Jun 9, 2018

Young girl, little bird, big heart

By Deanna Barth

Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Victor and his compassionate daughter Jeanette. 

Early in the morning, Jeanette found a nestling House Sparrow on the ground outside their home. She carefully scooped it up and carried it inside where she asked her parents to help it. They placed it on a soft cloth and began searching online for advice on how to care for it. 

Fearing he would do more harm by feeding it the wrong food, Victor chose to just keep it warm and left a message for me this morning (perfect!). They tucked the baby safely in a box and left it on the front porch so I could pick it up after work.

I was able to collect the baby around midday. I took it home to our (WES') makeshift ER and placed it in the incubator. 

Soon after, it was warm and actively vocalizing, so I began feeding it the proper diet about every 20 minutes. 

Once Victor returned home from work, I headed over to their residence to place the healthy bird back in the nest beneath the roof tile. 

I could hear the other nestlings loudly peeping and parent bird was hopping on the roof waiting impatiently for me to leave. 

A huge THANK YOU! to this lovely family for caring enough to make this wild reunion possible.

If you'd like to support Deanna and WES' San Benito program that 
she operates, please click the Donate button, below. Thank you!

May 20, 2018

Mallard hen and ducklings escorted to safety

By Deanna Barth

Earlier this week, I was contacted by a homeowner who had discovered a mallard duck and five little ducklings in her pool, which is not an uncommon occurrence, this time of year. 

Mallard hens seek out safe places to nest, and this particular backyard provided, not only a water source, but shelter from predators and mallard drakes. 

Unfortunately, a situation like this - a swimming pool and enclosed backyard, was not a suitable place for the wild duck family to stay. Keeping them there and feeding them was not an option. They might become habituated to people. 

For the well-being of the ducks, they needed to be returned to their natural habitat. 

Typically, we would open the gate to allow the hen and ducklings to leave on their own, or gently herd them a certain direction. 

Instinctively, the hen wants to lead her babies to the closest body of water - one that she has spied from her flights. The closest body of water, however, was across a busy highway. This would not only be dangerous for the ducks, but also to drivers, as the ducks could potentially cause a traffic collision. 

Most wild birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and wildlife in our state is protected by California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This duck family could not be captured and moved to a safer location without prior authorization.

WES has a permit that allows us to move migratory birds that are either in imminent danger or may pose a threat to human safety. We also called our local game warden for his opinion. 

It was decided - we would capture the duck family and escort them across the highway to the closest pond. For anyone who has worked with mallards, you know it's not easy to capture a flighted adult. This was definitely a two-person job.

This morning, WES' founder, Rebecca Dmytryk, met me at the residence to assist in capturing the duck family. 

After observing their behavior, we made a plan to contain the ducklings first, then capture the hen by luring her with the ducklings.

We used long-handled dip nets to gently scoop the ducklings from the pool, then we set them next to a drop trap.

A drop trap, described in Rebecca's book Wildlife Search and Rescue: A Guide to First Responders, is the simplest and safest way to catch an adult mallard. Check out the video below to see how it works. 

Once we had the mother contained in a separate carrier for safety, we drove to the pond.

It's important for the babies to be let go first, in an open area where the mother can see and hear them.

All went as planned. A happy reunion!

May 19, 2018

5 Snakes Caught in Garden Netting

There are no warning labels. Nothing to prepare the consumer for what might happen if garden netting is used in a natural setting.

This is what can happen.

Today, WES responders received a call about 5 gopher snakes entangled in garden netting that was placed to protect the base of saplings. 

Four of the snakes were rescued alive, the fifth was dead when we arrived.

Watch the video below.

May 3, 2018

Young lady save baby bird

By Deanna Barth

I had the pleasure of meeting this lovely young lady today because of her desire to help a baby bird. 

After speaking with dad over the phone and determining that the bird was a healthy fledgling, we met on school campus so Alexa could show me exactly where she found it. 

As we were walking towards the area, the parent Starlings flew from their nest in the corner of the roof. 

I explained that the saying, “If you touch a baby bird the parents will abandon it,” is a myth. So she gently tucked it inside the bushes beneath the nest. 

We also discussed that there would soon be more fledglings hopping around the playground and that it would be her job to educate her teachers and fellow students to leave them be. 

I applaud her for her concern and willingness to help this little one today. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the next generation display compassion for all living things. 

Great job Alexa!!!

Apr 26, 2018

Hummingbird returns home

By Deanna Barth

In the late afternoon of 4/15, I received a message from a lovely woman I had met from a previous rescue. This time she was concerned about a possibly orphaned hummingbird in her backyard. 

Her children had noticed it on the ground beneath the trees while they were playing. She was unable to find the nest, but carefully placed the tiny bird up high and made sure that everyone, including the family pets, were brought inside to give the parent bird the opportunity to care for it. 

She watched and waited, but nothing happened.

I asked several questions over the phone and while her answers prompted concern, I thought perhaps the feeding had happened so quickly (we’re talking seconds!) that she just didn’t see it. So, I drove over to the residence to see for myself. 

This time of year I spend a lot of time educating people about nestling and fledgling birds, often telling them to “put it back.” So the last thing I wanted to do was rescue a bird that didn’t need to be. The family and I watched quietly from a distance for nearly an hour, and although the fledgling was peeping loudly and there were adult hummingbirds flying through the area, sadly, none showed any interest in this little one. 

As the sunlight was quickly fading, I gently picked the bird up and placed it in a small carrier. It was hydrated and kept warm overnight and transferred to the wildlife center the following day. 

Staff confirmed this Anna’s Hummingbird wasn’t sick or injured but thought perhaps it had fledged prematurely. The bird received supportive care and after just a few days, began to self-feed. 

I had the pleasure of returning this little one “home” today. As soon as I opened the box it flew to the branch of an orange tree and rested for a moment before zipping away.

Deanna Barth runs WES' San Benito chapter. Keep up with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wildlifeemergencyservicessanbenito

Apr 21, 2018

Dove nest reconstruction

By Deanna Barth

Thursday evening I received a call from a woman who found a dove on her front lawn. It was dark when I arrived and by flashlight I could see the parent bird up above on the nest. I picked up the nestling with the intent to put it back the next day as long as wildlife center staff deemed it healthy. 

The following afternoon I returned to the site and cringed when I saw the second nestling teetering on the edge of the poorly created nest. 

I’ve renested many doves by attaching a basket to a branch. But this bird had chosen to nest on the side of a palm, in a small space created by the rough trunk. Placing a basket would not be easy. Adding to my frustration- it was 25’ high. It was a matter of time before the second nestling tumbled to the ground, but it would have to wait until my husband could help me set up his tallest ladder. 

Today I called the wildlife center for an update on the first nestling and was informed it had a laceration that had been sutured so it needed to remain in care. I focused my attention on preventing the bird currently in the nest from suffering the same fate. 

I drilled several holes in the bottom of a plastic basket and two more on the side to attach twine. Once at the top of the ladder, I picked up the nestling and placed both it and the nesting material in the basket. It was placed in the same location and tied to the trunk. 

The goal is to always keep wild families together and it often takes a lot of time and patience to make that happen. 

I couldn’t call it a happy ending until I knew the bird was being cared for. I went back shortly after sunset to confirm parent bird is back on the nest. Success!

Deanna Barth runs WES' San Benito chapter. Keep up with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wildlifeemergencyservicessanbenito

Apr 19, 2018

Commission Approves Progressive Predator Policy

By Rebecca Dmytryk

In December, 2015, I was appointed by the California Fish and Game Commission to serve on the newly established Predator Policy Workgroup. This group of ten, representing wildlife conservation, non-lethal wildlife control, hunting and agriculture, was tasked with the job of reviewing existing regulations that govern terrestrial carnivores and making recommendations to modernize them, and, developing a separate policy for predators.

It was a cumbersome process. Over a 24-month period, we met only 8 times, our meetings and communications were hamstrung by the Bagley-Keene Act, and, not only were we, on the wildlife conservation side, outnumbered, the majority of workgroup members were lobbyists - making compromise virtually impossible.

Despite the difficulties, the workgroup did accomplish some important work. After thorough review of the regulations, we submitted constructive feedback. You can view our recommendations, HERE. The group also crafted a comprehensive terrestrial predator policy, with only two points of contention - the inclusion of the word humane, as it relates to methods used to resolve predator conflicts, and exclusion of recreational take

Today, after listening to our final presentations and hearing testimony from professionals and members of the public (view the video of Agenda Item 32HERE)the Fish and Game Commission voted to adopt the Terrestrial Predator Policy (below) with a slight revision proposed by Commissioner Williams - which we supported.

Terrestrial Predator Policy 
(as amended by the Fish & Game Commission, April 19, 2018) 

It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission that: 

I. For the purposes of this policy, terrestrial predators are defined as all native wildlife species in the Order Carnivora, except those in the Family Otariidae (seals, sea lions), the Family Phocidae (true seals), and sea otters (Enhydra lutris). 

II. Pursuant to the objectives set forth in Section 1801 of Fish and Game Code, the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) acknowledges that native terrestrial predators are an integral part of California’s natural wildlife and possess intrinsic, biological, historical, and cultural value, which benefit society and ecosystems. The Commission shall promote the ecological, scientific, aesthetic, recreational, and educational value of native terrestrial predators in the context of ecosystem-based management, while minimizing adverse impacts on wildlife and reducing conflicts that result in adverse impacts to humans, including health and safety, private property, agriculture, and other public and private economic impacts. 

III. The Commission further recognizes that sustainable conservation and management strategies are necessary to encourage the coexistence of humans and wildlife. It is, therefore, the policy and practice of the Fish and Game Commission that: 

a. Existing native terrestrial predator communities and their habitats are monitored, maintained, restored, and/or enhanced using the best available science. The department shall protect and conserve predator populations. 

b. Native terrestrial predator management shall be consistent with the goals and objectives of existing management and conservation plans. Management strategies shall recognize the ecological interactions between predators and other wildlife species and consider all available management tools, best available science, affected habitat, species, and ecosystems and other factors. The department shall provide consumptive and non-consumptive recreational opportunities. The recreational take of native terrestrial predator species shall be managed in a way that ensures sustainable populations of predator and prey are maintained. 

c. Human-predator conflict resolution shall rely on management strategies that avoid and reduce conflict that results in adverse impacts to human health and safety, private property, agriculture, and public and private economic impacts. Efforts should be made to minimize habituation of predators especially where it is leading to conflict. Human safety shall be considered a priority. Management decisions regarding human-predator conflicts shall evaluate and consider various forms of lethal and nonlethal controls that are efficacious, humane, feasible and in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. A diverse set of tools is necessary to avoid, reduce, and manage conflict. To ensure long term conservation of predators and coexistence with humans and wildlife, all legal tools shall be considered when managing to address conflicts.  

While the Predator Policy Workgroup was officially disbanded earlier this year, I am looking forward to continuing to work on modernizing the regulations with at least one of the original workgroup members, Josh Brones. 

We're currently in recruitment mode, looking for people with knowledge and experience in wildlife conservation, hunting and agriculture, who are willing and able to invest the time and energy necessary. If you or someone you know is interested in being a part of this new ten-member workgroup, please contact me at rebecca (at) wildlifeservices dot org.

A huge THANK YOU! to everyone who worked on the drafting and review process and to the Fish & Game Commission for adopting a progressive predator policy!  

I also want to thank our WES supporters. Your contributions have helped get me to and from Workgroup meetings and Commission hearings. Your continued support is greatly appreciated. Thank you!!!

Apr 12, 2018

Opossum survives dog attack and being tossed in the trash

By Deanna Barth

This female opossum found herself in the mouth of a large dog on March 16th. Presuming she was dead, the homeowner tossed her lifeless body in the garbage can. 

Luckily the teenage daughter is a huge animal lover and when she went outside later to check on her, she not only found the opossum alive and well, but with several young in her pouch. 

The teen had no idea who to call for help and spent the next two days taking dog food, fruit and water out to the frightened animal. She was given my information on the third day and contacted me. 

Shortly after arriving I proceeded to empty the entire contents of the garbage can to be sure I had all the babies. 

Sadly, two had become separated and died but the nine in her pouch were warm and in good shape. “Mamma” opossum had one large wound over her left hip but appeared healthy otherwise. 

I transported her to the wildlife center where they have been receiving excellent care for nearly a month while her wound healed. 

Thanks to this teen’s compassion early on, I was able to return this family back to the same location tonight.

Deanna Barth runs WES' San Benito chapter. Keep up with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wildlifeemergencyservicessanbenito

Dec 23, 2017

Tragic loss of a bobcat

By Rebecca Dmytryk

I see a lot of injury and suffering and death in this line of work. Over the many years I've become "professionally numb"  - careful not to get too caught up in emotion - get the job done - get the animal help. 

This one animal's story, though, is so tragic.

In September 2016, we rescued a female bobcat from the Elkhorn Slough area. She was suffering from mange and blood test revealed she'd been exposed to an anticoagulant -likely a rodenticide. More on her rescue, HERE.

Thanks to the great work by Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, she was successfully rehabilitated, and released right back in her home territory, just yards from where I'd trapped her. More on her release, HERE.

During her rehabilitation, physical exams suggested she might have been pregnant, but this was never confirmed.

Throughout 2017, we received reports of mangey bobcats in the same area from time to time. We know of at least one that died and its body was buried before it could be tested. I'd wondered if this was "our" bobcat.

Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) are so dangerous because the chemicals stay in the body - in the liver - for a long time - over a year, I've heard. So, I wondered, could we have cured the bobcat of mange and reversed hemorrhaging but set her free with the poisons still inside her?

On October 29th WES responded a report of two sick bobcats at the slough - a mother and kitten. Both were suffering from mange.

We successfully captured the kitten. Video, HERE.

Blood tests revealed the kitten had been exposed to an anticoagulant. 

The good news - the kitten is still alive and in care at a local wildlife hospital and expected to be released back into the wild.

Since then, we have been trying to find and capture the mother. Could she be the cat we rescued and released last year? 

We would get reports of a sickly bobcat in the same area, but our attempts to trap the animal failed. Very elusive. Was she trap wise?

Today we received word that a bobcat had been found, dead. We went to investigate.

It was our female bobcat. A lucky photo of her teeth from when she was released in 2016 confirmed her identity. She died next to a guzzler - a small trough of water. Animals poisoned by anticoagulants start to bleed internally and become very thirsty. Everything points to poison as the cause of death. 

Tragic... on so many levels. 

A huge thank you to Elkhorn Slough Reserve for allowing us to send the liver for testing to confirm exposure to anticoagulants and determine which anticoagulants she was exposed to. Perhaps this will lead us to the local source. Perhaps there is a way to do a DNA test to confirm she's the mother of the kitten that's still in care. 

It's so very, very, very sad. 

I have seen too many bobcats die from poison over the years. Anticoagulant poisons must be banned. Now! This is urgent! We must take action, now! Are you in? 

Join us in banning anticoagulants in California. Can you make signs, go to rallies, attend a parade or two, make phone calls, sit with us in government offices, speak at meetings? If you can't participate in an activist's role, send money. We'll need it for travel to Sacramento and throughout CA to meet with decision-makers. 

Thank you all... 


Nov 19, 2017

Readying for 2018

As we head into the holiday season and toward the new year, we wanted to give thanks to everyone who has supported our endeavors. You made it possible for us to save lives on so many fronts.

Your donations funded our emergency response team, which helped us rescue hundreds of wild animals that would have otherwise gone unassisted.

Your support helped us reach thousands of people through our workshops, speaking engagements, and seminars, where we shared our knowledge and expertise. 

You also helped fund lab tests that proved wild animals had been exposed to poison, helping us bring attention to the risk of rodenticides.

Now, as the year draws to a close, we'd like to ask for your continued support in 2018. 

To make a contribution, click HERE, or, check out the list of special projects below. 

Again, thank you for your past and continued support!

Rebecca Dmytryk
Founder and CEO

Rodenticide Screenings
Help us bring an end to anticoagulant rodenticide use. 

In 2018 we want to test more wildlife for anticoagulant rodenticide exposure to help establish how pervasive and dangerous these poisons are. We want to include deceased feral cats in this study. To our knowledge this has never been done. Each test costs $150.00. Click the Donate button below to contribute towards this project. Thank you for your support!

Coyote Capture Trap

Coyotes are by far the most difficult animals to capture. They do not go into cage traps readily. We would like to build and test a prototype of a large coyote "trap". If it proves successful, we would make this capture tool available to other organizations and agencies to safely capture coyotes in need of medical attention. Initial prototype $2,000.00. Includes radio for remote triggering. Click the Donate button below to contribute towards this project. Thank you! 

Education and Advocacy

Last year, WES founder, Rebecca Dmytryk, was appointed to the Department of Fish and Wildlife's Predator Policy Workgroup. The group of 10 was tasked with reviewing the State's wildlife policies and regulations and proposing changes. Unfortunately, the workgroup made little progress, but Dmytryk is committed to the job. She will lead an informal workgroup to continue the important work - reviewing the regulations and proposing changes to better reflect today's conservation values. 

Also for 2018, WES has a number of speaking engagements already calendared, including two presentations in Southern California on Living With Urban Coyotes and three wildlife capture and handling trainings. 

Click the Donate button below to help cover costs of travel to provide our educational presentations and attend Fish and Game commission meetings throughout the state. Thank you for your support!

Basic Supplies

We'd like to provide our lead responders with a couple of new nets with custom bags for special rescues, and resupply them with gloves, safety glasses, masks, hand cleaner, towels and sheets, and a small mammal carrier. Each kit, including the nets, will run us about $85.00. Click the Add to Cart button below to purchase a kit for one of our lead rescuers. Thank you! 

Quad-County Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

And if you have $500,000.00 sitting around that you don't know what to do with, we're looking to establish a wildlife center to serve San Benito and surrounding counties. Desperately needed. This includes two salaried positions for three years at $50,000.00 each - for a Wildlife Care Manager and Rescue Coordinator, and $200,000.00 for start-up, enclosures, supplies and general operating expenses over 3 years. We need a backer before we can be serious about any kind or lease agreement. Please contact rebecca@wildlifeservices.org if you're interested or have any ideas or questions. 

Thank you!!!!

Oct 28, 2017

The real horror of fake spider webbing

This bee was found dead - entangled in the filaments of fake spider web decor at a home of the West Side.  

Just a reminder to all, about how dangerous the fake spider web material can be to wildlife - especially flying animals that don't have the strength or ability to break away from the manmade material.

Here's a story of an owl that was snagged by the webbing. Thankfully, it was rescued in time. Not so for these bees, pictured here.

Please, please do not use this material outside!

Sep 30, 2017

Another bobcat with mange

By Rebecca Dmytryk

On Tuesday, WES was referred a call about a bobcat with mange in Aptos. A resident had seen it drinking from their pool in the mornings, for about three days in a row. They sent a photo showing a very thin, very ill cat.

I arrived on scene at about 9 the next morning. A beautiful mediterranean-style home atop a hill surrounded by oak woodlands and agricultural fields. 

I set a large cage-trap in the backyard, positioning it along the path the cat would take to drink from the pool, and baited it with a bit of rotisserie chicken and some raw venison pet food. Yellow jackets swarmed in quickly. 

A few yards away, the pool sweeper hissed and spit water onto the patio. I worried this might hamper the rescue but there was no way to turn it off.

With the house empty and the yard quiet, I sat in the rescue truck and watched and waited, and listened for birds to alarm. About every 15 minutes I'd check the trap from a distance. Nothing.

By 10:40 there'd been no sign of the cat and it had grown uncomfortably hot. I packed up the trap and headed down the long wooded driveway, and of course, there was the bobcat. It skirted in front of the truck and stared as I drove by, slowly. 

I went to the bottom of the driveway and turned around. As I headed back up the hill, the cat had made its way closer to the path that led to the backyard. 

I rushed to get the trap set, then back to the truck before being seen.

Too late! 

As I rounded the truck to jump in the driver's seat, there it was, some 30 yards away on the edge of the driveway - stationary, staring at me. 

I got in the truck and closed the door quietly. The cat disappeared into the bushes, headed in the right direction. Out of sight, I hopped back out and ran to the backyard through another gate on the opposite side of the pool. 

Finally she appeared. This poor bobcat. So emaciated, so covered in mange. Heartbreaking. And we probably did this to her.

As she walked to the edge of the pool, the skimmer gurgled and spit water - she barely reacted. She was driven by incredible thirst.

Animals that consume poisoned rodents - rodents that have eaten bait containing anticoagulants, receive a dose of the poison. One poison-laced mouse might not be enough to kill a healthy bobcat, but, these powerful agents build up in an animal's organs, and, after a certain point, the immune system is compromised and the anticoagulants cause internal hemorrhaging. Blood loss then triggers intense thirst. 

From across the pool I documented the bobcat as she drank, and drank, and drank. 

After about 10 minutes, she shook her wet paws and started to walk towards the trap. I thought for sure she'd notice the food, but, she didn't even look at it. She walked right by the trap, climbed a wall, and settled in a patch of sunlight to groom herself. 

So disappointing. I thought for sure I'd need to return with live bait to catch her attention. 

After about 15 minutes I decided to try and get some footage of her resting. When she wasn't looking, I positioned myself directly across the pool from where she was. 

The poor thing - she was in such bad shape, and it was so frustrating - she was right there, but I couldn't get her. The huntress in me was thinking of all the ways I might try to capture her, but none was as sure as the trap. I needed to keep hold of patience and hope. 

After a few minutes she became a bit restless and then, to my surprise, she got up and hopped back down the wall, presumably for more water - then she noticed the food in the trap.

I felt a rush of adrenaline as she approached the trap and started working the side of the cage with her claws, desperately trying to get at the chicken breast. My heart was racing. Then I got shot with a spray from the stupid pool skimmer.  

The bobcat kept working the side of the cage as yellow jackets buzzed her face. I worried she'd trip the door. 

Finally, annoyed with the wasps, she made her way around to the front of the trap and, without any hesitation, walked right in and tripped the pedal. Done. 

I grabbed a bed sheet from the truck and covered the trap to carry her to the rescue truck. She was calm. Not a good sign.

It was about an hour's drive to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley where she would receive expert care. 

They took her weight - she was just over 8 pounds, and, in spite of it being an extremely hot day, her temperature was only 98.

She died Friday afternoon. 

This once beautiful thriving feline queen of the woodlands was brought to nothing but bones and fur and flesh - her wild life slowly faded as she suffered horribly in her final days, gripping to precious life, and we probably did this to her.

If this story saddens you - if you feel anger or outrage, allow your emotions to empower you - to move you to action. Arm yourself with facts about rodenticides (some links below), be ready to take a stance - be ready to speak up and speak out because we are headed for battle. We are going to outlaw anticoagulant rodenticides - we must!

We will be sending her body to UC Davis for a necropsy to determine the cause of death and what poisons may have contributed to her demise. If you want to donate specifically to anticoagulant testing or our efforts to ban anticoagulant rodenticides, click HERE. And thank you!

Why Poisons Matter

Updated info

EPA's 2008 Risk Mitigation Doc 

Poisons Still For Sale

List of research studies

Map of bobcats reported to WES. ORANGE = suffering from mange, BLACK = suffering from mange and captured, BLUE = observed healthy, GREEN = captured, treated for mange and AR exposure and released.