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! 


Sep 3, 2014

Bobcat kitten loses mother

Adolescent bobcat nuzzles its dying mother. Photo by Brett Hall all rights reserved.

Yesterday, we received a call about an ailing bobcat with a cub beside it. She was found near the UC Santa Cruz campus.

WES's wildlife capture expert Duane Titus responded immediately. Upon arrival, he found the adult bobcat lying under a bush, but her cub had wandered off. 

Using a catch pole, Duane pulled the nearly lifeless cat from the shrubbery and into a carrier. She barely struggled. 

Because there are no veterinarians or wildlife hospitals in Santa Cruz County willing to treat injured or ill adult predator species, the cat was rushed to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, in San Jose - about an hour's drive.

Exhibiting classic signs of rodenticide poisoning, the cat was immediately treated for dehydration and exposure to an anticoagulant agent. 

Unfortunately, despite the heroic efforts of medical staff, the mother cat did not survive the night. Her body will be sent to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Investigations Lab to determine the exact cause of her death.

As for her cub, WES capture team returned to the area today to look for the kitten. While it was reportedly observed by pedestrians, the capture team failed to locate the kitten. Search efforts will continue.

UPDATE: 9-11-2014

Duane and Rebecca spent the good part of Tuesday (the couple's anniversary) looking for the kitten at the UCSC Arboretum, near where it was seen last. After a couple of hours walking the premises, they located the baby bobcat close to the park entrance. 

Students and staff assisted in the capture - the cat was netted, momentarily, but escaped and ran into the brush.

The kitten appeared younger than first estimated - closer to 5 months old. Bobcat kittens stay with their mother for about one year. 

We believe this juvenile bobcat's chance for survival would be better if it were captured and raised in a controlled environment until it's old enough to be on its own. It would then be returned to the area.  

While the arboretum offers a safe environment with plentiful prey, the kitten has been seen close to a heavily traveled road. 

Possible sibling found dead on the High Street August 28th.

If this bobcat is the same one captured on trail cameras, it may have had a sibling, which was killed by a car on August 28th.

After their failed attempt, the team returned again on Wednesday. They set 3 humane traps and spent 8 hours searching the grounds. The cat was sighted by visitors, but word never reached the team.

Later that afternoon, the kitten was located - again, near the entrance. It was quick to run for cover and was lost.

Aug 28, 2014

GBHE in trouble

Photo by Kim Moore.
A great blue heron at El Dorado Park in Long Beach awaits rescue. The injury to its foot from fishing line, has gotten worse and worse over the last few weeks. WES will attempt a rescue this Sunday.

Photo by Kim Moore.

Aug 23, 2014

Poolside rescue in Los Gatos

Last night, late, we received a report of water bird, poolside, at a residence in Los Gatos. Photographs from the reporting party revealed it was a cormorant.

Cormorants are not able to fly from a standing position - they take flight by scuttling across the water - looking as though they're walking on water as they gain elevation.

Cormorants, loons, and grebes get stuck when they land in a body of water that doesn't allow them enough room to take flight. 

After a rain, these species can be found grounded on dark paved roads, having mistaken the reflective surface of the asphalt for water (Ouch!).

The next morning, the resident confirmed the bird was still in her yard. The Bear Family accepted the call.

Andrew Bear, his wife Charlotte, and son Benjamin have signed up as WES volunteer First Responders. 

Andrew has a tremendous amount of experience with wildlife capture and handling techniques as he also volunteers at the WIldlife Center of Silicon Valley, and he's teaching his family how to rescue animals.

Here's their report from the field:
When we arrived, the cormorant was standing at the pool's edge. As I approached, it jumped into the pool.
I wanted to try to capture it on land, so I got in the pool to pressure it out of the water. 
As planned, it jumped out and ran into a corner of the backyard. 
I jumped out of the pool and got within inches of netting the bird, but he slipped by me and back into the water. 
I decided to up our chances of catching it on land, and took the few minutes to set up a length of bird netting, creating a wall of net. If the bird went back into that same corner of the yard, which was likely, Charlotte and Benjamin could lift up the wall of netting and we'd have him contained.

I went back into the pool and was able to get the cormorant to hop back out.  
I was going to try and pressure him towards the area where we had the net set up, but noticed he was allowing me to get pretty close. 
I was handed the net and positioned it where I thought he would jump into the water. As predicted, he made for the water and I netted him as he dove!


Aug 17, 2014

Raccoon rescued from metal drain cover

By Rebecca Dmytryk

For transport, the raccoon was placed in an open pet carrier with the metal plate securely tied to a wooden frame.

This morning, we were contacted by Officer Montes with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter - he had a difficult rescue at hand. 

An adult raccoon had managed to get its head stuck in a metal drain cover. The sheet of diamond steel was about 3' long and maybe 2 1/2' wide and 3/8" thick. 

Evidently, the raccoon had tried to come up through one of the holes cut out of the steel plate. 

Residents woke to find the cover upturned and the raccoon struggling to free itself. They immediately called for help.

On scene, Officer Montes used soapy water to try and ease the animal's head back out of the hole, with no luck. 

If the animal was going to be saved, the metal would have to be cut. 

The raccoon was carefully loaded into the animal control truck and transported to the shelter where its fate would be decided.

Knowing WES specializes in difficult wildlife rescues, Officer Montes reached out to us for help.

Duane and I happened to be close by, headed for breakfast. We pulled off the freeway to hit the Home Depot for a few tools, and arrived at the shelter in less than 30 minutes. 

The animal had been placed in a quiet exam room, on the floor, with various items keeping the metal plate from crushing it. 

The raccoon appeared fairly calm - tired, but otherwise in excellent physical condition. The abrasions around its neck were superficial - if we could get if free from the metal plate, it could be released come nightfall. But, it needed to be sedated for the extraction. 

To date, we have found no veterinarians in the Santa Cruz area, willing to treat adult wild mammals like raccoons and bobcats. Because of this, salvageable animals face euthanasia.


It was Sunday. Highway 17 was jammed with beach goers. We would have to transport the animal over the hill to meet WES' field veterinarian, Dr. Chad Alves.

We placed the body of the raccoon in the bottom half of a pet carrier and secured the metal plate to a wooden frame so it wouldn't slide during transport.

Fifty minutes later, Duane made the first cut into the metal, using a grinder. Wet pillowcases shielded the raccoon from any sparks, and water was used to keep the metal wet and cool. (Don't miss the awesome video, below.)

It took just over thirty minutes and nearly every bit of battery power to cut through the thick steel plate.

Once the animal was free, Dr. Alves performed an examination and treated its wounds. As he was finishing the exam, the raccoon was starting to come around. 

The raccoon was placed inside a pet carrier and provided grapes, watermelon and a bowl of water. By nightfall, it should be ready to be released.

Throughout the day, the animal snacked on fruit and napped off the sedative.

At dusk, we transported the animal back home. We walked the carrier to a wooded hillside and placed it down facing a culvert where we were told it frequents. Duane opened the cage door... 

I have never seen a raccoon gallop so fast! Slappity-slappity-slappity-slappity, its leather soles of its feet hit the pavement as it shot towards the trees, banking right at the culvert and it was gone from sight.


Wildlife Emergency Services is a small, all-volunteer program - we have no paid staff, no salaried employees. We rely on contributions to cover fuel, equipment, supplies and insurance. Please, help ensure our ability to continue providing our valuable services by making a contribution. Thank you so much!

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

Check out the rescue video:

Aug 16, 2014

Return to freedom

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Last night, the Byington bobcat (his story, HERE) was released back into its domain at the winery after spending 7 weeks in rehabilitative care at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

We want to thank Byington Winery for providing our guests with an opportunity to taste their delicious wines during a fundraising reception for WES and WCSV, held prior to the release. 

It is events like these that help our two charitable organizations continue providing wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services to the community.

A huge THANK YOU! to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley and Adobe Animal Hospital for bringing this gorgeous animal back to life!

In case you missed the event and would like to support WES with a donation, click the Donate button below. Thank you!

Aug 3, 2014

Downtown woodpecker

By Rebecca Dmytryk

It was late in the afternoon when we got a call about an acorn woodpecker entrapped in the underground parking structure of 50 West San Fernando, in downtown San Jose. The address was familiar - we'd been there before for an entrapped bird...

Duane and I just happened to be in the area, so we responded.

According to Mike, the security guard who reported the bird in trouble, the bird was first spotted yesterday.

When Duane and I arrived, the bird was perched on a pipe up against a wall. 

Instead of grabbing a net and chasing after it, we needed to test its behavior to see how it would react to approach. 

It may seem counter productive to "push" a bird from it's resting spot, but in situations like this - where you have a flighted bird in an enclosed space, this information is critical to a successful capture strategy.

Mike said the bird seemed to gravitate to this one particular area - where it was perched. By walking close to the bird, we gently pressured it to move off. Indeed, it quickly returned to that same area.

A few minutes later, it flew to the ground and began picking at crumbs. It was hungry. Good.

Believing the bird would land in that general area again, and seeing that it was hungry and comfortable landing on the ground for food, Duane and I set up a drop trap. 

With the trap set, I would try to encourage the bird back to that area, hoping it would be attracted to the seeds and grain and apple bits underneath.

I walked the parking garage, applying pressure for the bird to move on. Surprisingly, the bird allowed me fairly close before it would fly... but not close enough to get it with a net... too many obstacles.

After about 5 minutes of gently "pushing" the bird from various pipes and landings, the woodpecker settled on the ground, in a corner (Yes!) and was intent on pecking at something it took for food.

Just in case it allowed me close enough, I grabbed a long-handled hoop net. 

These birds are very sensitive to movement - I needed to be sure the bag, or sock, of my net was not hanging down  - it needed to be taught. 

I began my stealthy approach toward the bird. Left fingertips pulling the bag tight over the net's handle. Right hand gripping as far back on the pole as possible for the greatest reach.

Cat-like, moving ever so slowly - freezing whenever the bird's eyes were on me, inching closer when it looked away.

I knew my moment would be when the bird's head is turned and it's focused on that bit on the ground... wait.

Heart racing, breathing accelerated.

Finally, it turned and started raking its bill on the ground. That was it.

I lunged. The bird popped up and over the hoop, I repositioned the hoop in front of it - in the direction I knew it would travel  - and bagged the bird! Yes!


As I processed the now-screaming woodpecker from the netting, Mike brought over the carrier so we could safely shuttle it up the stairs to freedom.

Check out the video of its release:


Aug 1, 2014

Goose Deuce

Andrew Bear is one of WES' newer First Responders. He joined WES earlier this year after completing our Wildlife Search and Rescue training. Andrew's pretty much up for anything - he's helped in a Western screech owl reunion, and he's become quite the goose wrangler. 

Here is his story of two recent goose rescues. 

On July 26th, late in the afternoon, I received an email from a Vasona Park ranger that there was a Canada goose with fishing line wrapped around its leg. It was reportedly near the boat rental dock. 

I had met this ranger, and several others, earlier in the year when I'd spotted another Canada with an infected and swollen foot. I and was able to capture it quickly while the ranger observed. I gave this ranger several business cards from Emergency Wildlife Services and encouraged him to report injured wildlife to WES.

I arrived at the dock later in the evening, and there were no Canada geese nearby. I decided to go a little further along the bank of the reservoir, where I have seen them gather before. 

As I stood there looking at the flock with my binoculars, two geese came ashore from the water directly in front of me: one limping with fishing net embedded in its leg!

The Canada goose allowed me to get fairly close…within about six feet, but not closer. I didn’t want the goose to fly away, so when the goose looked about to fly off, I backed off. 

I took out some bird seed mix I had in a baggy in my pocket and scattered some near my feet. As some of the birds became interested in my offerings, I ever so slowly unfolded a bed sheet and held it around my waist like a skirt. 

The injured goose pecked at the bird seed, but stayed about six feet away, no closer. 

I decided to be patient, and so we did this dance: me scattering bird seed to attract the goose, the goose watching me warily until I was a comfortable distance away, then eating the seed.  

We did this dance for nearly 40 minutes.

Then, at one point, the injured goose was positioned between me and some bushes that would not allow the goose much take off room. 

I waited for that moment - for the bird to put its head down.

The goose looked down and began eating the seed - I threw the sheet over him/her, then grabbed the sheet-wrapped goose in a way that stabilized its wings against my body.


I transported the goose the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (a few minutes before closing time—thank you staff!), where they were able to cut the line off the goose’s leg and treat its wound. It would remain at the wildlife hospital until its leg was completely healed.

The next morning I received another email from the Vasona Park ranger, saying that the goose that was spotted with fishing line around its leg is still there, that I must have caught another Canada goose with fishing line around it’s leg! 

I returned to Vasona Park, went to the flock just past the boat rental dock again, and immediately saw a goose limping. As I got closer, I saw a much larger amount of fishing line around its leg.

This goose was not putting any weight on its left leg.  

I had my bag of seed and sheet with me, as usual. As I took out the seed, geese raced from all over, honking with wings spread out, with much excitement. 

As the flock was in the throes of excitement, I was able to maneuver into positions was close to the injured goose, and captured him/her quickly. 

Back to the wildlife center!

UPDATE: 8-15-2014

Both geese rescued by Andrew made full recoveries and were released today, back where they were captured. Check out the great video below.




If you want to help cover the cost of gas or supplies or support our 
field response capabilities, consider making a donation of any size.

Thank you!!!

If you'd like to become a volunteer First Responder like Andrew, sign up HERE.