May 31, 2013

Lucky Number Seven

Don't miss the great video at the end!

On Friday, May 24th, WES was called about a group, or surfeit, of striped skunks. Baby skunks, about 7 weeks old. 

Four or five kits were being seen out during the day, rummaging among plants and grasses near their den - an excavated hollow underneath a cement walkway leading to the entrance of a two-story business complex in Soquel, CA.

It's normal to see young skunks exploring and playing outside while their mother sleeps during the day, but, according to one of the tenants, the mother was found struck and killed by a car Thursday morning.

The youngsters were alert, and kept darting back under the sidewalk when approached.

That evening, though, WES responders were able to lure two of kits out into the open, and safely capture them. A 
handful of moist food was left for the remaining orphans, so they would at least have nourishment.

Over the holiday weekend, volunteers checked the den site repeatedly, hoping to see the little ones out and about, but no luck. Another handful of nutritious food was left on Sunday morning.

That was the last time we left food. We needed the babies to be hungry enough to venture away from the den so we'd have a chance at capturing them all.

By Wednesday afternoon, the kits were out and roaming about.

Lead responder, Duane Titus, captured - not three, but, four baby skunks, bringing the total to six. They were immediately transported to Native Animal Rescue's skunk specialist, Monique where they joined their siblings.

The story doesn't end there... Much to our surprise, on Thursday morning we were called about another kit - baby skunk Number Seven!

Duane was on scene in minutes, but when he arrived, the skunk was no where to be found.

Later in the day, we got some help from Michelle, who works at  The Family Network (located in the complex). When she saw the baby skunk away from the den, she quickly blocked off the entrances with newspaper. The baby took refuge behind a wall.

Duane and Rebecca Dmytryk responded and were able to coax the little skunk out into the open where it was safely contained. It was delivered to Monique that evening.

If you'd like to offset the costs of feeding these orphans, please go HERE. Donate as little as $10.00 to help make a difference! Thanks!

May 29, 2013

SB 132 passes the Senate Floor

Senate Bill 132 (Hill), which would require the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to utilize non-lethal options when responding to mountain lion encounters, where there is no immediate threat to human life, passed the California Senate Floor last night - unanimously! 

According to 
Rebecca Dmytryk, founder of Wildlife Emergency Services (WES), 
"This is definitely a step in the right direction." 
"It's about doing the right thing. It doesn't take away the Department's authority to kill a mountain lion that's a threat to human life, but it gives them more options."
The proposed legislation would also give the Department authority to partner with qualified individuals, educational institutions, and NGO's to implement non-lethal procedures. 

It's already proven successful. 

On March 9th, Dmytryk and her husband, both wildlife capture experts, were called on to assist with a mountain lion cub that had wandered into a backyard near Almaden. See the full story, HERE.

More recently, WES was called upon by Santa Cruz Police to help with an adult mountain lion that was found wandering the city street. More, HERE.
"We feel honored to have worked with the Department on these two mountain lion incidents, and I think we all proved how successful such collaboration can be. Both situations went really smoothly. I like to say, it went by the soon-to-be-written book."
After the mountain lion cub shooting in Half Moon Bay on December 1st, Dmytryk launched a petition, HERE, calling for the Department to consider alternatives to lethal take of mountain lions.
"The public outcry was intense and a bit misdirected. I wanted to give the people a voice and a direction." 
In addition, Dmytryk has pulled together a group of experts from around the country to work on guidelines for First Response and rehabilitation of cougars. These will be presented to the Department for its consideration.

May 25, 2013

Barn Owl Relocation

A pair of barn owls took up residency inside a small building that was under construction. The owls entered through an open doorway and accessed the attic through an open hatch. There, they tended to their two chicks.

By mid-May, the guest house was nearing completion. Windows and doors were ready to be installed, which would prevent the owls from entering.

Like most wild birds, the barn owls and their nest were protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and could not be disturbed without authorization from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Due to the unusual circumstances, we were given permission to resituate the owlets to a nest box on site.

On Wednesday, Duane built a custom barn owl box and installed it in a nearby oak tree.

Next, the two owlets were removed from the attic and placed inside their new home, about 20 yards away.

That night, Sammarye volunteered to monitor the box, hoping to confirm a reunion.

She saw an adult owl fly near the box, but could not confirm a food drop. We had left a few dead mice inside the box in case they got hungry.

Sammarye monitored again the next night. Here's her account:

The adults showed up around 9:30 - pretty much the time that I heard the screech the first night. I saw a flash of wings over the vineyard, twice, but did not see them enter the box. 
Later, one of the parents flew to the box and sat at the corner for awhile. I could not see if it was carrying anything. It flew into the opening and came out rather quickly. 
The second time, the owl sat on the box for only a minute or so, and flew in. It stayed much longer. It came to the opening and peered out for a couple of minutes before leaving.

A First

Last week's mountain lion rescue wasn't our first...

On March 9th, at about 6:30 PM, WES received a call from a Wildlife Officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife about a young mountain lion, estimated to be about 15-20 pounds. 

The cub had made its way into a residential backyard in Almaden, at the base of the Los Capitancillos hills. Frightened, it sought shelter up inside a densely foliated shrub where it felt hidden and protected.

WES' lead capture specialists, Duane and Rebecca, responded immediately. Together, along with officers from the San Jose Police Department, San Jose Animal Care and Services Department and four Wildlife Officers, they assisted in safely capturing the cub. 

The mountain lion cub was severely underweight.

It was transported to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley where it was sedated and examined by Wildlife Rehabilitation Supervisor, Ashley Kinney.

The male cub, estimated to be about 5 months old, weighted only 15 pounds - it was severely underweight, dehydrated and infested with fleas and ticks. After administering fluids, the young mountain lion was allowed to rest overnight.

Ashley Kinney administers fluid to the emaciated cub.

The next day, the cub was transported to CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory (WIL) in Rancho Cordova. There, it received additional treatments, and various diagnostic tests, all of which came back negative for disease.

WIL veterinarians and staff closely monitored the emaciated cat's progress as it
was slowly introduced to appropriate foods. Once healthy and fit, the cat could be placed at a sanctuary or educational institution.

The successful rehabilitation and release of Florida panthers by White Oak Conservation Center suggests a cub this age is a good candidate for rehabilitation, unfortunately, however, the rehabilitation and re-wilding of mountain lions in California is not permitted at this time, but, there is legislation pending, SB 132 (Hill), that might allow for it in the future.

It wasn't long before the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum expressed interest in providing a permanent home for the cub. After approvals for his placement were granted by both state wildlife agencies, on April 15, the cub was transferred to their compound in Tucson, ArizonaAlthough this cat will spend the rest of its life in captivity, it will be housed in a very large enclosure that resembles a natural environment. Check out a 360 view of it, HERE.

We want to thank the
 leadership of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for proposed changes to the Department's mountain lion policies and procedures to include non-lethal action when possible, and assistance from approved NGOs when appropriate. See the March 1, 2013 draft HERE.

We are extremely honored to have assisted in two situations where such collaboration among multiple responding agencies and outside specialists proved successful in containing and removing mountain lions from urban areas, safely and without harm.

If you'd like to send a letter of appreciation to the Department for taking these measures, please write to the CDFW Director Charlton Bonham, 1416 Ninth St., 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814 or email him at

May 24, 2013

Then there was four...

After a successful reunion of three fallen Western screech owls (story HERE), we considered adding a fourth - a foster.

During the same week the Los Altos owlets were found and delivered to PHS Wildlife Center, another baby owl was found in San Carlos. It, too, had fallen from its nest in a palm tree and was taken to PHS for care.

We decided not to attempt a reunion due to complications with the nest site, and apprehensive about adding it to the Los Altos nest box, as we didn't want to overburden the parents. 

A week later, we revisited the idea of fostering the little owl into the Los Altos box.

With a security camera giving us an inside view of the nest, we felt we could keep an eye on how things were going - if all the babies were getting enough to eat. We could also supplement their food by placing mice in the box, from time to time if need be. Bottom line, it was this little owl's best chance of growing up wild.

On the evening of May 16th, the little orphan owl was introduced into the Los Altos box. Check out the video.

The parents didn't seem to have any problem accepting the new addition.

On May 19th, we checked on the owlets and made some modifications to the nest box, raising the entrance a few inches and making the hole a tad smaller, attaching branches for them to drop onto when they fledged, and installing a better surveillance system that would stream, live, to the Internet through Ustream. 

Before leaving, we placed a few dead mice in the box to supplement what the parents were providing, just in case.

With our live-streaming "nest cam", we were able to keep an eye on the owlets and watch them grow. With every passing day they seemed to get more active, flapping their wings and taking turns perching at the entrance.

Last night, all the owlets fledged. This evening, they were heard in the canopy of the oak, adjacent to the nest. Success!

May 21, 2013

Net Return

A raccoon twisted up in a golf hitting net. It had struggled for hours until help arrived.

This morning at 3:30 AM, WES received a call from Santa Cruz Regional 9-1-1.

A resident in Ben Lomond was reporting a large raccoon entangled in netting in his backyard. 
Rebecca Dmytryk, founder of Wildlife Emergency Services (WES), responded immediately. 

Check out the video below of the raccoon being untwisted and freed from the golf hitting net.

May 18, 2013

Local Wildlife Heroes

There were a few wildlife incidents this week that, had it not been for the individuals involved, could have ended quite differently.

We'd like to recognize these local heroes for their compassion, their smarts, their courage, and most of all - their will to help an animal in trouble.

Our first shout-out goes to Ron Hopping (22), for helping out some baby skunks.

It started about a week ago, when his father found a dead skunk in the side yard of the family's home in Soquel, CA. O
n Monday, Ron noticed 3 baby skunks hiding in some bushes in the back yard.

After bringing the family pets inside, Ron started calling around to find help.

Meanwhile, the four-week old kits made their way to the front yard and were headed for the front door. 

Ron had gotten some handling tips from a local wildlife rehabilitator, so he carefully covered the little ones with a large towel and then gently placed them into a box lined with a blanket. He added a sock of heated dry rice to keep them warm.

Later, the three female striped skunks, Meeny, Miny and Mo, were transported to Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz for foster care.

When asked about the rescue, Ron said he isn't afraid of skunks, in fact, he misses the smell of skunk - it reminds him of his late canine companion, Bubba, a Newfoundland that used to get sprayed from time to time. 

We've invited Ron to join our Skunk Team!

Caring for orphaned carnivores can be costly. If you would like to help cover some of the costs of fostering these three little ones, we're raising funds to purchase 8,000 mealworms and 130 frozen mice for the rehabilitator. Go HERE to chip in.

Saved by Sgt. Ridgway from a perilous predicament. 

Our next shout-out goes to Lieutenant Brian Ridgway of the Watsonville Police Department who courageously helped a snake out of harm's way... a big snake. A very, very big snake.

It was early evening when WES received a call from Watsonville Police Dispatch requesting assistance with a large constrictor-like snake. Someone had reportedly tossed the snake from their vehicle in the parking lot of the Watsonville Taco Bell.

On scene, Sgt. Ridgway found the large serpent slithering 
along the gutter. With cat-like reflexes he apprehended the near five-foot-long gopher snake, grabbing it behind the head. He placed the snake in an evidence bag until WES responders arrived.

The snake was released into a nearby field.

Check out the video of the gopher snake coiled, hissing and vibrating its tail in a defensive posture.

Our next shout-out goes to Nicole Lambert who helped reunite a mother raccoon with her babies.

Nicole works at a Lowe's. On Wednesday morning, as Lowe's employees were preparing to move one of the pallets in the garden section, they discovered a mother raccoon and her young sleeping in between the warm sacks of mulch. 

After being disturbed, the mother raccoon ran off, carrying her 3-week old baby gently in her mouth, and the pallet was moved.

Hours later, the mother raccoon appeared by the cash registers where the pallet had been. Nicole instinctively knew there must still be at least one baby left.

She was right. There were two left behind.

The cubs were placed inside a cardboard box and taken indoors.

Reunited with mom thanks to Nicole Lambert!
A little while later, Nicole was working in the flowers section when she said the mother raccoon approached her, touched her pant leg, made eye contact with her, then walked off. 

Nicole knew she just had to help this mom get her babies back.

After convincing management to bring the box back outside, she situated the cubs in a quiet spot at the back of the garden section. When the mother returned again, Nicole herded her in that direction. The mom was a bit confused until Nicole tilted the box to show her the cubs. The mom immediately gathered one cub and came back for the last one a few hours later.

A huge Thank You! to Ron Hopping, Lt. Brian "Tarzan" Ridgway, and Nicole Lambert for going out of your way to help an animal in need.

Found Falcon

Occasionally, our rescues involve animals that are not injured, but lost.

Yesterday, we retrieved a small falcon, an Aplomado falcon, that was obviously a captive bird.

It had reportedly landed on a woman's arm, then jumped on her back.

First Responder Duane Titus was on scene quickly, and lured the bird close using a dead gopher. 

The young bird had an identification ring on its leg. We put out the word, and by morning we had found the licensed falconer who'd lost her.

Many thanks to everyone who helped get this lovely bird back to its keeper! 

May 16, 2013

Santa Cruz Lion

By Rebecca Dmytryk

At 8:10 this morning we received a call from Santa Cruz Police Department and the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter looking for assistance with a mountain lion incident in Santa Cruz.

A young male mountain lion, estimated to be just under two years old, had wandered down from the Santa Cruz Mountains and into the thick of the city.

It was first observed at daybreak in the parking lot of the Ramada Inn on Water near Ocean. 
Under pursuit by authorities hoping to contain it in a safe location, the lion leapt over a security fence and into the San Lorenzo Creek.

The vertical cement walls of the urban channel were too high for the cat to scale, leaving it only two ways out. 
Feeling pressure from a growing number of first responders and gathering spectators, the cat sought shelter in a relatively small patch of reeds.

Duane rigged a large net across the channel to prevent the lion from escaping.

With the animal quiet and somewhat contained, authorities had time to work out a plan to get the lion safely out of the city and back into the wild.

One of the first plans under consideration involved herding the lion up the channel, but that would have deposited it into a residential area. It would be safer to tranquilize the animal and move it to a suitable location.

Thankfully, specialists from the UC Santa Cruz Puma Project were on scene, lending their expertise in safe capture of relocation of the large felines.

For more on this story, please check out the Puma Project's blog post, HERE.

The cat was tranquilized by experts with UCSC's Puma Project.

Paul Houghtaling with the tranquilized cat.

Today's incredible rescue was a team effort - an outstanding demonstration of the Department of Fish and Wildlife's new mountain lion policy, which encourages collaboration with outside specialists for non-lethal options.

The successful outcome was also a result of the caliber of people involved - everyone was at the top of their game, 
calm, cool, and professional.


Video coming soon.

Check out the news coverage:

May 14, 2013

Then There Was Three

This morning WES was contacted by the SPCA for Monterey County about a young barn owl that had fallen from its nest inside a covered riding arena in Hollister, CA. 

The property owner found the little owl yesterday at about 3:00 PM, so it missed last night's feedings by its parents. Arrangements were made to have the owlet transferred to our headquarters for a cursory exam and feeding.

On arrival, the chick was somewhat quiet but otherwise in good shape - no signs of injury from its fall. It was placed in a carrier and provided a meal of gopher bits, which it readily devoured.

By afternoon, the owlet was bright, alert, exhibiting normal barn owl spunkiness, so plans were made to attempt a reunion.

At about 6:30 PM, Duane and Rebecca headed for Hollister. Once on scene, Carrie, the landowner, showed them where the baby had been found.

The sandy ground was littered with owl pellets, so they knew the nest was somewhere above, within the framework of the metal truss, but it wasn't obvious.

Duane started up the ladder to investigate, when an adult owl shot out of an opening between the roof and one of the rafters - pinpointing the nest location.

Duane found two other chicks in the nest. They were huddled together, just a few inches away from the hole through which the younger owlet had fallen.

It took about 30 minutes for Duane to make the necessary repairs to the nest. He shored up three openings at one end, and used a cinder block to help keep the chicks in the nest cavity until they're older.

With the nest more secure, 
the little owlet was delivered home.

Check out the video below.

May 5, 2013

Western screech owl chicks

Western screech owl chick being fed at PHS wildlife hospital. Photo courtesy Patrick Hogan
This week, we assisted Peninsula Humane Society in their efforts to reunite 3 Western screech owl chicks in Los Altos, CA.

Photo courtesy Patrick Hogan
On Sunday, April 28th, one of the owlets was discovered at the base of a palm tree in a residential backyard. The little owl was taken to PHS' Wildlife Center for care.

A few days later, two more chicks were found.

All 3 owlets were healthy and uninjured despite the 30' fall. They were reunited and housed together at the wildlife hospital, but needed to get back home.

Easier said than done!

Reuniting wildlife takes a tremendous amount of time and effort, especially when it involves constructing a replacement nest. Besides having to build and secure the nest, the process often requires coordinating with the wildlife hospital, the reuniting team, and land owners.

By the time everything was organized, days had passed, and that was a major concern. The parent owls had been without their chicks for 3 nights! Were they still there? Would they take them back?

Together, we decided it was worth the effort. The babies would never be in harms way, and if the reunion failed, the chicks would return to the wildlife hospital and be cared for until they could fly and hunt on their own.

On Sunday, May 5th, WES volunteers met at the residence near North San Antonio Road.

Lindsay had driven to Burlingame and picked up the baby owls and a go-bag of dead pinkie mice, Duane and Rebecca drove from Moss Landing with the owl box and ladder, and Susan, Sammarye, Jeff and Jessica were on hand to help out. 

Duane carried the nest box up the ladder and began securing it to the trunk of the tree, when out from the dried palm fronds flew an adult screech owl - a good sign that at least one parent was still around!

One by one the owlets were placed in their new home. Photo by Lindsay Marshall

Check out the video of the renesting:

One of the most important steps in the reuniting process is monitoring to confirm a successful reunion. In this particular case, we wanted to be sure an adult screech owl entered the box, or, at the very least, perched at the entrance. Neil, the resident and person who'd first discovered the babies, volunteered to keep watch for us.

The next morning, Neil reported hearing a lot of owl activity in the backyard, but he could not be sure an adult entered the box.

After consulting with Patrick Hogan, Wildlife Supervisor at Peninsula Humane Society and strong advocate of reuniting, we agreed it was worth another attempt - we'd leave the babies in the box another night. This time, though, we'd have eyes inside the box!

WES' Duane Titus, an electrical contractor by trade, quickly pieced together a remote monitoring system using an old infrared security camera and small television.

He met Lindsay at the house before noon so she could feed the owlets. We needed to be sure they had a good meal since we weren't certain the parents had tended to them during the night. Timing was important, though. They needed to be fed early, as opposed to later in the day, because we wanted them hungry and vocal come nightfall.

Photo by Lindsay Marshall

Once again, when Duane climbed the ladder to work on the nest box, one of the adult owls flew from the dry fronds. This time it landed in a nearby tree and kept watch, intently. 

Carter, Lindsay's oldest son helped Duane with the electronics.

Show time! With the camera and monitor in place, all we needed were a couple of volunteers willing to give up their evening to monitor the box. Thankfully, we have some amazingly dedicated volunteers who agreed to "babysit".

Susan McCarthy took the first shift, arriving at 7:30. She parked next to the yard, near the tree, and brought the little television monitor into her car to watch covertly. Susan kept in touch with the team, texting what she observed.

By 8:30 there had been little activity, though Neil said he saw the parents flying around the palm tree. 

From Susan:
Date: May 6, 2013 8:43:59 PM PDT
Subject: I have sound turned down. adults may be chucking - someone is.
At about 9:30, Sammarye Lewis arrived for the next shift. The two continued watching and waiting. At one point, they saw an adult owl peek inside the box, then fly off. Finally, right about 10:00 PM, one of the parents entered the box and fed a bug to its chicks.
Date: May 6, 2013 10:03:45 PM PDT 
Subject: Adult just fed baby!
This was an exciting moment for everyone involved - confirmation that the parents had found their young and resumed parental care.

Neil kept watch and continued to report what he saw. The first night after the camera was installed, he said the parents only peeked inside to feed, but never entered the box. The following night, though, both parents were seen entering the box multiple times.

Check out the video of the parents feeding - it was recorded off the tv monitor by Neil. (Thank you, Neil!)


Stay tuned! We're looking at the possibilities of installing a permanent "nest cam" that could stream live video through Ustream, so everyone would be able to watch these lucky babies grow up. The projected cost of the setup it about $600.00. If you'd like to sponsor the Los Altos Screech Owl Nest Cam project, please go HERE.

May 4, 2013

Baby Mammals: First Aid

The information offered in this post is for emergency situations, where such life-saving efforts are necessary.

When WES is contacted about a potentially abandoned infant, our Call-Takers ask the "finder" a series of questions to determine the species and its condition.

First, we'll ask if it appears injured. Next, we'll try to figure out how long it's been without its mom, so we can better advise the caller on what to do.

Like human infants, baby mammals will cry when they are hungry or in distress. Crying, though, can draw the attention of a predator. Adult animals instinctively know to keep quiet - 
they know it would give away their location. For example, unlike this entrapped baby raccoon, HERE, calling out for help, an adult raccoon in the same predicament would remain silent.

An uninjured infant found crying, then, can indicate it's been separated from its mother, long enough to be cold and hungry. It's not uncommon to find orphaned mammals out in the open, using their last bit of strength to search for their mother.

A baby's body posture and mobility is also a good indicator of its condition. If a baby mammal is found outside its nest, quiet, and curled up in a fetal position, it's probably suffering from hypothermia and requires warmth, immediately.

Supplemental heat can be provided using basic household items. As a rule, confined animals
must be given enough room to get away from the heat source as needed. 

Heating Pad. A cloth-covered heating pad is an excellent way to provide warmth at a controlled temperature. Set on High, to start - just to get the pad heated up, the unit should be turned down until the surface is warm to the touch, not hot.

If the pad is set underneath a cardboard box or container, though, it might need to be set higher for the heat to transfer through the material.

Typically, heating pads are placed under or around a portion of a container. See photo.

Hot Water Bottle. A glass or plastic bottle filled with hot water and, importantly, wrapped with a lightweight towel, can provide warmth, but only temporarily. After about 30 minutes the water will cool and start to draw warmth away from the animal.

Microwaved Dry Rice. Dry rice - no water added, can be heated in a microwave until it's hot to the touch. The rice can then be poured into a fabric sack - like a sock or pillow case, or another type of container. Heated rice can give off heat for up to an hour, and, once cooled, it won't draw heat away from the baby.

Hot Wash Cloth. A hot washcloth placed in a heavy duty plastic bag and covered with a lightweight towel will provide warmth for about 25 minutes. Like the dry rice, the cloth in the bag can be shaped to fit under or around an animal, as needed.

Hot Stones. In primitive situations, dense stones can be heated and wrapped with towels to provide warmth for up to an hour.

Providing warmth is a critical step in saving the life of baby animal. Hydration must also be considered. 

The skin of a dehydrated mammal will 'tent' when pinched - the skin will be slow to flatten. While dehydration can be a life-threatening condition in young ones, administering fluids is not for the inexperienced - it's very, very easy to make a fatal mistake.

As a general rule, an animal should be warm before it's given fluids, and the animal must be well-hydrated before given solid food or formula.

When babies are admitted into a wildlife hospital for treatment, their first couple of feedings are usually a rehydrating solution, followed by a slow introduction of formula.

Oral fluids are typically administered through a small syringe or pipette, where the amount can be slowly and smoothly delivered. Lactated ringers, Normisol or Pedialyte are preferred, but in an emergency situation a basic oral rehydration solution can be made by dissolving 1 Tsp of sugar and a 1/4 Tsp of salt in a cup of warm filtered water.

Another thing rescuers must consider is, if the infant is so young that the eyelids haven't opened, the baby will need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate. A cotton ball or soft tissue, dampened with warm water, can be used to mimic the tongue of the mother. She would gently lick the genital area until her baby relieves itself.

In some cases, however, baby mammals just need to be left alone. Deer and rabbits tend to leave their young for hours at a time. Fawns that are found lying, curled up, head down (like the one pictured) - is a good sign. On the contrary, a newborn fawn that is ambling around, crying continuously, may need help.

Anyone who finds a wild animal in distress should try to contact a local wildlife specialist or wildlife hospital for direction and immediate transfer.

These and other tips on rescuing wildlife can be found in the recently published book, Wildlife Emergency Response, A Guide For First Responders by Rebecca Dmytryk, available HERE.

May 2, 2013

First Response

by Lindsay Marshall

A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon Wildlife Emergency Services' blog, and as I read I thought, how does one get involved in doing this amazing work?

I'm the mom of two boys, age 7 and 10. My life is made up of a lot of laundry, dishes, and refereeing fights, so I'm always on the lookout for things I can do to keep myself sane. I also want to do something that feels really important, not frivolous.

As a kid, I wanted to become a zookeeper, but my Dad persuaded me to find something more "practical". Now, as I am rounding the corner on age 50, I still want to work with animals, just not always my two human ones.

When I saw that 
Wildlife Emergency Services (WES) was offering a training on how to safely rescue wild animals, I jumped on it.

The all-day class was filled with volunteers from various Bay Area humane societies and animal groups, and a few people like me. 
After the class, I registered to be an on-call volunteer. That was it. The rest of my training would be in the field. Wow!

It wasn't long before I received a text from WES about a potential rescue, asking me to check out a goose with an unidentified bit of plastic stuck on it's wing in Redwood Shores, not far from my home. I was really excited. My first mission.

I went out to take a look for the goose, but it wasn't there. I was asked to check again the following day.

The next day, I was pleasantly surprised that my husband and the youngest of my two boys were interested in helping me find the goose.

After about an hour of searching the park and scanning with binoculars we started to get ready to leave, when off in the distance I saw a lone Canada goose flying in, and I could see a flash of red on its wing. Yes! That's the Goose! We were so excited!

It didn't take long for it to join other geese in the parking lot. Up close, I could see clearly that this plastic thing was a kite handle and there was still a bit of string attached to it.

I reported my findings to Rebecca Dmytryk, who was coordinating the rescue, and she asked if I could continue visiting the area to get the goose used to being approached by people. Once the goose was predictable, they would send 
Deanna, WES' goose expert, to try and capture it.

I went to the location every day as I was assigned, and as each day passed, my family became more and more interested in coming along with me to look for the goose and to see the other birds in the area. I was concerned that my normally loud and rambunctious boys would spoil my efforts, so, the first day they came along, I made them stay in the car and watch.

Over the next week, the goose, which we believe is female, got pretty used to seeing us. Everyday, as I drove up, she came swimming or walking up to meet us, even my youngest son. It was really rewarding to see him be quiet enough and still enough to allow the goose to come close to him.

The boys also got to see a lot of other birds, including goslings. They were all around.

One day, we brought our family pet Gabbi with us. She's a Welsh Harlequin duck. She loved the water there. The other ducks and the geese didn't seem to mind her, but she was ready to come home after about an hour.

By the end of the week, the goose seemed to be comfortable with us, so Deanna made plans to drive up from Hollister to attempt a capture.

I was really excited to watch a goose capture, but, as it often goes when you are dealing with wildlife, their plan may not fit in with your plan. 
We waited all afternoon and the goose never showed.

We teamed up again the following week and Deanna was able to get close to the goose, but not close enough, but we're not done trying. 

The kite handle found its way onto this goose's wing because of humans, so I feel it's our duty to remove it and I feel really privileged to be part of this rescue mission. I'm glad it's one that's taking some time to get it right. I am learning a lot, and it's a great way to teach my kids about nature and about doing the right thing.

To sign up to be an on-call First Responder with WES go HERE, or, to be notified of upcoming training courses, email admin (at)