Mar 25, 2015

Gull and treble

Yesterday, WES was alerted of a gull at the Santa Cruz municipal wharf with a treble hook and lure caught on its right naris, or nostril. Apparently, the gull had been in this condition for about a week, with attempts to capture it, unsuccessful.

Duane and Rebecca responded and were able to locate the gull but before they could try baiting it in, the bird flew off and couldn't be located again. 

The duo returned the next day and found the gull where it had been reportedly hanging out, along the thin walkway behind Riva's Fish House. The gull had blood stains on its wings - its wrists, where it had obvious caught itself with the treble while grooming.

Before deciding on a method of capture, one must get to know the animal's behavior a little better - how it responds to human presence, if it is interested in food, its rank among conspecifics, that sort of thing.

Fritto crumbles and pieces of baitfish were used to draw the gulls attention - and it worked! The bird readily approached within a couple of feet of the rescuer, with very little care. That meant it could be lured toward a hoop net. It was also a top-ranking Western gull. Even injured as it was, it was well respected among others of its kind. This would make baiting it in even easier.

The team brought in a long handled hoop net, with the hoop and netting carried close at the hip to conceal it and not frighten the gulls. The hoop was set vertically, leaning up against the exterior of the restaurant near where the bird had baited. 

Guests of the restaurant watched curiously, peering through tinted glass as these rescuers lured the gull close. It wasn't 5 seconds after the bait was placed that Duane had it netted.

Back at the rescue vehicle the treble was removed from the bird's bill before being transported to Native Animal Rescue for evaluation and care.

A huge thank you to Melissa for reporting this bird to WES!!!

Grounded falcon

Yesterday afternoon, WES received word of a grounded raptor at Scott Creek. It was described as being black and white with blueish eyes and a hooked bill. The reporting party noticed it on the dunes near the protected plover habitat at Scott Creek.

Responders found the young peregrine falcon. It's eyes were closed, which accounted for the description of it having blue eyes.

The bird was cold and weak and easily captured. 

WES called local peregrine specialist, Glenn Stewart, head of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group, for advice. He suspected avian cholera or avian influenza. 

Since December, there have been several confirmed cases of the highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza HPAI H5 in the Pacific Flyway. Click HERE for details.  

Avian influenza is lethal for falcons within 48 hours of ingestion of an infected bird. 

Check out the rescue video:

The peregrine falcon was placed on heat and transported to Native Animal Rescue where it died shortly thereafter. Its carcass will be shipped to the state Wildlife Investigations Lab for testing.

UPDATE: 4-18-15

The Wildlife Investigations Lab concluded the peregrine died from a serious systemic bacterial infection. There was also a trace of brodifacoum in the liver. 

Mar 16, 2015

WES presents at NWRA

Rebecca Dmytryk, founder and CEO of Wildlife Emergency Services helped to organize a block of presentations on wildlife capture for the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association symposium which was held last week in Princeton, New Jersey.

She opened the session with a talk on the basic principles of wildlife search and rescue, sharing her vast experience and knowledge in the field. 

Her talk was followed by Wildlife Capture Strategies, presented by Peggy Hentz, another of the country's experts in wildlife emergency response.

One of the highlights of Peggy's talk was her demonstration of a net she devised. It collapses to fit through small openings, like storm drain grates, then springs open to collect entrapped animals, like baby ducks.

Peggy's talk was followed by Kris Tamburello, Flight Safety Officer with the US Coast Guard, who volunteered his time and travel to present on Operational Risk Management - a useful tool for first responders.

Dmytryk followed Kris with Tips For Capturing Flighted Birds, followed by Michelle Goodman and husband Ian Gereg who presented a talk on waterfowl rescues.

The series ended with a demonstration of various pieces of capture equipment.

The turnout for this block of talks was, at one point, over 140, which shows there is great interest in the subject of capture. This is excellent, as a majority of wildlife hospitals do not provide rescue and transport, but rely on the finder or other entities. 

Mar 15, 2015

Spring is in the air

Spring is coming! This year, the vernal equinox is on March 20th. Find out all about the equinox and celestial coordinates, click HERE. Mark your calendar to celebrate the real Earth Day.

With the warmer temperatures of spring and summer, the air will be abuzz with insects. For bug lovers, did you know there is an organization - established in 1971, that's focused on invertebrate conservation? It's called the Xerces Society. Have a look, HERE.

Love bumblebees? Click HERE for a brochure on bumblebees, and check out this guide on bumblebee conservation, HERE

Check it out - you can report bumblebee sightings and help researchers keep track of these valuable pollinators, HERE

Happy Spring!

Mar 9, 2015

Yet another skunk in a rat trap!

This morning WES was referred a call about a man in Ben Lomond who had trapped a skunk and wanted it 'removed'.

He was quite distressed as he explained there was a skunk right outside his trailer door, preventing him from leaving his home. It was caught in a rat trap he'd set outside... outside, in the middle of the woods!

Normally, a situation involving a wild animal trapped by a citizen on their own property would be a matter for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife rather than the county animal services.

In this case, though, because the skunk had been unintentionally caught in a device meant for rodents - and there are no regulations restricting placement of snap traps, there wasn't really anything law enforcement could do.

Regardless, the skunk needed rescuing!

WES' Duane Titus responded to the incident.

He found the skunk tethered by a front foot - caught in one of those black plastic heavy-duty snap traps with interlocking teeth.

The skunk was bright, alert and clearly traumatized.

Duane approached and grabbed hold of the skunk as best as one can restrain a biting, squirming, squirting beast, and he quickly freed its paw from the trap.

He placed it in a pet carrier for transport to Monique Lee in Corralitos - she's the area's skunk and bat rehabilitator.

Check out the video below:


UPDATE: The skunk is reportedly doing well and ready to be set free!!! 


Mar 2, 2015

Skunks and Rat Traps

Photo Credit Monique Lee

Yesterday, another skunk was rescued - its paw caught in a rat snap trap. It was a difficult capture under a home where the skunk had burrowed a den under the foundation of the house. Check out the video.

The skunk was taken to local wildlife rehabilitator, Monique Lee, who specializes in skunks and bats. 

Monique has been rehabilitating wild mammals for over 15 years and has seen some truly heartbreaking injuries. One scenario consistently crops up, year after year: skunks caught in snap traps. Spring-loaded rat traps. The newer ones with interlocking jaws are the worst!

Skunks are omnivorous scavengers, relying heavily on their sense of smell to locate food, and their long non-retractable claws to forage. 

Skunks eat rodents, too, bringing them into yards and underneath homes where they can encounter loaded snap traps.

Attracted to the bait, skunks will explore armed traps with their paws. When triggered, the jaws of the trap snap down with pressure designed to break the back of a mouse or rat.

While the initial impact will not kill the skunk, what happens next sets its fate. 

If the skunk is discovered quickly and the trap removed and no bones are broken, it has a good chance for a full recovery, but if it's not rescued in time a skunk can lose its digits, or even its entire paw, as one of Monique's patients did.

Photo Credit Monique Lee

For the majority of skunks Monique has treated with trap injuries, it has meant at least two months of rehabilitative care. Some cases have been worse than others, though.

Photo Credit Monique Lee

In the summer of 2013, a young female skunk had been foraging underneath a hanging bird feeder when a rat trap snapped onto her sensitive nose. The skunk languished for 18 hours before we received the call. We rescued the skunk, promptly removed the trap and delivered her to Monique. After weeks of care, the end result was the loss of the tip of her nose.

Snap traps must not be set where other animals will come into contact with them!

When looking for ways to combat a rat or mouse infestation problem, consider how the animals are getting inside the structure - think exclusion before anything else!

To exclude rodents, seal up holes 1/2" or larger with screen or other material that a rodent won't chew through. 

Large entry points, like a broken vent or missing crawlspace door must be handled differently as there could be a larger animal inside. 

In addition to exclusion, sanitation will be key. 

Most importantly, garbage and recyclables must be secured in rodent-proof containers and a yard should be free of clutter and debris where rodents can shelter. Rodents should be prevented from accessing livestock feed, birds seed, and fruiting trees, too.

For help in excluding pests and protecting your home or yard, WES' Duane Titus and Rebecca Dmytryk can help. They operate a company called Humane Wildlife Control. Humane Wildlife Control can be reached at 855-5-HUMANE (1-855-548-6263). See their brochure, HERE. If you're outside of their service area, HERE is a list  of humane wildlife control service providers in other regions of the country.

Once a structure has been sealed so that no animals can get inside, then and only then should traps be considered. While snap traps can effective, rats and mice can be caught in live cage traps and set free outdoors. If the exclusion work is done right, the rodents will not be able to get back inside.

If snap traps are to be used, however, they must never be placed outside where larger animals can get injured. 

Lastly, poison bait should never be used as it works through the food chain, poisoning hawks, owls, bobcats, foxes, even dogs and cats. 

Photo Credit Monique Lee