Aug 28, 2014

GBHE in trouble

Photo by Kim Moore.
A great blue heron at El Dorado Park in Long Beach awaits rescue. The injury to its foot from fishing line, has gotten worse and worse over the last few weeks. WES will attempt a rescue this Sunday.

Photo by Kim Moore.

Aug 23, 2014

Poolside rescue in Los Gatos

Last night, late, we received a report of water bird, poolside, at a residence in Los Gatos. Photographs from the reporting party revealed it was a cormorant.

Cormorants are not able to fly from a standing position - they take flight by scuttling across the water - looking as though they're walking on water as they gain elevation.

Cormorants, loons, and grebes get stuck when they land in a body of water that doesn't allow them enough room to take flight. 

After a rain, these species can be found grounded on dark paved roads, having mistaken the reflective surface of the asphalt for water (Ouch!).

The next morning, the resident confirmed the bird was still in her yard. The Bear Family accepted the call.

Andrew Bear, his wife Charlotte, and son Benjamin have signed up as WES volunteer First Responders. 

Andrew has a tremendous amount of experience with wildlife capture and handling techniques as he also volunteers at the WIldlife Center of Silicon Valley, and he's teaching his family how to rescue animals.

Here's their report from the field:
When we arrived, the cormorant was standing at the pool's edge. As I approached, it jumped into the pool.
I wanted to try to capture it on land, so I got in the pool to pressure it out of the water. 
As planned, it jumped out and ran into a corner of the backyard. 
I jumped out of the pool and got within inches of netting the bird, but he slipped by me and back into the water. 
I decided to up our chances of catching it on land, and took the few minutes to set up a length of bird netting, creating a wall of net. If the bird went back into that same corner of the yard, which was likely, Charlotte and Benjamin could lift up the wall of netting and we'd have him contained.

I went back into the pool and was able to get the cormorant to hop back out.  
I was going to try and pressure him towards the area where we had the net set up, but noticed he was allowing me to get pretty close. 
I was handed the net and positioned it where I thought he would jump into the water. As predicted, he made for the water and I netted him as he dove!


Aug 17, 2014

Raccoon rescued from metal drain cover

By Rebecca Dmytryk

For transport, the raccoon was placed in an open pet carrier with the metal plate securely tied to a wooden frame.

This morning, we were contacted by Officer Montes with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter - he had a difficult rescue at hand. 

An adult raccoon had managed to get its head stuck in a metal drain cover. The sheet of diamond steel was about 3' long and maybe 2 1/2' wide and 3/8" thick. 

Evidently, the raccoon had tried to come up through one of the holes cut out of the steel plate. 

Residents woke to find the cover upturned and the raccoon struggling to free itself. They immediately called for help.

On scene, Officer Montes used soapy water to try and ease the animal's head back out of the hole, with no luck. 

If the animal was going to be saved, the metal would have to be cut. 

The raccoon was carefully loaded into the animal control truck and transported to the shelter where its fate would be decided.

Knowing WES specializes in difficult wildlife rescues, Officer Montes reached out to us for help.

Duane and I happened to be close by, headed for breakfast. We pulled off the freeway to hit the Home Depot for a few tools, and arrived at the shelter in less than 30 minutes. 

The animal had been placed in a quiet exam room, on the floor, with various items keeping the metal plate from crushing it. 

The raccoon appeared fairly calm - tired, but otherwise in excellent physical condition. The abrasions around its neck were superficial - if we could get if free from the metal plate, it could be released come nightfall. But, it needed to be sedated for the extraction. 

To date, we have found no veterinarians in the Santa Cruz area, willing to treat adult wild mammals like raccoons and bobcats. Because of this, salvageable animals face euthanasia.


It was Sunday. Highway 17 was jammed with beach goers. We would have to transport the animal over the hill to meet WES' field veterinarian, Dr. Chad Alves.

We placed the body of the raccoon in the bottom half of a pet carrier and secured the metal plate to a wooden frame so it wouldn't slide during transport.

Fifty minutes later, Duane made the first cut into the metal, using a grinder. Wet pillowcases shielded the raccoon from any sparks, and water was used to keep the metal wet and cool. (Don't miss the awesome video, below.)

It took just over thirty minutes and nearly every bit of battery power to cut through the thick steel plate.

Once the animal was free, Dr. Alves performed an examination and treated its wounds. As he was finishing the exam, the raccoon was starting to come around. 

The raccoon was placed inside a pet carrier and provided grapes, watermelon and a bowl of water. By nightfall, it should be ready to be released.

Throughout the day, the animal snacked on fruit and napped off the sedative.

At dusk, we transported the animal back home. We walked the carrier to a wooded hillside and placed it down facing a culvert where we were told it frequents. Duane opened the cage door... 

I have never seen a raccoon gallop so fast! Slappity-slappity-slappity-slappity, its leather soles of its feet hit the pavement as it shot towards the trees, banking right at the culvert and it was gone from sight.


Wildlife Emergency Services is a small, all-volunteer program - we have no paid staff, no salaried employees. We rely on contributions to cover fuel, equipment, supplies and insurance. Please, help ensure our ability to continue providing our valuable services by making a contribution. Thank you so much!

Make checks payable to W.E.S. PO Box 65 Moss Landing, CA 95039

Check out the rescue video:

Aug 16, 2014

Return to freedom

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Last night, the Byington bobcat (his story, HERE) was released back into its domain at the winery after spending 7 weeks in rehabilitative care at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

We want to thank Byington Winery for providing our guests with an opportunity to taste their delicious wines during a fundraising reception for WES and WCSV, held prior to the release. 

It is events like these that help our two charitable organizations continue providing wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services to the community.

A huge THANK YOU! to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley and Adobe Animal Hospital for bringing this gorgeous animal back to life!

In case you missed the event and would like to support WES with a donation, click the Donate button below. Thank you!

Aug 3, 2014

Downtown woodpecker

By Rebecca Dmytryk

It was late in the afternoon when we got a call about an acorn woodpecker entrapped in the underground parking structure of 50 West San Fernando, in downtown San Jose. The address was familiar - we'd been there before for an entrapped bird...

Duane and I just happened to be in the area, so we responded.

According to Mike, the security guard who reported the bird in trouble, the bird was first spotted yesterday.

When Duane and I arrived, the bird was perched on a pipe up against a wall. 

Instead of grabbing a net and chasing after it, we needed to test its behavior to see how it would react to approach. 

It may seem counter productive to "push" a bird from it's resting spot, but in situations like this - where you have a flighted bird in an enclosed space, this information is critical to a successful capture strategy.

Mike said the bird seemed to gravitate to this one particular area - where it was perched. By walking close to the bird, we gently pressured it to move off. Indeed, it quickly returned to that same area.

A few minutes later, it flew to the ground and began picking at crumbs. It was hungry. Good.

Believing the bird would land in that general area again, and seeing that it was hungry and comfortable landing on the ground for food, Duane and I set up a drop trap. 

With the trap set, I would try to encourage the bird back to that area, hoping it would be attracted to the seeds and grain and apple bits underneath.

I walked the parking garage, applying pressure for the bird to move on. Surprisingly, the bird allowed me fairly close before it would fly... but not close enough to get it with a net... too many obstacles.

After about 5 minutes of gently "pushing" the bird from various pipes and landings, the woodpecker settled on the ground, in a corner (Yes!) and was intent on pecking at something it took for food.

Just in case it allowed me close enough, I grabbed a long-handled hoop net. 

These birds are very sensitive to movement - I needed to be sure the bag, or sock, of my net was not hanging down  - it needed to be taught. 

I began my stealthy approach toward the bird. Left fingertips pulling the bag tight over the net's handle. Right hand gripping as far back on the pole as possible for the greatest reach.

Cat-like, moving ever so slowly - freezing whenever the bird's eyes were on me, inching closer when it looked away.

I knew my moment would be when the bird's head is turned and it's focused on that bit on the ground... wait.

Heart racing, breathing accelerated.

Finally, it turned and started raking its bill on the ground. That was it.

I lunged. The bird popped up and over the hoop, I repositioned the hoop in front of it - in the direction I knew it would travel  - and bagged the bird! Yes!


As I processed the now-screaming woodpecker from the netting, Mike brought over the carrier so we could safely shuttle it up the stairs to freedom.

Check out the video of its release:


Aug 1, 2014

Goose Deuce

Andrew Bear is one of WES' newer First Responders. He joined WES earlier this year after completing our Wildlife Search and Rescue training. Andrew's pretty much up for anything - he's helped in a Western screech owl reunion, and he's become quite the goose wrangler. 

Here is his story of two recent goose rescues. 

On July 26th, late in the afternoon, I received an email from a Vasona Park ranger that there was a Canada goose with fishing line wrapped around its leg. It was reportedly near the boat rental dock. 

I had met this ranger, and several others, earlier in the year when I'd spotted another Canada with an infected and swollen foot. I and was able to capture it quickly while the ranger observed. I gave this ranger several business cards from Emergency Wildlife Services and encouraged him to report injured wildlife to WES.

I arrived at the dock later in the evening, and there were no Canada geese nearby. I decided to go a little further along the bank of the reservoir, where I have seen them gather before. 

As I stood there looking at the flock with my binoculars, two geese came ashore from the water directly in front of me: one limping with fishing net embedded in its leg!

The Canada goose allowed me to get fairly close…within about six feet, but not closer. I didn’t want the goose to fly away, so when the goose looked about to fly off, I backed off. 

I took out some bird seed mix I had in a baggy in my pocket and scattered some near my feet. As some of the birds became interested in my offerings, I ever so slowly unfolded a bed sheet and held it around my waist like a skirt. 

The injured goose pecked at the bird seed, but stayed about six feet away, no closer. 

I decided to be patient, and so we did this dance: me scattering bird seed to attract the goose, the goose watching me warily until I was a comfortable distance away, then eating the seed.  

We did this dance for nearly 40 minutes.

Then, at one point, the injured goose was positioned between me and some bushes that would not allow the goose much take off room. 

I waited for that moment - for the bird to put its head down.

The goose looked down and began eating the seed - I threw the sheet over him/her, then grabbed the sheet-wrapped goose in a way that stabilized its wings against my body.


I transported the goose the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (a few minutes before closing time—thank you staff!), where they were able to cut the line off the goose’s leg and treat its wound. It would remain at the wildlife hospital until its leg was completely healed.

The next morning I received another email from the Vasona Park ranger, saying that the goose that was spotted with fishing line around its leg is still there, that I must have caught another Canada goose with fishing line around it’s leg! 

I returned to Vasona Park, went to the flock just past the boat rental dock again, and immediately saw a goose limping. As I got closer, I saw a much larger amount of fishing line around its leg.

This goose was not putting any weight on its left leg.  

I had my bag of seed and sheet with me, as usual. As I took out the seed, geese raced from all over, honking with wings spread out, with much excitement. 

As the flock was in the throes of excitement, I was able to maneuver into positions was close to the injured goose, and captured him/her quickly. 

Back to the wildlife center!

UPDATE: 8-15-2014

Both geese rescued by Andrew made full recoveries and were released today, back where they were captured. Check out the great video below.




If you want to help cover the cost of gas or supplies or support our 
field response capabilities, consider making a donation of any size.

Thank you!!!

If you'd like to become a volunteer First Responder like Andrew, sign up HERE.