Oct 27, 2012

Two Bucks

Corralitos, CA - This morning, WildRescue received a call about two entangled bucks - held together at the antlers by heavy-gauge telephone line.

By the time we arrived, one of the bucks was dead. The other was in pretty good shape, though, considering. He still had a lot of fight left in him, which was a good sign. His chances of surviving were pretty good if we could release him quickly.

As discussed in a previous post (Stuck Buck), wild animals, especially prey species, are susceptible to capture myopathy, where exertion to escape can kill them - instantly, or even weeks later.

Duane secured the telephone line to our rescue truck's winch and pulled the bucks up the hillside to a small oak tree. We moved in cautiously, using plywood shields (seal boards) to protect us from the deer as it lashed out. 

Using hardened wire cutters, Duane cut away at the thick messengered telephone line, working it off the buck's antlers.

Finally, he was free.

After speaking with neighbors, we found out that the abandoned telephone had come down with an old tree that fell a few weeks ago. Please check your yard for anything deer or other animals might get tangled in, and remember to be extra cautious on roads this time of year as autumn is mating season for our coastal mule deer.

We'd like to thank the Department of Fish and Game and their response to the call, and a 
huge THANK YOU! to the Lucido Family for donating their truck to us earlier this year. The truck's winch was invaluable!

Please help us continue our work with a donation of any size, HERE. Thank you!

Oct 26, 2012

History of Wildlife Rehabilitation Part I

Rachel Carson with pet cat, Moppet. 
In 1936, Rachel Louise Carson, became the second woman to fill a full-time position with the Bureau of Fisheries (now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). She became chief editor of publications in 1949, but left the agency in 1952 to focus on writing. In 1962, Silent Sprint was published. This book was a milestone for the environmental movement, generating widespread concerns over pesticide use and pollution, and inspiring grassroots activism.

By the late 60s and early 70s, the Save the Whales campaign was gaining momentum and the concept of rehabilitating wildlife began taking shape. 

According to Holcomb, a pioneer in the field, "There was a real shift in consciousness, and people started asking, 'Okay, we want whales to be free, well then why not these other species?', so, we started rethinking our methods of dealing with injured wildlife, but," he recalled "there were two major incidents that really brought us all together."

On January 28,1969, a Union Oil drilling platform located six miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, suffered a blow-out. An estimated 4 million gallons of crude oil surfaced, causing an 800-square mile slick.

With 35 miles of coastline marred and thousands of birds in peril, the community came together in force. Despite heroic efforts by self-trained volunteers, few oiled birds survived.

As President Nixon noted, the incident "touched the conscience of the American people" and fueled the environmental movement.

Months after the spill, at a United Nations conference in San Francisco, John McConnell introduced the idea of Earth Day, suggesting the vernal equinox for its global spiritual significance. "The first day of Spring, a day that historically has been celebrated by people of every creed and culture - is a day worthy of being a holiday of all of Earth's people."

McConnell also designed the Earth Flag.

March 21, 1970, marked the first official Earth Day, even though a month later, Senator Gaylord Nelson proclaimed April 22, as "Earth Day". Over the years, Senator Nelson's date has seemingly championed McConnell's, though the true Earth Day is always celebrated on the vernal equinox with the ringing of the Peace Bell at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

Over 20 million Americans participated in first Earth Day rallies across the United States. People were engaged and ready to take action for a cause...

Earth Day 1970
New York City: Union Square. Earth Day 1970
In Walnut Creek, California, a relatively small natural history center, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, was known for taking in injured wildlife - animals that were found by the public. Due to an increased need, in 1970, under the direction of curator Gary Bogue, the museum started one of the first formal rehabilitation center in the United States. Months later it would play a key role in helping massive numbers of oil-soaked birds.

On January 18, 1971, two Standard Oil tankers collided under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, releasing 840,000 gallons of oil into the bay. Once again, citizens joined together in record numbers to help save their wildlife. Click HERE to read a firsthand account from one of the responders.

Lindsay Wildlife Museum was one of the dozen or so emergency bird centers set up throughout the Bay Area - another one was called the Richmond Bird Care Center. Alice Berkner, founder of International Bird Rescue (IBR) recalls the events leading up to the formation of her nonprofit in April 1971, HERE.

Poster made for International Bird Rescue Research Center in 1971.

Also in April 1971, the famous Keep America Beautiful PSA, People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It, aired for the first time.

The 1970s were very powerful times. People were impassioned, they felt empowered, and they took action - making things happen...

Oct 23, 2012

Hide and Seek

Watsonville, CA - Last week, a female opossum was found sleeping in a corner behind some plants, just outside a variety store. Before rescuers could arrive to assess the animal, it was assaulted with a boot and ran into the shop.

Inside the store, the opossum found many good places to hide and sleep during the day, until one day... when 
an employee was moving plastic crates filled with merchandise, and her fingers felt hair inside the box. Startled, she ran to the front of the store to get help. 

WildRescue's Duane and Rebecca responded, but could not locate the opossum. The next day, they returned with their tracking expert, Cooper.

Within 3 minutes, Cooper pinpointed the marsupial's location. It was in between a stack of heavy windows. It took some time, but the team finally caught up with her.

Once captured, the team did a brief exam to make sure she was okay to set free. They quickly noticed  the blue crumbles between her teeth. She had been eating rat poison!

Management had recently placed bait blocks in the warehouse, thinking they had rats.

The blocks have since been removed.

The opossum was transported just a few miles away to Monique, with Native Animal Rescue, where she was treated with Vitamin K to counter the anticoagulant rodenticide.

UPDATE 10-26-12: The opossum is doing very well and should be ready to release any day.

Oct 22, 2012

Halloween: Scary for Wildlife

Just a reminder about holiday decorations. Woven or stringy material can be dangerous to wildlife. This is a picture of a Western screech owl caught in fake spider web.

Western Screech owl caught in fake spider web. Photo by Marin Humane Society / Dave Stapp

Oct 17, 2012

Long Lived the King

Drake king eider. Photo Credit Arthur Morris Birds As Art
In February 1996, a 300-foot long Japanese freighter collided with another ship off St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. The collision resulted in a significant spill of bunker fuel that killed close to 1,000 birds.

One of the lucky survivors was a male king eider - Federal Band Number 
1347-54921. He was one of 148 king eiders rescued and rehabilitated by International Bird Rescue (IBR) during the logistically complex event.

Every oil spill incident presents unique challenges. During the Pribilof Islands Spill, rescuers had to contend with freezing temperatures, snow and ice, and the 800 miles that separated
 the remote island from the rehabilitation center in Anchorage.

Oiled drake king eider. Credit: Paul Flint, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Another major challenge unique to this event was the rehabilitation of the heavy-bodied and heavily insulated eiders. International Bird Rescue's Jay Holcomb recalls how, after being cleaned of the oil, the eiders had to be kept in pools of ice water - "so cold you couldn't hold your hand in it for long," and even then they would pant.

Overall, the sea ducks adapted very well to captive life, according to Holcomb, and went through the rehabilitation process surprisingly quickly. Nearly 80% of the oiled eiders survived. On March 14, 1996, a group of 24 eiders was transported back to St. Paul Island and released.

Trevor Peterson with the banded eider. 
Just recently, IBR found out that one of those eiders was recovered earlier this year - Band Number 1347-54921

On January 15th, just after first light, one of the kings was taken by a hunter. Estimated to be 17 years old, the bird was near the end of its lifespan. He had lived a long life, wild and free, thanks to the heroic measures taken to save it in 1996.

Should he have been euthanized, instead?

Every once in a while, the rehabilitation of oiled wildlife is criticized, claiming it more humane to euthanize the animals than put them through the cleaning process. What critics often fail to see is that they share a conviction with those they denounce - to do no harm - unaware of the processes in place that assure balance between science and compassion, and that many, many animals are euthanized because carers know the animal would suffer unfairly.

For wild bird rehabilitators, marking their patients with numbered leg-bands upon release helps them track their success.

"One of the best indications that our methods work," says Holcomb, "is when we get reports of rehabilitated animals thriving years after being released. This king eider is an example of that. But," he cautions, "not enough rehabilitators conduct post release studies."

Professional rehabilitation has come long way in the last 40 years. Stay tuned for next week's Wild Byte for a look at the history of wildlife rehabilitation in the U.S.

Oct 15, 2012

Freedom at last...

Today, three young coyotes, a three-pack, were released onto a large parcel of private land in Corralitos today, after nearly 4 months of foster care at Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

One of the pups was a youngster we rescued after it was hit by a car on Green Valley Road, less than three miles away. Check out the original post, HERE.

Here's the video of their release.


Please consider donating toward their Predatory Mammal Program, HERE.

Oct 14, 2012

Swift Response

Vaux's Swifts are small insectivorous birds that spend much of their time on the wing. In fall, they gather in large groups as they journey south from their Pacific Northwest breeding grounds to Mexico and Central America, making a return trip in spring.

As the birds traverse what is now mostly an urban landscape, instead of roosting at night in tree hollows, they have taken to sheltering in man-made structures, like chimneys and smokestacks.

At dusk, thousands can be seen whirling and funneling into a chosen location. A spectacular sight to see. Check out this great video.

Much to the dismay of onlookers, it's not uncommon to see crows, ravens and other predatory birds plucking an occasional meal from the whirling mass - like a grizzly bear snatching salmon from a waterfall.As they travel through Southern California, over the last few years, the swifts have roosted in the brick chimney of the 86-year old Chester Williams Building at Broadway and Fifth in downtown Los Angeles.

Unfortunatley, on October 12th workers placed a rain guard on the chimney, preventing the birds from entering that evening. Many of the birds found shelter in a nearby chimney, but another lot of them ran into a bit of trouble.

That same night, an officer with the Pasadena Humane Society responded to a call about a mass of birds inside a chimney in Arcadia. When he arrived, he found nearly 200 swifts clinging to the sides of a residential fireplace. Thinking they were non-native starlings, he collected them in boxes and returned them to the station to be dealt with in the morning.

Ashley Herman, Wildlife Management Specialist with the Pasadena Humane Society quickly identified them as swifts and immediately released them back where they were found. 

Photo by Mike Danzenbaker avesphoto.com

Thanks to Jeff Chapman, Clare Marter Kenyon, Laura Garrett, Martha Benedict, Greg Martin, Councilmember Jose Huizar and Jessica Wethington McLean for their quick action to get the cap removed.

The following night, the swifts returned and were observed using both chimneys, but the fate of their roost remains uncertain.

Hopefully, the swifts will be guaranteed a forever-stopover in downtown Los Angeles.

More on these wonderful creatures at Vaux's Happening

Oct 13, 2012

That time of the year

Fall and winter months are the safest for tree trimming, brush clearing, and home repairs with the least amount of impact on neighboring wildlife.

This is the time of year to inspect the perimeter of your home for signs of uninvited 'house guests'.

Look for broken vents, and holes that lead into attic areas or under a home's foundation. Look for dirty paw prints, or 'grease marks' indicating 'high-traffic'. Check for bat droppings on siding, or on the ground below overhangs. Bat feces resemble mouse droppings, but easily crumble to powder.

Even though it's not breeding season for animals like raccoons, you still want to take precautions so you don't entomb an animal inside your home!

Here's a trick. If you find a broken vent, don't just seal it. First, stuff the hole with wadded up newspaper - solid enough that it won't fall out, but loose enough an animal can easily dislodge it.

Scent the outside portion with citronella or peppermint oil.

The next morning, if you find the newspaper disturbed, pack it in again. Repeat the process until the newspaper remains in place, preferably for two nights in a row.

Then it's a good bet that whatever was in there is out, and the vent can be repaired

If you'd like a wildlife professional to perform an inspection, or if you'd like their help in devising the safest, most humane, and non-lethal method of evicting wildlife, or discouraging their residency, please contact one of the following businesses.

A Wildlife Exclusion Service (Sonoma) 707-992-0276
Humane Pest Control (Monterey/San Jose) 855-5-HUMANE
WildCare Solutions (San Francisco) 415-456-7283
San Diego Wildlife Removal (San Diego) 619-446-7438




SCRAM 614-763-0696

The Skunk Whisperer 918-261-4444

911-WILDLIFE 713-287-1911


Oct 9, 2012

Baby Elephant Rescue

Nairobi, Kenya - Yesterday, experts from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, came to the aid of an eight-month old calf that was trapped in a manmade well. These pits are dug by the Maasai to water their cattle.

In the video below, behavioral ecologist Vicki Fishlock uses her Land Rover to drive off the calf's mother, Zombe, so rescuers could reach the baby safely. The video ends with the heartwarming reunion of mother and calf.

The following day, another baby elephant was found in the same pit. Unfortunately, before rescuers arrived its family was driven off by Maasai herdsmen. The orphan was transported to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Orphan's Project.

When you have time, check out the orphans' profiles, HERE. Warning: you might not be able to stop clicking More for details of their individual rescues and to watch incredible videos like this one, HERE. Please consider supporting their good work by fostering an orphan, HERE.

Oct 8, 2012

Stuck buck

Day before yesterday, we were forwarded an emergency call about a large deer entangled in netting - soccer netting. The animal had been stuck for a few hours, maybe longer.

In California, deer are classified as big game mammals and handling them is strictly prohibited under Title 14 without authorization by the Department of Fish and Game(Wildlife), and rightly so. Like all game species, they are extremely difficult and dangerous to handle. Dangerous to themselves as well as handlers.

We dispatched a team to, first and foremost, keep people away from the animal. 
En route, our team notified the Department and received authorization to initiate a rescue if they felt it was safe to do so.

Once on scene, the team found a good sized buck with its antlers horribly tangled in netting. It had backed away from the soccer field and into some brambles.

The team cleared the area, making room to work safely.

Using a long-handled hook, Duane tested the animal's responsiveness and to see if there was any chance of slipping the material from the buck's antlers but netting was wound tight around its rack. The team was able to secure the deer, somewhat, but they needed help.

They called local game wardens to assist. Two wardens arrived within minutes and helped subdue the frightened animal. During the process, the deer's eyes were covered to reduce visual stressors, and its body was sprayed down to help prevent capture myopathy.

One of the greatest risk to the wild animals we try to help, is their fright. Their innate fear of us can kill them. Especially prey species.

Capture myopathy, also known and exertional myopathy, is a condition induced by extreme fear, anxiety, or exertion.

When an animal is placed in what it perceives to be a life and death situation, where it must flee of fight for its life - a series of chemical changes occur, starting with the release of adrenaline into the bloodstream. The animal's heart rate increases, breathing accelerates, and blood is diverted to the large muscles to help the animal escape danger.

In short bursts, these changes in an animal's metabolism can be beneficial to its survival, but extreme and prolonged exertion can be fatal.

Simply put, while under pursuit, restraint, or s
evere stress, if an animal's body can't supply enough oxygen to its muscles, the muscles start to die.

Onset of capture myopathy can be sudden, within minutes, or over days, even weeks after an event, and there is no cure. If the animal survives, residual signs may last months. With this in mind, 
even though the buck was freed and it eventually made its way to the woods, its survival is questionable.

Juvenile mule deer in Carmel Valley, CA.
Today, we received another call about an entangled buck. This one was caught on a hammock in the Bonny Doon area. Unfortunately rescuers arrived too late. The buck died as a result of fighting so long and so hard to get free.

For coastal populations of deer in California, October is typically the beginning of their rut, or breeding season. This could explain the recent hammock incident. Perhaps the buck tried rubbing his antlers on the hammock, or maybe it was pursuing a  doe and happened through the resident's backyard when it got hung up on the material.

As for the buck on the soccer field - there had been a huge fireworks display the night before at Seacliff State Beach, about half a mile from the field. The explosions could certainly have been a factor.

In conclusion, these two bucks were harmed by manmade objects. For the safety of wildlife around your homes, please take a moment to check your yard for things that animals might get tangled up in, like netting, webbed material, string or rope.


Oct 4, 2012

Support BABS

Introducing the Bay Area Bobcat Study (BABS) - a project of the Felidae Conservation Fund - launching this Winter! BABS will track how bobcats move through the area's fragmented landscape, locating pathways and identifying obstacles with the hope of improving connectivity for a healthier population. 

Support the project HERE - be sure to note it's for BABS!

Oct 1, 2012

Beauty. Magnificence. Inspiration.

We were forwarded this link of a video created by Trish Carneyand wanted to share it - it's so beautifully done. Enjoy.