Apr 25, 2011

Triplet Fawns Rescued

At 06:26 we received word from Santa Cruz 911 Dispatch, referring us a call about three fawns that had been found in Aptos. A young man, James, had noticed the triplets lying on the fog line of the road. He stopped and helped them get up a bank and into some tall grass, but they were still close to passing traffic. Duane responded and helped them get deeper into the brush - managing a nearby deer trail into a clearing where the mother could be seen through thick tangles of foliage. Here's a link to the video.

Just a reminder to leave healthy baby wild animals in the care of their parents. When in doubt, call wildlife rescue experts, like WildRescue, for advice.

Apr 24, 2011

'Tis the season... 2011...

It's been a crazy couple of weeks for everyone involved in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and it's just the beginning. The calls for help with found wildlife are coming in at a steady rate - and the calls range from "I hope you can help me dispose of these ducklings." to "Should i feed the baby gophers my breast milk?"... the latter, being one of the main reasons i think we don't just throw in the towel... it's because of those people who really do care - who share our sympathy for other living beings - that compassion that does not discriminate between skin or fur or feather... an unconditional kindness and willingness to take the time and make the effort to ease another's suffering. 

I think knowing there are people out there who DO care and who DO appreciate our efforts is what keeps us all going, but the going is really, really, really, really tough.

This is not about me, or WildRescue - it's about all of those amazing people around the country who have dedicated themselves to running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation program. 

Unless you've been exposed to it - unless you've been there, with lives on the line - it might be hard to imagine what it's like... late in the day, phone and Internet at hand, trying to figure out how the heck you're going to get an orphaned baby bird from a downtown shelter before it's indiscriminately killed and you've got no volunteers left to call when another report comes in about a hawk that has been trapped in a warehouse for three days and another call about three orphaned week-old fox kits that have wobbled from under a shed - cold, weak, and starving. Each of these lives stands a chance under the expert care of a wildlife rehabilitator, but getting the animals into the hands of these experts is an issue. There are too few volunteers.

Sadly, in the absence of someone to provide capture, first aid, and transport, countless lives are lost. Finding help after an animal is discovered continues to be a tremendous challenge, perhaps the most significant cause of death among wildlife casualties.

What can you do? Volunteer. Sign up with a wildlife rescue or rehabilitation program in your area and offer to, at the very least, be available for transport.

It's not brain surgery - it can be as simple as picking up a shoebox and driving it 40 miles to someone who can save the tiny life inside. 

If you want more excitement and challenge, there's plenty to be had. You can become trained to answer the hotline and take calls from the public, or be trained to go out and reunite and re-nest healthy babies, or receive training to perform more complex rescues. There is a place for everyone, and there is most certainly the need.

Let me close by saying a heartfelt Thank You to those who recently went out of their way to help a wild animal. To Neil, who walked a mother duck and her 14 ducklings two blocks to safety; to Patrick and to Max, who took the time and effort to see that 4 baby owls were returned home to their parents; to Bobbie, who mustered the courage to release a frightened skunk from a cat trap; to ChadMichael, for taking the time and using his expertise to reconstruct a hummingbird's nest, protecting its two occupants; to Janice, Lexi, and DJ for rescuing 2 ducklings from a storm drain; to the kind woman, who drove 80 miles to deliver the two gopher pups to safety; to Aaron, who gave the baby jay a ride from the shelter; and to Alvenus, who cared enough to seek help for a band of orphaned coyote pups.

  Thank you one and all, your heroism is inspiring. 

Worldwide Fishing Line Cleanup, a success!

Our Worldwide Fishing Line Cleanup Day was quite a success, especially since it was only 3 weeks in the making. Next year we'll start planning well in advance. Please be sure to check out the gallery and map at Picasa to see what was picked up and from where. More pics are being added as they come in. A big THANK YOU! to everyone who participated.

CLICK the image below to link to the gallery:

Worldwide Fishing Line Cleanup 2011

Apr 20, 2011

Baby owls return home

Briefly: the 4 baby barn owls discovered by a passerby yesterday morning, were reunited with their parents this afternoon.

Thanks to Patrick, with Peninsula Humane Society, for stabilizing the birds and making sure they were hydrated and fed over night while we located their home and made arrangements to return them.

Thanks to our volunteers, Max and Brennan, who returned the babies to their home barn today! 

One year has passed...

This is going to be a fairly personal entry... It was a year ago today that the Deepwater Horizon exploratory oil rig erupted in flames. This marked the beginning of what may be one of Man's sharpest, most widespread blow to a particular ecosystem - an interconnected, interdependent web of life that is now fractured and failing.

It will take decades before we fully understand the impact that 200,000,000 gallons of crude oil and 2,000,000 gallons of chemical dispersants truly have on life in the Gulf of Mexico - from the microbes and benthos of the sea floor, to the corals and jellies, the fingerlings and fry, the crustaceans and their larvae, the turtles and dolphins, the skimmers, the rails and the fishermen. All one.

The tally of dead or dying animals that have been collected represents a fraction of the actual number of animals killed. It's being estimated that over 80,000 birds perished. How many more could we have saved had we been better prepared - better equipped - and our expertise better utilized?

What Duane and i experienced in the field, searching for and rescuing birds, was inexcusable. Imagine this - if we were put in charge of crews battling the massive wildfires that are currently sweeping across Texas. That's exactly what it was like! We were being given orders and direction from people who had little to no experience in running oiled wildlife field operations or locating and capturing oiled wildlife - and animals suffered because of this. When we stood up to the nonsense, we were forced to pull out, leaving not one person in the field, in Louisiana, with prior oiled wildlife capture experience or training.

The bird rehabilitation program was better, but still weakened by those in charge - high ranking, yes, but lacking knowledge, experience, and wisdom. 

.....................What more can i say?... the situation was grave - the magnitude of the spill was immense, but manageable. What was worse - what was hardest to deal with and hurt our efforts the most, was the crippling from the inside out. 

Just know this - if we'd had leadership within the Unified Command with the necessary skills and experience, or simply the willingness to listen to those who had such knowledge, things would have been very, very different. 

This must never happen again. We must call for change - for whatever it takes - legislation perhaps - that stipulates the role and qualifications of the Wildlife Branch Director. The person who assumes this position must have a level of training and experience that is suited to the magnitude of the spill.

Apr 15, 2011

Saving Pelican 895 - don't miss seeing this!

On the evening of Wednesday, April 20th, the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, a special film aired on HBO, 'Saving Pelican 895'.

The award winning documentary chronicles the plight of a single pelican - from the time it was rescued, covered in oil, through the wash process and the bird's rehabilitation, to its return to the wild. 

Through this extraordinary film viewers will get a first hand look at what a single oiled bird goes through and get a feel for the intensity of the whole process and how many people were involved, including a few familiar characters.

I'd like to point out that the comment made in the film - about it being best to leave flighted oiled birds to fend for themselves - this gives the wrong impression. The correct philosophy is this: any degree of oil or soiling that compromises a bird's ability to thermoregulate will cause its demise - even if the bird can fly. Oil does not wear off.

Worldwide Fishing Line Cleanup April 23

It all started a couple weeks ago when Deanna asked if we were participating in any Earth Day event. Taking her idea a tad farther, we started asking people if they were interested in cleaning up fishing line on the 23rd, in honor of Earth Day. Anywhere, any time.

We decided to take the event global, since it's a worldwide problem.

The response has been amazing! Check out the map - we've received interest from a rescue center in Australia, and another one in the United Kingdom! We now have divers and kayakers on board as well! Very cool!

View Earth Day Fishing Line Cleanup in a larger map

Here's a really good news piece about our efforts to organize this event. The author does a wonderful job of illustrating the hazards of loose fishing line.

So, for anyone interested in joining in, all you have to do is email us at earthday@wildrescue.org with a pledge to canvas a particular area on the 23rd.

If you don't know of a spot nearby, we can help by sending you some ideas.

If you want to work with others, we'll try to hook you up.

On the 23rd, after collecting line, send us images of what you collected and we'll post them to the map. That's it!

Here's a downloadable flyer to pass around

Apr 11, 2011

Do you remember Pinky?

Lee, The Turkey Whisperer, just sent me this recent picture of Pinky. Handsome!!! 

If you'll recall, Pinky had been shot with a hunting arrow near Castro Valley. The arrow went straight through. He limped, but was flighted, so no organization - no agency would help catch him. Then finally - weeks later, we got word of this bird's predicament. 

It took time, and many trips to Castro Valley, but we captured him and took him to International Bird Rescue for treatment. Here's some of the news coverage.

Pinky's success story is a valuable lesson on many levels. First of all, flighted birds CAN be caught - you just have to have the patience and skill. His recovery also illustrates how wild animals with serious injuries can and do recover under the expert care of a wildlife rehabilitator. 

Pinky's story is also an excellent example of an animal that was given the chance to live wild and free though he limped. You see, the arrow had fractured his femur - it had also acted as a splint, allowing the bones to fuse back together during those weeks before he was captured. Many one-legged birds (and some mammals) can survive in the wild despite their handicap. Within reason, we believe in allowing animals the opportunity to make it - to at least try. However, many are euthanized rather than being given that second chance.

Apr 10, 2011

Barn owl box raising X 2

Today we installed two barn owl boxes on private residences in Morgan Hill and Gilroy! Barn owls are an excellent means of controlling rodent populations - from gophers to moles to mice and voles, they will keep them in check! See our barn owl box page for more on having one placed on your property.

Our boxes are designed after the Carolina Raptor Center's. Plenty of room for a large brood and the hole is high, ensuring owlets are old enough - close to flying, before they can reach the exit.

Below, Duane and Deanna dig the last little bit that the auger couldn't get.

Highlights from the week...

We received a call earlier in the week from a woman who had found an opossum sleeping in her storage shed, curled up in on a blanket in a whicker basket.
Since that's really not too unusual, seeing that she stores the cat food there and the door is left open... We gave her some ideas on using natural, nontoxic repellant oils to try and get the creature to vacate.
A couple days went by and the opossum was still there. What was curious - it was in the basket at 5:00 a.m., 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. when it maybe should have been out foraging.
We purposefully scheduled the call later in the day - close to evening so if the animal appeared well, it would have at least gotten a good day's sleep before we set it on its way.
When we arrived, sure enough, the opossum, a female, was curled up in the basket. We expected a little more of a fight when she was collected and brought out to be examined. She had the sniffles and something going with her left eye... enough that we felt she should be admitted for a thorough exam. She was transported to Native Animal Rescue, Santa Cruz, CA.
Our next adventure was the release of a skunk that had been inadvertently trapped. We released it right where it was - at home. Thankfully, relocation of wildlife is prohibited in California. Not only is relocation extremely cruel - certainly not the answer to resolving conflicts with wildlife, but it can spread disease among wild populations.

Apr 8, 2011

Join us Saturday, April 23...

wherever, whenever...

Pick a spot!

1. Email us your name and the location.

If you want company, we'll try to hook you up with others in the area.

2. Email pictures of what you collected.

View Earth Day Fishing Line Cleanup in a larger map

Make a difference...

...carelessly discarded fishing line kills!

Apr 5, 2011

Location, location, location...

Who knew roadrunners construct such beautiful nests? ...but the location!

This is a newly built roadrunner nest with the first of likely 3 or 4 eggs. Unfortunately, it's in a milk crate on a loading dock at a desert establishment that's expecting an increase in human activity in the coming days. So, they were referred to WildRescue for advice.

All migratory birds (pretty much every wild bird you'll encounter) are protected by federally law. It is illegal for anyone to pursue, capture, posses, disturb, or harm wild birds or their nests without permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Apr 4, 2011


After hearing the news (a few nights ago) about 5 cats showing up dead, within a week, in Spreckels, CA - bleeding from the mouth... I knew there was WAY more to this story than this quote from a local humane society:
"It's very possible someone is trying to get rid of a pest in their area," "They aren't following the proper rules and regulations in California when they are puting poison on their property."
Hold on a minute! 

The bigger story is this: that people ARE applying the rodent poison as instructed and it's getting into the food chain and killing wild animals and people's pets!

Rat and mouse bait - squirrel bait - they are ALL anticoagulants - they are designed to cause the animal to bleed out - hemorrhage. These NEW (1970s) rodenticides - 'rodent poisons' - are intended to kill the rodents quickly.


Research has shown that poisoned rodents fall ill and stagger out of their burrows and into open fields where they are more easily found and eaten by predators - hawks, owls, eagles, herons, fox, bobcat, coyote, cougar... and domestic cats and dogs.

Eating a single poison-laden mouse might not be enough to kill an owl or a cat right away, but these poisons last for weeks in an animal's body, accumulating. Because of this, predators reach lethal levels of anticoagulants after repeated doses - two, three, four mice.

Even if the poisons in their systems remain at what they call sublethal levels, the chemicals make them ill over time - compromising their immune system, making them vulnerable to disease and infection.

Bobcats and coyotes regularly present with horrible mange that researchers have linked to their exposure to rodenticides.

Recent studies that have shown 80-84% of the wild animals sampled, tested positive for sublethal levels of rodent poison - to which the EPA was quoted saying: 
"The EPA suspects that the results are representative of nontarget wildlife exposures nationwide."
WHAT!!!!! It's still legal and no one's really talking about it.

We did - today - we took a news crew to look at the application of rodenticide in and around the Central Valley.

It's not just the agricultural fields though. These poison bait stations can be found all over - around restaurants, hotels, schools, community centers, and in homes.

The United Kingdom found a solution that kills the rodents but doesn't hurt any other animal - cellulose.

EradiBait has been around fro quite some time. Why don't we have this in the U.S.?

The cost of registering a  P E S T I C I D E  in the US is apparently high and VERY time consuming. I spoke with the fellow who was, at least a few years ago, trying to make this happen... 

WE NEED THIS NOW - NO MORE WAITING  - It's plant fiber, for Dog's sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Apr 2, 2011

Snakes are out!

We JUST received a page from a young man in Santa Cruz who thought he might have had a rattlesnake sunning on his front porch earlier in the day. We had him send the pictures he took. 

Check it out - a beautiful little gopher snake! See the shape of the head - like a sausage? And, the round pupils? And, the tail - it comes to a point?

Baby rattlesnakes have a button that, i think, resembles a translucent kernel of corn.

Time for the Badger Song!!!!

And you thought your garbage smelled....

Yesterday we received a call from an Aptos resident. He had a skunk trapped in his trash can! Yikes!... Volunteer, Deanna, to the rescue!

Thankfully, the big plastic trash can was on the shaded side of the house, otherwise the poor skunk would have surely overheated - it had been stuck in the can since at least 8 hours. 

Deanna arrived soon after we received the call. With a large towel in reach, she gently tipped the can, propped open the lid and stepped back - waiting quietly for the animal to appear............Nothing. 

Deanna thought to roll the can across the quiet drive to the edge of the forest, away from the home. She again tipped the can gently, this time spilling its contents. There, underneath a pile of kitchen waste was the glistening black and white coat of a striped skunk. It was breathing, but didn't move. Using a wooden stick, Deanna uncovered it to find that its head was stuck in a Yoplait yogurt container! 

It is NOT UNCOMMON to find a wild animal with its head stuck in vessel like this - especially a container with a tapered opening.

Deanna immediately grabbed a pair of heavy leather gloves and a big blanket. She draped the blanket over the skunk's entire body, leaving only its head exposed. In one quick move she held it down, yanked off the plastic cup and swiftly stepped back. Phew!

There was a moment of direct eye contact, a breath of relief from both sides, and then the lovely animal scampered into the woods of its sea cliff home. Deanna was left the job of picking up the waste. Not so bad when it meant she'd saved the life of a wonderful, and very beneficial wild creature.

Skunks eat mice, rats, moles, slugs, grubs and other garden 'pests', in addition to their affinity for low-fat strawberry banana yogurt.

Skunk photo from HERE.