Feb 27, 2013

Another grounded hawk

Today WES received a call about a hawk in San Jose. It had been observed for two days, in the same location.

WES' Sammarye arrived quickly. The bird was hunched up and barely struggled when she picked it up.

It was transported to the WIldlife Center of Silicon Valley where it received immediate medical attention. 
As of Friday, March 1, it was still in critical condition.

Recently, quite a few weakened red-tailed hawks have been collected in the Greater Bay Area. While it's  not uncommon to find juveniles, failing to thrive, there is concern that rodenticide might be the primary cause for the raptors' condition.

Many, many thanks to those of you who have already sponsored blood tests to help determine the cause of these recent casualties Mary, JoAnn, Jason, Lloyd, Amy, Dimitrios, and Eric!!!

Sponsor a coagulation panel on a live bird for $45.00 HERE, which confirms exposure to an anticoagulant, or sponsor a $110.00 rodenticide screening, which actually pinpoints the poison, HERE.

Feb 23, 2013

Ivory Belongs To Elephants

On February 9th, a group of Kenyans set out on a walk from Nakumatt Likoni, Mombasa to the UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi to raise awareness about the brutal and ongoing slaughter of African elephants for their tusks.

The walk was organized by conservationist Jim Nyamu, co-founder of Elephant Neighbors Center. He's due to complete his 321 mile journey today, February 23.

ENC's Ivory Belongs To Elephants campaign is a precursor to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting to be held in Thailand March 3-14, where the fate of the African elephant will be at stake.

There is worldwide concern that if CITES does not use its authority and take action now to sanction countries that do little or nothing to crack down on their illegal ivory trade, elephant and rhino populations will continue to plummet.

WWF estimates up to 30,000 African elephants are killed each year by poachers.
The current rate of elephant poaching is so scary. If nothing happens in the next 25 years, we will have no elephants in Kenya! - Jim Nyamu
Please sign WWF's petition, HERE, asking Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to ban all ivory trade in Thailand. More on the efforts to ban the trade of ivory, HERE.

Friend Jim on Facebook, HERE, or follow the Elephants Neighbors Center, HERE

Don't miss National Geographic's Battle for the ELephants, premiering February 27 on PBS. Click the image below for your local listings.

For some, this walk to save the elephants evokes memories of another Kenyan, the late Michael Mayeku Werikhe, who, in 1982, embarked on his first walk to bring awareness about the endangered black rhino. He wasn't a biologist or researcher - he was an ordinary citizen, working at an automobile factory at the time, who knew he had to do something - anything, so he started walking. In his life he would walk thousands of miles across four continenents for his cause. Watch a short but very moving documentary about Michael, HERE.

We hope you're inspired by these brave and bold citizens, enough to find a wildlife cause of your own, and take action. Let us know, HERE, we'd love to feature your efforts on our blog.

Remember the power of one.

Feb 22, 2013

Friday Rounds Feb 22

By Deanna Barth

It started with my rounds on February 13 in Monterey. On the Wharf, I found two birds that needed help.

The first, was a rock pigeon with material so tightly wrapped around its toes, it's foot looked like a club as it hobbled along. It was flighty and wouldn't come close enough for me to capture it.

The second bird, a good-sized gull entangled in fishing line and possibly an embedded hook, was also too skittish to bait in. I tried everything in my bag of tricks to get it to at least fly down off the roof of one of the buildings on the wharf. I think somebody's tried to catch it before.

Today I returned to the wharf to see if I could spot the gull. Sure enough it was still there. 
The monofilament line had moved around and there seemed to be more of it hanging out from the bird's wing.

He was still very sketchy. I walked to the very end of the pier - as far away from people as I could get, set up my net and baited in about 25 gulls, trying to lure that particular one.

He was one of the last to appear. I tried for over an hour, but every time it got close, people, kids, dogs...something would cause all the gulls to fly off. Ugh!

Most passersby are oblivious and don't even recognize what I am doing, but today, this one woman stood there watching from a distance the entire time, and when I had finally given up she approached me and said, "Your job is so infuriating. I couldn't do it. I tried to stop as many people as I could for you, but they just don't listen!" So true.

As I made my way to the car, I saw the hobbled pigeon. Unfortunately, he didn't hang around long enough for me to get set up. I'll be back.

Feb 16, 2013

Snake rescue

This morning, WES received a call from a fellow in downtown Santa Cruz, reporting a very long constrictor-like snake that he said, "does not belong in public", it was so large. It was found behind a construction site.

Not knowing what they would find, lead responders Duane and Rebecca brought gear suitable for an 8' snake.

When they arrived, they found a very, very chilled and somewhat dehydrated black king snake - 
maybe 3 feet in length. This species is not native to the area, but are often owned as exotic pets.

Rebecca placed the serpent into a pillow case and set it on the dashboard of the rescue vehicle with the heater blowing warm air. 
By the time they reached the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, it was starting to warm up and wriggle.

At the shelter, the snake was quickly seen by a veterinarian and then placed into a large terrarium with a heat lamp and a deep bowl of warm water. The snake began drinking immediately.


Help Hawks

Photo credit Alex Deutsch
Since the beginning of the year, wildlife hospitals in the Bay Area have seen an increase in admissions of ailing red-tailed hawks.

While it's not unusual to find starving juveniles this time of year - young hawks trying to survive their first winter, wildlife rehabilitators are seeing ailing adults, as well.

Could they be suffering from exposure to second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) from feeding on poisoned mice and rats?

The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose takes a proactive approach to answer this question, sampling the blood of predatory birds they suspect for SGAR exposure.

Their hunch paid off recently when test results for 
the red-tailed hawk rescued by WES on January 28th came back positive for exposure to an anticoagulant agent.

Data is extremely limited as to how many predatory birds are exposed to SGARs - to what degree, and exactly which poisons are being found, because wildlife hospitals cannot afford to run numerous blood tests.

Currently, the cost for a Coagulation Panel on a live bird is $45.00. A more comprehensive post-mortem Rodenticide Screening, which can pinpoint the exact poison, runs $110.00.

We believe all raptors suspected of rodenticide poisoning should be tested.
Please, please help us raise enough money to pay for at least 10 Coagulation Panels and 10 Rodenticide Screenings.   

Sponsor a Coagulation Panel or Rodenticide Screening now, HERE.

If you want to pay with a credit card or check, email WES.


Feb 15, 2013

Wildlife Intrusion Delusion

by Rebecca Dmytryk, Wildlife Emergency Services and Humane Pest Control

It's that time of year, again. We're just a few weeks away from the birthing season for urban wildlife, like squirrels, skunks and raccoons. 

Before it's too late, homeowners should have one last look around their property for signs of unwanted guests, because, once babies arrive, getting rid of the animals becomes much more difficult. Not impossible, just a lot more work!

Baby raccoons in a reunion box.

Signs of an intrusion include ripped siding, pulled back screens, missing vents, and holes leading under a structure's foundation.

If openings are found, residents should not seal up the gaps, as this risks entombing animals inside, but instead, contact a professional company that will focus, not on the animals, but their access points.

The animals are not the problem, they are a symptom.  

The real problem is the reason the animals have invaded, which is either food, shelter, or both. When we take these things away, the animals leave.

There will always be squirrels, skunks, opossum, raccoon and coyote residing in or near populated areas.

That's why trapping and killing wild animals is not a long-term solution.

Trapping is an outdated practice that removes a few individual animals, but does nothing to permanently solve the problem.

Even if they were all eradicated at once, more would come, as the urban landscape is a niche - a modern ecosystem that can support a number of wild creatures, and therein lies the key - how many?

Urban wildlife populations can be controlled sustainably by limiting their access to food and shelter. For example, shoring up holes in buildings, making sure garbage bins are shut, and that no pet food is left outside.

For those with small pets or livestock, their enclosures must be built, not to keep them inside, but designed to keep predators out.

If communities would make a concerted effort to do these things, they would surely see a reduction in wildlife conflicts. Trapping, though, is not the answer, for many reasons.

In California, relocating trapped wildlife is prohibited. Relocation spreads disease among wild populations, and research has shown that many relocated animals meet their demise as they try to return home.

In California, then, legally trapped nuisance wild animals must be released on site or destroyed.

Lethal control will be futile, and, in some cases - like with coyotes, it can cause a species to have greater and larger litters.

What is effective in protecting people, their pets and their property, is working with resident animals to solve specific problems.

Sustainable methods include eviction and exclusion from structures, aversion systems, and use of non-harmful repellants.

In and around the Bay Area there are only a handful or service providers, specializing in non-lethal wildlife control, including A Wildlife Exclusion Service, serving Sonoma and Napa counties, Animal Pest Control, in Santa Rosa, WildCare Solutions in Marin, and Humane Pest Control, serving the Peninsula and the East Bay, south, including Monterey County.

These businesses can be contacted directly or through our California wildlife referral hotline at 1-866-WILD-911, extension 2.

In the meantime, if residents locate openings in their homes, like a broken subfloor vent, they can try this simple method of finding out if a nocturnal animal is living inside.

Balled-up newspaper can be used to block an entry - tightly enough that a gust of wind won't blow it out, but so an animal can easily push through. The outside layer can be spritzed with essential oils like citronella, eucalyptus, or peppermint to make it offensive to most animals.

The hole should be checked every morning to see if the paper has been disturbed. If undisturbed for two consecutive mornings, the animal has likely abandoned this entrance.

Please note, in California, anyone trapping 'nuisance' wildlife must comply with applicable local and state regulations. Traps must bear a number or identifying mark registered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Title 14 CCR Section 465.5 f 1). A person proposing to set a trap within 150 yards of a habitable dwelling (other than their own), must first acquire written consent of surrounding homeowners (Title 14 CCR Section 465.5 g 3). Traps must be inspected and animals removed at least once in 24 hours. It is not enough that someone is annoyed with wildlife on their property, they must show damage to crops or property before fur-bearers or non-game mammals may be taken under Fish and Wildlife Code 4152, and then, only the animal(s) causing the damage may be taken - non target animals that are inadvertently trapped must be released.

Trapping is not the answer!

Feb 5, 2013

Grounded Hawks

Photo credit Barbara Norris
It was late afternoon on January 26th when WES received a call about a downed hawk in Felton. It was dark by the time responders arrived on scene - a field of tall grass. Thankfully, Gabriel, the person who first spotted the raptor, was kind enough to stand by and guide rescuers to the bird using a headlamp.

There were no obvious signs of injury, but the hawk was apparently unable to fly. WES's first responders transported the bird to Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz.

Photo credit Barbara Norris

On January 28th, WES received information about a juvenile red-tailed hawk in San Jose, acting somewhat peculiar.

According to the RP, Suzanne, the hawk appeared every morning on a grassy lawn at eBay Park North, just outside the PayPal building.

For hours, it would root around in the grass, possibly drinking dew from the blades of grass, or maybe finding insects or worms to eat.
It could fly, but never very far. For the most part, it ignored pedestrians and allowed people to get within 8' or so.

Photo credit Barbara Norris
Thanks to the photos and video supplied by Barbara and Suzanne, we were able to better assess the bird's condition. There were no apparent signs of injury. Its eyes appeared clear, and it was bright and alert. Other than its behavior, it seemed fine.

As wildlife first responders, we work under a Code of Practice, and one of our self-imposed principals is to not interfere with nature - with natural selection. Rarely is this an issue, as most if not all of the casualties we encounter are victims of anthropogenic, or Man-related, trauma, but i
n this case, it wasn't so clear.

Were we observing an animal that was ill, or 
suffering from sub-lethal levels of rodenticide poison, or was this an example of an individual animal failing to thrive?

Photo credit Barbara Norris
In a wild setting with few human influences, there would be no question of leaving the bird to its fate, but here we were presented with a raptor in a densely populated, industrialized setting.

We decided to capture the bird and have it evaluated. If nothing else, we would learn to better evaluate raptors exhibiting similar behavior.

On February 1st, husband and wife team Duane and Rebecca got an early start for San Jose. They wanted to play into the bird's morning habit of foraging on the lawn and when it would be the hungriest.

When they arrived, the hawk was perched on a light post nearby, above the lawn. It eventually flew down to the grass as expected.

The team set a bal chatri - a trap specifically designed for predator birds. In less than a minute, the bird was on top of the cage that housed a live mouse. The responders had to hold back their temptation to rush in until they were certain the birds legs were snared.

Check out the video of the rescue, below.

The young hawk was transported to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, where an examination revealed the bird to be emaciated, weighing only 808 grams, its mucous membranes were pale and the pads of his feet were somewhat swollen. Blood was drawn to rule out exposure to rodenticide. They expect the results Monday.

Photo credit Alex Deutsch

On February 4th, another red-tailed hawk was found grounded in Fremont. 

One of WES's experienced volunteers, Sammarye, volunteered to capture the bird and transport it to the wildlife hospital.

This hawk was in bad shape. Weak and unable to fly.

At the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, they found it to be dehydrated, emaciated, anemic, and battling an infection.

Unfortunately, this one didn't make it. He died a day later.

Many thanks to the wonderful wildlife medical staff and the
rehabilitation volunteers at WCSV for caring for the ill and injured!

Feb 1, 2013

Friday Rounds Feb. 1

By Deanna Barth

 This particular Friday started out with an assignment. Our wildlife hotline had received a call from a woman reporting an injured coot at San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz.

Within minutes of my arrival, I thought I had found the coot in question. All of the resident waterfowl were either in the water or at the pond's edge, except this one.

I took a while to observe the bird from a distance, and never saw it move. People walked by, children ran past loudly, and even a bicyclist came within a couple of feet of it, and the coot simply turned its head towards the commotion without moving its body.

I assumed this was the coot that had been reported, but I wanted to see it walk to confirm any injury. 

In case it was, I wanted to be ready. I went to my vehicle and grabbed my long-handled net and 'bait'.

With my net positioned for a capture, I tossed a small handful of crumbles towards the coot, and watched it make one pitiful lunging motion towards me, with its left foot curled into a ball.

I quickly flipped the net, catching the coot by surprise.

After 'processing' the bird from the netting material and safely stowing it in a carrier for transport, 
I took a few minutes to walk around the pond and check out the other birds.

The rest of the waterfowl appeared in good shape, so I headed over to Native Animal Rescue (NAR) where the coot would receive medical attention. 
Hopefully it’s able to recover from its injuries.

It had been a while since I’d visited the Santa Cruz area, so after dropping off the coot at NAR, I headed over to the Capitola Wharf to search for injured birds.

I stood at the edge of the beach, scanning with my binoculars. There were 50 or so gulls.  The ones I could see looked good, but I wanted a better look.

I made a tossing motion, letting only a few crumbs fly, and was immediately surrounded by squawking gulls and opportunistic pigeons. None had any noticeable impairments.

I was just about to leave, when one of the pigeons at my feet caught my attention. It would take a couple of steps, then bend down and peck at its feet. From my vantage point, looking down, I couldn't see what it was pecking at.

I knelt down and saw that the poor bird had what looked like hair and string wrapped around both feet, essentially hobbled.

I positioned my capture net, placed a pile of crumbles at the hoop's base, and scooped up the distressed bird.

With its head tucked into my shirt to reduce stress, I began the tedious process of removing all the hairs/strings.

One foot was entangled worse than the other, with strands wrapped tightly around each toe, multiple times. Thankfully, there was no penetration of the skin.

Other than the entanglement, the bird was very fit, so I felt okay releasing it once the material was removed.

After about 10 minutes of careful and meticulous cutting of the hair and string, the bird's  legs were free. I set the pigeon down on the ground and released my grip. It stood at my feet again, pecking at the remaining crumbles, as if nothing had happened.

This was a good day. I felt like I had served my community by being available to respond to a reportedly injured animal, and that I happened to be in the right place at the right time to help an individual that would have likely been overlooked for some time!

Thank you to passerby, Sarah, for taking a photo of the pigeon rescue!