Jul 30, 2011

Crafting For Wildlife!

Today, San Francisco Bay Area Team Leaders, Max and Patrick, hosted the first Crafting For Wildlife event - a program to help local rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

Participants helped make surrogate 'moms' for orphan wild babies. Used stuffed toy animals were fitted with zippered bellies to hold warm fluid bags. 

The 15  plush surrogates will be distributed among Bay Area wildlife hospitals to help the animals in care. 

Nest month's Crafting For Wildlife will be in San Francisco, on August 20th, where participants will be guided on constructing barn owl nest-boxes. 

Be sure to RSVP with Max, and keep posted on Facebook.

Click here to support Crafting For Wildlife with a small donation for supplies. Thank you!


Seamstress: Looking for someone to help create a prototype. Pretty simple pattern. Will pay for all materials. In case the idea goes over well, we will need someone with the space in which to operate a number of machines and manage a couple of helpers. At that point this would be a paid position. Prefer local (Monterey / SF Bay Area) but not required.

Assistant Event Organizer: We're planning a fundraising event in San Francisco for early December. Our The Year In Rescues - probably at Fort Mason. We're looking for a couple of folks to join our committee to help pull it off. Tasks shall include collecting items for the silent auction, working with vendors, organizing volunteers for the evening. This is a volunteer position.

Media Relations Assistant: Looking for someone who wants to help us out from time to time. Must be able to drop everything on a moment's notice to write a press release and contact media about breaking news. Sharp, charming, yet authoritative personality, plus excellent writing skills - imperative. This is a volunteer position.

EBAY Auction Site Manager: We are in need of someone to oversee our eBay auction - to keep things listed and to procure more items, such as gift certificates, etc. Work from home. This will start out as a volunteer position with the possibility of becoming a paid position.

JOB/POSITION INFO - CONTACT: rebecca (at) wildrescue (dot) org

Jul 29, 2011

Attacks on coyotes...

This week, the City of Laguna Woods, CA, voted to allow the shooting of coyotes, claiming they have become more bold. WildRescue's Director, Rebecca Dmytryk, comments on the news:
So many people have grown out of touch with nature - they've forgotten that they are animals living among other animals.
There is natural law and order, but humans don't play by the rules, and that gets them in trouble.
Unfortunately, there is nothing odd about a coyote snatching a pet, even off of a leash. These accounts are on the rise, but it is NOT because the coyotes are growing bolder - it’s nothing that can be culled from a population, because it is a learned behavior - taught to them by humans.
People, through their lack of understanding about nature and coyotes, have 'trained' the wild dogs to be comfortable around humans. Therefore, until people learn to teach the coyotes to fear them again, which is their instinct, these incidents will go on and on and on and on, no matter how many coyotes are slaughtered.
Coyotes preying on pets is a symptom, not the problem. Extermination of coyotes does not address the problem - the problem is human behavior.
When I receive a call about a loitering coyote, I ask "When you see the coyote, what's your reaction - what do you do?" The typical answer is, nothing - they say that they just look at it, or they go back inside their house - nothing that says to the coyote they had better scram!
For there to be change within the coyote population, there must be change in the behavior of the human population. Every encounter a coyote has with a human must be a negative one. For example, having a ‘penny-can’ thrown at them, being chased down, feeling the sting of a paint ball - there are numerous aversion tactics that will work - but it is work, and requires the commitment of a town's citizens. 
Trapping and killing coyotes is a cop out. It is a waste of money, and a crime against nature.
Rebecca Dmytryk 

Jul 24, 2011

Golden Eagle Rescue

When Norm first noticed the injured golden eagle on his property, he began looking for help. He called everywhere he could think of. Some places told him they'd treat the bird if he could get it to them - easier said than done for a man in is 80s, even as fit as he is. Other's told Norm to let nature takes its course - to leave it be. No one would come to his aid for the animal.

On the private estate located in the rugged wilderness off Highway 152 in Gilroy, the majestic bird traveled between a stand of oak trees and a gulch of monkey flower and sagebrush, remaining close to where it had fallen - underneath a mass of high-voltage power lines - probably the cause of its damaged wing. Researchers suggest that power line casualties, in California alone, may be as high as 4.6 million birds per year as they are somewhat invisible to birds. Read more, HERE.

Over the nest week or so, Norm helped keep the bird alive by tossing it rats, mice, and chicken when he had it. 

Finally, WildRescue received word of the eagle and immediately went into action. Here is their account of the rescue:

We arrived mid-morning. The fog had lifted, it was sunny and getting warm.

The bird was down slope, in the gulch. When it saw us, it tried to escape, but couldn't get airborne - instead, it went under, disappearing into thick brush.

We split the team in two - one group stayed high, as spotters. The other group, (Deanna, Amir, and i) used an old dirt PGE access road to get directly below where the bird was last observed. 

We spread out and began our ascent through the coastal sagebrush in a V-formation - the search pattern we typically use in rescues. 

With no sign of the eagle, Amir went higher to try and flush the bird, but, again, no luck - the bird was not where we'd thought. Deanna and i began to close in, working toward Amir's position. We believed it had tunneled into a thicket of Western bracken fern.

Suddenly, and VERY much to my surprise, the eagle sprang from the foliage no more than 8' above me, talons outstretched, wings spread to near 6' and i recall a nanosecond of direct and piercing eye contact. I instinctively dodged left, feathers and talons shot off to the right. The bird began disappearing under the brush again, but i managed to get hold of its uninjured wrist and then its good shoulder, and then, with gloved hands, i gained control of the eagle's talons.

Deanna and Amir were quick to help get the bird's head and wings contained in a lightweight pillow case where it would be calmer and easier to manage as we made it out of the ravine.


Back at the vehicle the bird was placed into a large dog carrier, covered, and placed into an air-conditioned van for transport to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. ~ Rebecca

On arrival, the bird was quickly examined by the Center's wildlife clinician. The eagle, weighing in at 7 pounds, was thin and dehydrated, but very alert. It had suffered a dislocation of its shoulder, again, very likely due to the transmission lines. Radiographs will be taken today, but the prognosis is not good. The animal was given fluids, antibiotics, and pain medication. We will update this entry as we receive word of the bird's condition.

Many, many, many thanks to Norm, Amir, and Julie for their determination in finding help for this bird. Also, we are very grateful for the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for their efforts. You can visit them online at WCSV

Watch video of the rescue, HERE.

UPDATE: 8-1-2011

Sad news to report: This morning, in preparation for surgery, detailed radiographs revealed the bones of the wing could not be repaired, as once thought, and the eagle was allowed to pass on. Thank you - everyone who rallied for this bird and WCSV's efforts to see it fly free again.

What we need to take away from this tragedy is that it could have had a very different ending had the bird been rescued sooner. It was a week before we got word, despite the finder's numerous calls, looking for help. We must make sure these places know that we are reachable 24/7.

Jul 22, 2011

Hooked gull...

WildRescue received a call about a gull with a fishing hook embedded in its mouth at Lake Merritt in Oakland. The San Francisco Bay Area Team was quick to respond. The gull was quickly captured and given a cursory exam  before being transported to International Bird Rescue, in Fairfield, for rehabilitative care.

A rabid bat...

...does not a rabid colony make!

In a suburban neighborhood of Spanish-tiled houses nestled at the base of Big Mountain in Moorpark, CA, a population of small bats also calls this place home. 

They are California Myotis. About 2” inches long with light brown fur and dark-colored wings. These flighted mammals can live up tor 40 years in complex societies where they maintain extremely close bonds. In addition to being highly intelligent, bats are extremely gentle, and beneficial to humans. Small bats like these can catch and consume 600 mosquitoes (and other flying insects) in an hour.

In recent weeks, a few of these bats have been found 'grounded', and of those (grounded) bats, a number of them have tested positive for rabies.

A grounded bat testing positive for rabies, while it is not very common (typically, 95% of all grounded bats test negative for rabies) it's not unheard of, either. Possible reasons for the increased number of rabid bats, is 1) it's still ‘pupping’ season, and juvenile bats are more susceptible to the disease and 2) rabies cases typically spike during summer months, with high temperatures, and during periods of drought.

Most importantly, though, these findings do not mean that the entire colony is rabid. 

A bat pup from the colony.
Photo courtesy of Miriam Quintaro.
A rabid bat will leave its home to die alone. This is probably why there has never been an outbreak of rabies in a colony in all recorded history.

A number of homes in this particular neighborhood have bats living under the tiles. Unfortunately, the Ventura County Health Department ordered one roost destroyed - the homeowner was delivered a 24-hour notice. Facing fines or jail time the homeowner complied.

Steve Balderama, a wildlife trapper, was hired for $1,000.00. He blocked holes with foam, screened off other entrances, and set a funnel and small wire box to supposedly trap all the adult bats as they left to feed at night. 

After the contraption was installed, the owner was told it would be an additional fee to retrieve any trapped bats. Does this mean the trapper was not going to check his trap in 24-hours and remove any trapped bats? That would be a violation of his trapping permit.

Friday, WildRescue joined the efforts of local wildlife rehabilitators, inviting the help of bat expert, Amamda Lollar (Bat World Sanctuary), in helping them solve the neighborhood bat problems, safely and soundly.  

If steps are taken to evict or eradicate the bats, now, it will likely cause huge problems for people living in the vicinity by increasing the number of grounded bats. 

If the adult bats are removed, the pups in the nursery will starve. As the pups become hungry, they will crawl or try to fly from the roost. This means the neighborhood could be inundated with starving juvenile bats that children and pets might come into contact with. Those that die up under the tiles will start to rot, potentially causing an additional health hazard.

Even if the bats are humanely excluded, now, the mother bats would exhaust themselves trying to get back to their young, eventually ending up weak and grounded. Doing anything, now, is a bad idea.

According to bat experts and wildlife exclusion specialists, homeowners should wait a few more weeks until the bat pups are able to fly, then humanely evict the entire colony from their roost sites. 

It would be nice to see the bats have some where to go, perhaps bat houses mounted nearby, in the adjacent vacant land, where this beneficial population can go on providing insect control to the area without posing a nuisance or risk to nearby human residents.

WildRescue and Bat World Sanctuary will, again, try reaching out to the Ventura County Public Health and City of Moorpark on Monday with advice on safe alternatives to remedying this situation.


Read the Los Angeles County Public Health Advisory
that states that most bats do not have rabies.

UPDATE: So far, the trapper's contraption has failed - yet there are fewer bats being observed. The raucous appears to have driven many of the bats from the home. 

Jul 21, 2011

Pelican rescue at Elkhorn Slough

WildRescue responder, Ron Eby, who works on the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, sighted a brown pelican on shore near Hummingbird Island. It was very quiet and moved slowly. On closer inspection he found it had a hook embedded in its wing.

The bird was transferred to Monterey SPCA and, when stable, will be driven to International Bird Rescue for a full recovery.

Jul 16, 2011

Red-Tailed Hawk Re-nested

A juvenile red-tailed hawk was given a second chance to be raised wild by its parents after being found grounded at Crystal Springs Golf Course over a week ago. 

Dress rehearsal!

Patrick Hogan, who works as a wildlife rehabilitator at Peninsula Humane Society, where the bird was admitted for care, built an artificial nest, taking direction from expert re-nester Anne Miller, founder of the Alabama Wildlife Center. The nest provides the young bird a sturdy place to finish developing, with enough cover for it to be protected from predators.

Thanks to arborists, Christopher Altman, owner of Trees Company (link to his great blog), for attaching the new nest in the tree, and James Reed for climbing up and placing the baby in its new home. This reunion would not have been possible without their generous help!

The young bird was watched for some time after being placed. An adult - one of the parents, landed in an adjacent tree. The young hawk began calling out. Reports have been coming in that all seems well. The bird's progress will be monitored.

Jul 10, 2011

Good News!

A Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill follow up by Patrick Hogan:

I just received word that back in January, 2011 a brown pelican was spotted in Port Isabel, Texas, with a pink band on its leg - a post-release identifying marker from the Deepwater Horizon Spill, number C-97. 
To anyone else that band number may not have any significance, but to those of us who spent our summer months in the heat of Louisiana, working long hours to rescue, clean and rehabilitate oiled birds, it means everything.
As a rule we do not name our wild patients, however, BRPE-C-97, was known by a select few as "Micro-Baby", the smallest (and unforgettably cutest) of the young pelicans received during the spill. 
It was just about a year ago that this baby pelican was recovered from one of the nesting colonies off Grande Isle, LA. On admission to the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Center, he was found to have a fracture to one of his wings. His wings were so small and fragile that a popsicle stick was the only thing suitable to stabilize the break with.
For almost a week, the baby pelican was kept in the Center's stabilization area and hand fed, as he was too young to self-feed. He was then carefully washed to remove the oil and soon graduated to an outdoor enclosure.
Very quickly, this baby pelican was winning the admiration of everyone for cute, friendly and peculiar behavior. This is when he became affectionately known as "Micro-baby". 
Micro-baby required hand-feeding for a couple of weeks. Everyone was eager to be the person feeding. 
Unfortunately, through such close contact with multiple caregivers, his 'friendly' behavior continued and soon became a concern. 
Micro was put on 'Staff Only' feedings, with a focus on getting him to self-feed. He should be eating on his own and associating with pelicans more than humans.
As the weeks went on, Micro-baby began to self-feed, but had yet to start socializing with pelicans; he maintained an obvious 'happy' reaction when a human entered the aviary to feed or clean.

Soon, the talk of Micro became very serious. A decision had to be made. Was he imprinted or habituated, and if so, was it reversible? If not, there were only 2 options - neither was good. Micro would either be euthanized or placed in a captive environment for the rest of his life. 
For many wildlife rehabilitators, zoos are looked on unfavorably. In zoos, while animals may be provided basic necessities, like food, shelter, and water - which can make people feel like the animal is getting what it needs, wild animals are not able to live free and wild as they are meant to, and as they deserve. Instead they are on display where they are viewed and essentially harassed by humans all day. Placing a wild animal into a zoo may be a life-sparing decision, it condemns an animal to lifelong imprisonment, which in turn may be worse. Read more about the reality of life behind bars in Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos, by Derrick Jensen. Also, check out this wonderful piece, Quality of Life, by wildlife rehabilitator, Kay McKeever, (for $1.00 through NWRA).
Being that Micro was headed down a 'bad road' either way, we came up with a plan to reverse his behavior. "Scary Human", was to be done 3 times a day. This consisted of Staff pursuing Micro around in his aviary, often capturing him and gently tossing it into the pool. This 'treatment' would go on for a minute or two until Micro would try hard to escape. 
It felt horrible each time we had to do this procedure. We always walked away with a 'dirty feeling', as we had just scared, molested and horrified a poor baby pelican. But, we know this counter-intuitive measure was Micro's only chance to to live wild.
After a few weeks of Scary Human, Micro changed - he was quick to evade humans when they entered his enclosure and he stopped making his usual 'Happy To See You' begging calls.  
Behavior evaluations were implemented in succeeding weeks and finally the decision was made to release him along with the rest of the pelicans in his aviary on October 6th, 2010. You cannot believe the relief we felt knowing he'd be given the chance for freedom.
First flight!
BRPE-C-97 was very lucky. He had been in the care of skilled rehabilitators who knew that no matter how cute and precious, a wild animal's only chance for freedom is ONLY if they are kept wild. If they become at all attached to people, their chances of survival can be slim to none. 

Jul 6, 2011

Oiled wildlife search and rescue efforts

Duane Titus, co-director of WildRescue, is part of a team of experts from International Bird Rescue responding to the Yellowstone River Pipeline Spill in Montana. Due to the flooding, it could be weeks before they are able to access certain areas and fully assess the potential damage to wildlife in the area. Read more about it in this article in the Billings Gazette.

More recent news coverage HERE.