Nov 6, 2016
A challenging coyote rescue
Yesterday, a coyote was struck by a vehicle on Highway 101, northbound, in south San Jose. It was reported in the right lanes. At least two people notified local agencies, but none recovered the animal.
This morning, we were notified by one of those parties that the coyote had not been rescued and was still alive, lying in a field up against a wire fence - apparently too badly injured to climb over it.
We immediately initiated a response.
Because it involved a major highway, we'd need Highway Patrol or another agency to assist. Warden Hampton with the Department of Fish and Wildlife made himself available.
We also reached out to our on-call veterinarian, Dr. Chad Alves. He could evaluate the animal's condition in the field, and if the coyote was too badly injured he could euthanize it then and there and save it from the trauma of transport.
We convened in a parking lot just south of where the animal was reported. There, we assembled our capture nets, distributed heavy gloves and went over the rescue plan.
Planning is one of the most critical parts to a successful rescue. Rescuers must plan smartly for the safety of the people involved and the welfare of the animal. We cover this in great detail in our Wildlife Search and Rescue class (register for one of our 2017 classes, HERE) where we practice what's called Operational Risk Management, adapted from the U.S. Coast Guard's training - check it out, HERE.
None of us had driven by to check out the scene, so we based our initial plan on what information we'd received from Robert, the reporting party, who had driven by earlier to confirm the animal was still there and alive. He'd sent a couple of images which helped.
As a team, we looked at the pictures and we went over how we were going to approach the animal and the What Ifs. Then it was time.
Thankfully, Robert had left an orange cone on the shoulder of the freeway to mark where he'd seen the coyote. We pulled onto the shoulder - the rescue truck in front with the Fish and Wildlife vehicle behind us. There, we spotted the coyote - tucked against a wire fence, lying flat - motionless. It didn't look good.
Check out the video of the rescue.
The rescue went smoothly - everyone did an excellent job, but, the animal was in really bad shape. To be sure, we drove to a quiet parking lot nearby where Dr. Alves could sedate him and perform a through examination.
The dog's front right leg was fractured, almost at the joint, and his urine was dark brown, indicating severe internal injuries, or possibly infection, and, there was blood in his stool. He also had an old mouth injury - an oral nasal fistula and missing upper canines, and his jaw appeared out of alignment.
The hole in the roof of his mouth and missing canines was a puzzlement. Was he born without upper canines or did he lose them in the accident that caused the fistula? Had he been shot, or attacked by another animal? He was, otherwise, in excellent body condition with a beautiful coat - how was he able to survive so well?
Due to the combination and severity of his injuries, Dr. Alves believed euthanasia was appropriate. The coyote went peacefully.
Thank you to everyone who helped rescue this poor wild dog!