the rhino, so he started walking. In his life he would walk thousands of miles across four continents.

In August, 199, Michael was killed in a mugging when leaving his home for work.

Remember the power of one.

Sep 15, 2014

Hawk rescued from a storm drain

This afternoon, WES was forwarded a call from the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter about a small hawk that had dropped into a storm drain on Highway 1 near River Street in Santa Cruz, CA.

The bird must have been clipped by a car, as the reporting party saw it struggling on the road before it fell into the opening of the drain.

Santa Cruz Police assisted with traffic control as Duane Titus rescued the small accipiter. Check out the video:

The sharp-shinned was delivered to Native Animal Rescue for care.


Sep 14, 2014

Skunk rescued from leg-hold trap

This morning, WES received a report of a skunk stuck in a trap off Rodeo Gulch in Soquel, CA. Responders found the young male skunk caught in an illegal leg-hold trap. 

This particular type of body-gripping trap was outlawed in California in 1998. The only time this sort of trap can be used is for public health and safety.

The skunk was only a few feet from the road. It appeared as though it had been traveling, dragging the trap, when it got tangled among fallen branches.

Wildlife Officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife also responded and assisted in the rescue and are investigating the violations.

WES transported the animal to skunk expert, Monique, with Santa Cruz's Native Animal Rescue. A thorough examination revealed the skunk had a small, bullet-like wound on its back. Radiographs will be taken to confirm if the animal was shot.

A huge THANK YOU! to Keith for calling and reporting this emergency, and many thanks to our local Wildlife Officers for assisting!

Sep 8, 2014

Bobcat rescue at UCSC

This evening, WES was called on by UC Santa Cruz Campus Police to help with an injured bobcat that had apparently been struck by a vehicle. It had made its way off the road and into a vacant lot where officers kept watch until rescuers arrived.

The bobcat was alert and defensive - a good sign, but it had a significant injury to its left rear leg and its right eye was cloudy.

WES responders used an open-ended net to capture and contain the cat. This method eliminates direct contact with the animal.

Because there are no veterinarians in the Santa Cruz area to provide emergency care, the animal was transfer to WES' wildlife veterinarian in Los Gatos and on to the Wildlife Center for Silicon Valley.

Sadly, the cat did not make it through the night. A necropsy will be performed and its liver sent for testing for possible exposure to rodenticides.

If you would like to cover the cost of testing for rodenticide exposure, click HERE.

Stay tuned!

Sep 6, 2014

A few well-deserved Shout-Outs!

Every year we receive hundreds of calls about wild animals in danger or distress. We want to share a few of the many stories of people helping animals as we give a few Shout-Outs to these local heroes.

Our first Shout-Out goes to PG&E for the stellar job they did in preparing for emergency repair of damaged power lines near an active osprey nest in Harkin's Slough.

They did an incredible job of having plenty of resources at-the-ready for a quick rescue of the osprey chick, should it have been necessary. Awesome! 

Another Shout-Out to a young woman named Lorie, who noticed a bird trapped behind netting at one of the Caltrain stations in Santa Clara County. She first reported the bird to authorities early in the evening but it took hours and many, many phone calls to get help. 

Finally, her persistence paid off when the bird was freed by Caltrain workers later that night. Never give up!

Another Shout-Out to Marie, in Los Angeles, who saved a healthy fledgling from the middle of the street. 

Following our instructions, she tended to it overnight and returned it to its family the next day for a successful reunion. Well done!

A warm Shout-Out to Patricia Donald, founder and coordinator of the Shorebird Park Nature Center in Berkeley, CA.

Every year, Patty rescues various creatures from harm. This year, she reunited a young white-tailed kite with its family - high in a tree. 

City of Berkeley Forestry supplied the bucket truck! A Shout-Out to them for assisting.

About a month later, Patty helped a couple of young barn owls back into their nest box. 

Thank you Patty for all you do for wildlife in Berkeley and beyond!

Another Shout-Out to the Morris family in Soquel and biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife who expended great time and effort to help a doe with a PVC ring stuck on its foot.

A huge Shout-Out to Ron and LaVera in Montana, who helped a skunk out of a sticky situation. 

They came across this fellow wandering a dirt road...

Using polar fleece straps that LaVera uses in sewing, which just happened to be in the car, Ron ventured close enough to tie a length of them onto the cup and give a good yank.

It worked, and he didn't get sprayed!  Way to go!!!

A Shout-Out to The Lady at Beach who spent time tossing live beached sand dollars back into the shallows, reminiscent of Loren Eiseley's The Star Thrower - a must read.

How about a Shout-Out to WES' Duane and Rebecca, for taking time to untangle this creepy beach creature from debris. 

No limbs or fingers damaged during the ordeal!

A Shout-Out to Carrie, in Scotts Valley, for going out of her way to help newly hatched California quail chicks that had fallen down a storm drain. 

To Tamara - a Shout-Out for going to great lengths to find help for a bat ray, of all things!

Tamara observed the ray in a shallow lagoon-like area off Corte Madera Creek, in Kentfield, CA. 

The ray must have swum through a pipe and gotten trapped. At low tide, the area turned into a mud flat, with only a few puddles deep enough for the ray to survive.

Once Tamara contacted WES, we went to work to try and find help for the wayward ray and, lo and behold, we found someone who rescues sharks and rays - The Pelagic Shark Foundation!!! 

A grateful Shout-Out to Sean Van Sommeran with PSRF who responded from Santa Cruz!

To Romain and his wife who took a great deal of time and effort to report a severely injured American white pelican in Sunnyvale. 

They went out of their way to document the bird's location for rescuers. Thank you, Romain!

A hearty Shout-Out to Ingrid, in Seattle, who has gone to great efforts over the last couple of weeks to help rescue a young gull snared with a fishing bobber and weights.

Ingrid reached out to WES for advice. 

The gull was hatched on a rooftop adjacent to her apartment complex. With roof access impossible, Ingrid would have to lure the gull to a neighboring deck. 

We walked her through various capture strategies, and instructed her on how to build a drop trap - she did an amazing job!!!


Woo! A mega Shout-Out to Cecilia, who captured a rattlesnake and relocated it off her property. 

Apparently, she does this quite often. Tarantulas, too! What a kind and brave soul. 

Thank you Cecilia! May your compassion for living beings inspire others.

A huge Shout-Out to Jill, in Long Beach, CA for her ongoing efforts to rescue an injured Great Blue heron at El Dorado Park. 

Jill has spent weeks gaining the bird's trust, greeting it early each morning with bits of fresh fish. 

WES has been guiding rescue efforts. We hope for a capture this week. Good luck Jill!!!

To all the kind-hearted people who take the time to help animals in need,
you not only make a difference in that animal's life, but your act of compassion 
makes a difference in our world, inspiring kindness in others. Thank you!