Mar 30, 2013

Wild Brew, for you!

Introducing our own label of dark roast coffee - Wild Brew! A blend of sustainably produced beans, dark roasted to perfection and ground for paper filter.

Proceeds from each sale goes to support Wildlife Emergency Services. Order HERE.

Mar 28, 2013

Puma 22 - one year later

A year ago today, National Park Service biologists from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) humanely trapped and collared a mountain in Griffith Park.

Wildlife cameras had recorded images of the lion weeks earlier. Those pictures were the first known images documenting lion activity in the Santa Monica eco-region east of Cahuenga Pass.

The healthy male lion was estimated to be 3 years old and weighed 120 pounds. He was given the name P22 (Puma 22).

Since the patch of wilderness near downtown Los Angeles is too small to support a resident mountain lion population, scientists knew the big cat must have come from an adjacent wilderness area - but which one?

Results from DNA testing confirmed P22 was from the Santa Monica Mountains. That meant he had to cross two major freeways to reach Griffith Park.

P22 had to cross 2 major freeways to reach Griffith Park.
On March 20th, 2013, P22 was spotted again and captured on video camera. Check out the images of P22, below, recorded by one of the Griffith Park trail cameras.

For more on mountain lions, and extensive information on the lions of the Santa Monicas, visit Urban Carnivores site, HERE

For more on the forensics involved in the mountain lion studies, click HERE.

Want more on mountain lions?

Mar 27, 2013

Catch and release

By Deanna Barth

I usually do my weekly "rounds" in Monterey, where I find enough injured birds to keep me occupied, but in the last couple of weeks I've been checking out the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

Last Friday, I saw a number of gulls there, suffering from old injuries. There were a couple missing one foot, and one that had barely a stump.

Another, had suffered a leg injury that left its leg frozen and pointing backwards. In flight, the leg sticks straight 

In spite of their handicaps, the gulls seemed to be getting along just fine, so there was no reason to capture them and take them in for rehabilitation, especially since state and federal guidelines for rehabilitators require them to euthanize most animals with missing appendages. 

When I returned to the Santa Cruz Pier on Monday, to my horror, the bird with the stiff leg had a fishhook in its mouth with long line dangling down.

It spent most of its time resting on a dumpster either wiping its face on the lid or pawing at it with its foot. It was in obvious discomfort.

I tried for several hours to lure it close, but to no avail. It showed little interest in feeding, and remained at a safe distance on the roof of a car!

I was determined to help this bird. In preparation for its capture, I contacted my rescue supervisors to discuss the possibility of removing the hook and releasing the gull on site rather than putting it through the stress of transport to a wildlife hospital.

They said, so long as the wound is minor, I could remove the hook and release.

I returned to the pier on Wednesday
. Shortly after I arrived, I found the gull - easy to spot from a distance with that leg pointing out. It was perched on “its” dumpster again, and it had drawn the attention of a small crowd of concerned people.

The bird appeared skittish. Someone had probably tried to capture it.

I propped up my long-handled net against the dumpster and tried baiting the bird close. An hour passed. I had lured in about 20 gulls, but not the one I wanted.

I decided to try another tactic. I laid my net down flat in the parking lot, made a pile of crumbles on either side of it and walked away. I sat at the back of my vehicle for another hour, waiting for all the other birds to get their fill and move on. Once they did, the injured gull approached alone.

I casually walked over to the end of my net, and as as the bird was eating, I sat down quietly.
It watched me intently for a few minutes, and then went back to eating.

These are the most intense seconds of a rescue - waiting for that split-second opportunity. As soon as the gull put its head back down, I flipped the net and "bagged" my bird. I was thrilled!

After carefully removing him from the net, I carried the frightened bird to the back of my vehicle where I could better evaluate its hook injury.

It appeared fairly minor - the hook was embedded on the outer part of the bill. I used small clippers to cut the barb and tried to gently push the hook through, but the end of the hook was tiny and barely visible. I needed an even smaller tool, and could have used an extra hand.

Out of the crowd of concerned bystanders, a man approached - his name was Tim. 
He quickly got a smaller pair of pliers from his vehicle and was able to remove the remainder of the hook as I held the bird. Tim's help was invaluable.

The wound bled a little after the hook was removed. Having worked in a veterinary hospital for many years, I felt comfortable in my ability to clean the area and apply pressure with sterile gauze to stop the bleeding.

After a couple of minutes and with no other injuries found, I released the gull on the spot.

This rescue was a unique circumstance for which I am so grateful. To have the authorization to administer first-aid in the field was such a rewarding experience.

Mar 22, 2013

Friday Rounds March 22nd

One of our lead responders, Deanna Barth, knows that only through practice will she hone her skills at capturing injured wildlife, especially flighted birds. So, most every Friday after work, she does her "rounds", scouring local hot spots for injured seabirds.

More than a month ago, during a visit to the Monterey Municipal Wharf, she encountered a gull with line hanging from under one wing. We covered it in a blog post, HERE.

On her many visits to the wharf, Deanna tried all the tricks in the book to get the bird to come close enough where she could net it, but the bird was much too wary.

Today, however, Deanna was triumphant!

Here's her story:

As soon as I neared the end of the pier, I spotted the bird.  It was standing in front of a bench where a man and his wife were eating fish and chips. It looked as if the gull was hoping they would share.

Several people were standing nearby, pointing at the line dangling from the bird's left wing.

I slowly approached the seated couple, introduced myself and and my intentions, and asked if they wouldn't mind helping.

As I instructed, the woman began tossing pieces of her lunch onto the ground, while I quietly slid my net against the bench. It wasn't but a minute before the bird went for the bait - and I caught it.

There was a round of applause from the crowd, and the gentleman on the bench said,  "Well, I guess that bird will never trust an English tourist again!"

The gull was taken to the SPCA of Monterey County Wildlife Center where the hook was removed. The gull was freed the following day.

Way to go Deanna - your perseverance paid off!

Mar 20, 2013


On March 11th, WES received a call about a hawk caught on razor-wire fencing at Couch Distributing in Watsonville, CA. We were told it was snagged by a blue chord attached to leather jesses on its legs. This was obviously a bird that someone had tethered - perhaps a falconer's bird.

Fearing the hawk would suffer severe injuries from the barbs, Fleet Manager Jim Griffin, braved the razor-wire, and freed the bird before we arrived. It flew off with its tethers still attached.

On March 18th, one week later, WES received a call reporting a hawk caught on a utility pole, about a mile from the distribution center. The reporting party, Rosendo, described it being caught by a blue chord that was tangled on an antenna about 30' up the pole.

WES' Rebecca Dmytryk alerted PG&E of the emergency before responding on scene.

It wasn't long before Electrical Troubleman with PG&E, Bill Kelly, arrived with a bucket truck, and helped Dmytryk reach the bird. Check out the video below.

Once the hungry bird was secured in a large holding cage at WES headquarters and given a meal, Dmytryk made some calls to try and track down the bird's handler. Through various channels, the falconer was tracked, and reunited with his bird the next day.

Many, many thanks to Rosendo for alerting WES of the bird in distress and for filming the rescue (Great job!), and to Bill Kelly with PG&E who made it possible to rescue the bird!

WES is a 100% volunteer-run charity, dependent on donations to run its 24/7 emergency response operations. Go HERE to make a contribution, or HERE to sponsor the team for a day, a week, or longer! Thank you!

Mar 15, 2013

Opossum vs. Dogs

Today, WES was called out to rescue and opossum from a backyard in Watsonville, CA. According to the family reporting the animal, their dogs had been barking during the night and into the morning hours. Once it was light out, they saw they had an opossum in the yard.

At first, the opossum appeared to be alright, but on closer inspection, responders found blood on its fur - it had been attacked by the family's dogs. Check out the rescue video:

The mother opossum, her pouch full of babies, was taken to a nearby wildlife hospital for treatment. 

Mar 12, 2013

Bag O'Possum

Yesterday, WES was contacted about a mother opossum that was found inside a plastic shopping bag on a resident's patio at a senior-living community in Hollister, CA.

According to the resident, the opossum had been coming around frequently - probably attracted by the bowl of cat food on the patio.

It seems as though the opossum decided to curl up and sleep the day inside the pouch-like bag.

Check out the video, below.

The opossum is the only marsupial found in the United States. These primitive creatures have a tendency to wander, using den sites for a few days to several weeks, depending on the abundancy of food nearby.

Being transients, an adult opossums can cover hundreds of miles during 
its short lifetime of about 2 to 3 years.

For more on this incredible animal, check out The Opossum: It's Amazing Story, HERE.

Mar 9, 2013

Electrocuted bobcat

Earlier this week we were contacted about an injured bobcat, seen on a path in the foothills above Coyote Creek in Santa Clara County. It was reportedly dragging a rear leg.

The week before, on March 1st, the area experienced a brownout. PG&E responded, and found the body of an adult bobcat, collapsed and hanging on the power pole where it had been electrocuted. Its body was removed and left at the base of the pole.

The much smaller, injured bobcat was sighted the next morning. Residents speculate it's the kitten of the one that was killed.

A few days later, 
after attempts to trap the small cat failed, WES was called for assistance.

Duane and Rebecca responded on scene. They were shown where the injured bobcat was seen fairly regularly - near the body of the dead adult.

The carcass had been moved though - dragged under a bush, and most of the flesh was gone. Perhaps the injured bobcat had survived a week by scavenging.
The duo split up to look for the cat. A rafter of turkeys continued their marched through the woodland as the two searched both sides of the creek.

All of a sudden, Duane called out - he spotted it. It was a small cat, but clearly an adult, not a kitten. There was blood around its mouth and hindquarters, but it seemed able to put weight on all four legs. After seeing Duane, it slunk back into the brush.

The cat was definitely injured and in need of medical attention, but too mobile to chase down. The team decided to set a large cage-trap. The trap will only be set during daylight hours, and checked every two hours.

Stay tuned.

Mar 3, 2013

Foul play?

 By Rebecca Dmytryk

This afternoon, WES received a call from a person at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz, reporting a gull, tangled in some sort of white string-like material, like balloon ribbon.

I arrived just before sunset. A large group of gulls, mallards and coots was gathered at the feet of some people who were feeding them. As I scanned the gulls, I asked the family if they'd seen the one entangled in string. They had not.

A lot of times, injured birds will stay on the outskirts of activity, avoiding confrontation by other birds. If their injuries are severe, they'll often pick a safe, isolated spot to rest.

As I walked the perimeter of the little pond, I scanned the birds out in the middle of the water. There was a gull that looked a bit ragged and wet (maybe we'll try for him tomorrow), but not entangled. Then, as I rounded the curve - there it was.

Looking horribly distressed, an adult Western gull stood quietly at the edge of the pond. You could see the curling ribbon around its neck, and a large, baseball-size bulge in its throat - perhaps food it could not swallow.

Was there a hook involved? Did someone intentionally tie ribbon around its neck? Or, did the bird just happen to get tangled up in discarded ribbon from a balloon?

Most curling ribbons are made of polypropylene (PP), a flexible yet rugged plastic compound used to make anything from plastic bins to thermal underwear. This stuff wasn't going to breakdown and fall off before killing the bird. The gull needed help, and fast.

I grabbed 'bait' and a long-handled net from my truck, assembled a cardboard carrier, then 
recruited the bird-feeding family to help out.

Using a large bush as cover, I set my net without the bird seeing me. Next, I needed to coax the bird to move into range, using food to draw it close.

At first, the gull showed little interest in Fritos (my bait of choice), but after a few dramatized tosses of Scoops high into the air, attracting nearly every bird in the pond, the gull finally moved off the ledge and toward me.

Without pause, I dumped an irresistible amount of chips right in front of the hoop. In no time, the gull was head-down and focused on consuming the greasy meal. That's when I made my move and bagged it in the soft netting.

The bird was thin and weak. As frightened as it was, it could barely put up a fight. It must have been this way for many days, if not a week or longer.

By now, a crowd of spectators had gathered. One of the bystanders helped me cut some of the material - just enough to relieve pressure on the bird's neck and mouth.

Check out the video below:

With the gull safely stowed inside a cardboard carrier, I headed for Native Animal Rescue (NAR) on 17th Ave in Santa Cruz.

There, the bird received immediate attention by hospital staff. They found the line coming out of the gull's mouth was twisted tight around its tongue. Once the line was cut, they removed the putrid mass of food from its throat. The bird was hydrated and given the night to rest.

Hopefully, the bird can recover. We will post updates as we receive word.

In the meantime, if you'd like to support NAR with a donation, go HERE. If you'd like to support our emergency response team - help pay for gas and rescue supplies, go HERE. It's greatly appreciated.

The knot in the curling ribbon found around the gull's neck.
Postscript: I can't get passed feeling this was an intentional act of cruelty. Sure, animals get tangled in manmade debris all the time, so, yes, it's totally plausible, but I can't shake it. Maybe it's my dismal outlook on our society, having seen so many awful things that people do to animals...

In case this was intentional, if someone knows who did it, please come forward and report what you know to local authorities or through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife CalTip line 1-800-DFG-CALTIP (800-334-2258).

Mar 1, 2013

Entrapped screech owl

By Deanna Barth

Copyright Ric McArthur
This afternoon WES was referred a call about an owl trapped in a chimney at a home in San Jose. According to the RP, the owl had actually fluttered to the bottom and they could see it through the glass fireplace door.

I was nearby, planning to attend the Wildlife Center's release of a great horned owl that WES helped rescue in December, so I took the call.

Upon arrival, I could see that the homeowner had done an excellent job in taking direction from us over the phone. She'd draped a large sheet across the fireplace, covered the windows and doors, and closed the family pets in another room.

I grabbed a little flashlight, slipped under the sheet and slowly poked my head inside the fireplace. There, perched on the flue, was a western screech owl, surprisingly, just inches away and looking right at me.

I put on my gloves, gathered my small net and tucked the sheet in behind me, in case the owl tried to get by me. I then
 nudged the fireplace screen just enough so I could slip my net to the right side and then above the owl to block it from flying up. With the net in my right hand, flashlight between my teeth, I used my left hand to quickly grab the owl.

I took a minute to look the owl over for injuries, which the owl didn't care for of course. It protested with clicks of its beak
He looked good, and was alert. It was nearing sundown, so I decided to release it right then.

The homeowner made an excellent observation and directed me to the yard of the empty house next door. It was very quiet and secluded with an array of trees and shrubs.  

With the owl cupped between my hands, I slowly opened my grip and the owl just sat there.  For a second I considered not releasing it, but then it took off and flew over the fence to a tree.
 We watched it for a while as it got its bearings. It flew again and tucked up inside a bush.

Before I left, I made sure to ask the homeowner to have the chimney cap fixed so this won't happen again.