Oct 25, 2013

WildHelp App update

By Rebecca Dmytryk

The WildHelp App pledge drive on Kickstarter (HERE) is just a few days from ending.

The good news is, thanks to our backers, we reached our initial goal amount of $10,000.00. 

That means (under Kickstarter rules), that in about 2 weeks we'll receive the funds, which is currently just over $13K.

As many of you know, the cost to build the WildHelp App and have it ready by Spring 2014 is close to $32K. Here's a breakdown:

Programming: $14,000.00
Research and data entry: $11,000.00
Development: $3,000.00
Kickstarter fees (based on 20K): $2,000.00
Rewards and shipping: $1,800.00

So far, we've received about $8,500.00 in donations toward the development of WildHelp, plus our pledged support on Kickstarter, which leaves us, about $9,000.00 shy.

Please, please, please back the project on Kickstarter, HERE, if you haven't already, or mail a tax-deductible donation exclusively for WildHelp to:

Wildlife Emergency Services
Box 65, Moss Landing CA 95039

More good news: We'll be beta testing the iOS version in a few days - that's really exciting! Then our development team will put the final touches on it before submitting it to Apple for review.

A HUGE Thank You! to our supporters!
Together, we're going to make this happen!

Cougar cub

According to reports by residents of a neighborhood near Alum Rock, an adult mountain lion was observed crossing Mt. Hamilton from Ridgeview Way at about 6:30 in the morning on October 4th. That weekend, residents found a half-eaten deer and the remains of a domestic cat. Allegedly, on October 9th, a cub was a seen in a backyard off Enchanto Vista.

Not far from there, on October 15th, a cub was found huddled at the base of a rock wall in a residential yard. The homeowner reached out to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (WCSV) for help. Wildlife Emergency Services (WES) was contacted for assistance. 

WCSV and WES collaborate on rescues quite often, with WCSV being the hospital and WES providing assistance with capture and transport, but mountain lions require special authorization by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Mountain lions in California are a “specially protected” species and may not be taken, possessed or transported except under specific circumstances.  New legislation (Senate Bill 132) makes it easier for the Department to collaborate with outside sources, giving it the authority to work with qualified individuals or organizations.

After speaking with the reporting party, WES notified CDFW. 

A warden was on scene quickly, but the cat was gone. 

On October 17th, about a half-mile away, residents reported hearing a loud, frightening growl outside their home one night. 

Two days later, in the morning, the family's dogs started barking at something outside. They checked to see what they were barking at, and found a small, frail-looking lion cub, too weak to escape over a three-foot retaining wall.

Family members used a folding dog pen to confine the cub, then alerted the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

Wardens responded to find the cub still in the dog pen. They transferred it to a carrier and transported it to WCSV .

Photo courtesy of WCSV.

The young lion, estimated to be about 3 months old, was given a thorough examination. The cub was found to be severely dehydrated, anemic, and emaciated, weighing only 5 pounds. It was started on supportive care.

By Monday morning, the little lion was looking much better. It was transferred to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, outside of Sacramento, a few days later.

This recent mountain lion rescue is an excellent example of collaboration between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and local wildlife rescue organizations, resulting in a speedy and proficient response to an orphaned mountain lion cub.

Oct 22, 2013

Another skunk stuck in a fence...

Fattened up for winter, an adult skunk managed to get only its front half through a welded wire fence before getting stuck at the hips. 

On scene, responders found the skunk barely responsive - eyes open "staring into space" - in shock. It had probably struggled through the night.

Wild animals can experience something called exertional or capture myopathy. Its cause and treatment is described very well, HERE.

Responders acted quickly. It took only one snip to free it, but the animal was in serious condition.

Its limp body was pulled from the fence and placed inside a shaded carrier. Using a syringe, rescuers offered the skunk a cold electrolyte solution, but it needed more.

The skunk was delivered to skunk expert, Monique, for further treatment.

Amazingly, that afternoon, the skunk recovered from its ordeal enough to stand and threat-display. After a full day of rest, it could be released.

Check out the video of its rescue:

Oct 17, 2013

Pelican in peril

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Aerial view of where the pelicans have been found tangled in line and kelp.

This afternoon at about 3:00, we received a message from a caller reporting a pelican off West Cliff, in Santa Cruz. She said the pelican was about maybe 50 yards offshore.
"He's been in that water for two hours, by himself, and either he has a broken wing or he's caught in seaweed, or something, but he's not going with the current - he seems to be staying put."
It sounded like another pelican entangled in line and caught on kelp.

There's something about this particular area. This is the 3rd pelican (that we know about) that's gotten tangled in line and kelp off West Cliff. 

The first one, was rescued by two, very brave, surfers (link to story and video). The second one, found earlier this year, was not so fortunate - help did not come in time.

Help arrived too late for this young pelican.
It's very difficult to find help for wildlife in distress offshore, and there wasn't much time left in the day. I asked Jeanne, the reporting party, if she knew any surfers.

She did. She called her friend Niko.

Niko, 43, works an office job by day but is an avid surfer. She loves the ocean and sea life, and is especially fond of pelicans. She'd just gotten off work when she called for more information about the bird.

I made it very clear that we were not asking her to go out into the water to rescue the bird, but, if she did, here's what to expect.
The bird is probably snagged by a hook and tangled in fishing line and snagged on a piece of kelp. As you approach, the bird will probably try to get away from you, and as you get close, it might turn and face you. It might even hiss and strike, so be ready to shield your face with your arm. A pelican's bill has little downward force - no crushing power, but the hook at the tip can definitely break skin.
I was a bit surprised that Niko wasn't as concerned about handling the bird as she was about what to do with it once she had it out of the water. That's confidence for you!

I told her about the bed sheet trick. In emergency situations, when there's no suitable carrier, a sheet can be used as a barrier between the front and rear compartments of a car.

When Niko arrived on scene, the pelican was still there, floating just beyond the break. She donned her wetsuit, slipped a pair of scissors inside the leg of her suit, and headed out. 

As she approached the bird, she maneuvered behind it, causing the bird to paddle toward shore. That's when she saw the line wrapped around its left wing. She used the scissors to cut the line. The bird was free, but so tangled that it could not fly. 

Niko started herding it to shore. 

Once on land, she bundled the pelican into her arms, facing its head behind her, and proceeded up the hillside to her Jeep. 

After placing pelican in the back of the vehicle, she stretched the sheet between the rear doors to keep it confined during transport to Native Animal Rescue (NAR).

At NAR, Niko got to help unwrap the line from the bird's wings. 

On Saturday, the pelican will be transported to seabird specialists, International Bird Rescue, in Cordelia for treatment of the injured wing.


Oct 11, 2013

Wildlife Wise

This is the time of year when young animals are dispersing, venturing out into the world on their own. It is also the leanest time of year, causing animals to forage farther for food and water.

As wild animals navigate through urban landscapes they are exposed to numerous man-made hazards.

Mesh - any kind of woven material, like netting or wire fencing, can be hazardous to wildlife.

Skunk entangled in a backyard batting cage netting.

Gopher snake entangled in a garden netting.

Even wooden fences can be hazardous. Last year, WES rescued a young raccoon with its leg caught in a gap between a wall and a wooden gate (video).

Just last week, an adult raccoon was found hanging from a fence by its leg. It must have been trying to climb over the fence when its foot go stuck in a gap. Its leg was fractured.

This was the second raccoon to get trapped in this exact spot. 

Picture by Patrick Abdo. Story link, HERE.

This type of hazard is easily remedied by shoring up the gap or putting a piece of wood at the top to prevent an animal's limb from falling into the groove.

From rogerwendell.com.

Even birds can get caught between wooden slats. 

Windows are a serious hazard for birds. Check out these valuable pages from Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) that go into detail about what birds see and how you can prevent window strikes. For residential, click HERE, for commercial buildings, click HERE.

Impression on glass after a bird collided head first. Photo by Brian Taylor.

With wildlife on the move this time of year, we're asking that you take a look around your yard for things that could be hazardous to your wild neighbors.

Be wildlife responsible - be wildlife wise!

1) Remove hanging or loose rope, twine, or wire. 

2) Slat or picket fencing: Make sure there's a horizontal rail close to the top.

3) Gaps between fences and walls: Shore them up.

4) Pails, drums, pits. Anything with vertical walls should be covered to prevent entrapping an animal.

5) Rings and things. Pick up any hoops or rings that an animal might get caught in.

6) Windows: Use one or more of the remedies listed HERE or HERE to reduce collisions.

Thanks for doing your part to 
keep your wild neighbors safe!

Oct 9, 2013

Rewilding the world and you

This is an incredible and inspiring talk by George Monbiot. Check it out:

Oct 8, 2013

Cooper's at the Cathedral

Yesterday, we received word of a juvenile Cooper's hawk entrapped inside the parking structure of the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. 

It had first been observed on Sunday, when it was spotted on the third level. There was no way for it to escape unless it went down - something unnatural for a raptor to do.

The bird was not going to find its way out of this labyrinth and waiting for it to weaken would be its demise - it needed to be captured, and soon!

Capturing a hawk inside a building can be very labor intensive. There are only two ways to go about it safely: using a type of baited trap, or large panels of netting - but never chased with nets!

With so few volunteer responders in San Francisco, our response was delayed, but, thankfully two of our lead responders, Mark and Susan, were available Tuesday morning.

Our responders arrived at 9:30. They were joined by Eddie, with Nature Trip, and the couple who first reported the bird. Craig from Golden Gate Raptor Observatory was also on site. He brought a trap designed especially for small hawks.

After a brief meeting, the bal-chatri was set, and, within a few minutes, the hawk was successfully captured.

Mark Russell performed a quick, cursory exam to check for signs of illness or injury and to "feel" its weight. 

The bird was in excellent condition!

Check out the video (below) of the hawk being released just outside of the cathedral:

The hawk perched on a railing.
Photo by Susan McCarthy.


Help us build our volunteer response force in San Francisco.
Sign up to volunteer, HERE, then enroll in our 2014 training HERE

Oct 5, 2013

Barn Owl In A Building

By Rebecca Dmytryk

This afternoon, Susan and Sammarye responded to an emergency call from Alex, with Devcon Constructionabout a barn owl that was trapped in a newly constructed office building in Mountain View. 

The building was an impressive 5 stories! The owl was on the 3rd floor, perched high on some framing in a small, 12-foot area. 

I am so proud of our responders. Instead of rushing in and trying to net the bird, they stood back and took time planning their capture strategy. 

I am so impressed - in plotting out their actions and the bird's possible reaction, in playing out the "What Ifs", they thought BIG. Big and wide and safe.

Using lightweight garden netting, they blocked the owl's escape into the rest of the building - just in case. 

Taking this type of precaution is so important - it can make all the difference, but it usually requires a great deal of extra effort. Alex, Fred and Fidel were extremely supportive and jumped right in to help secure the netting.

Once the fabric was in place, Alex - with his long reach, made the first attempt with a long-handled net. 

He got it, but wasn't prepared for the owl's strength and agility. It slipped under and out of the hoop and took off - right into the garden netting!

When birds hit a wall of netting, they tend to bounce and often drop. The owl dropped to the floor - right in front of an open veranda. Perfect!

The veranda, though, was bordered by glass railing. Instead of flying up and away, the owl bumped into the glass. 

Susan quickly netted it. As she lifted it up, she felt it was in good shape - good weight and strong, so she immediately set it free. Way to go!

A HUGE Thank You!!! to Alex, Fred and Fidel, 
of Devcon Construction. THANK YOU!!!!