Dec 29, 2011

A hawk in the house!

In San Jose, homeowners had left their double-wide front doors open, just for a short while, when a large hawk dove after a house sparrow in the courtyard. The hawk snagged the little bird, but the momentum of its dive took it straight inside the foyer of the two-story home. Quickly spooked by its error, the hawk headed upward, dropping the dead sparrow on the stairwell.

One of WildRescue's first responders, Sammarye, was on scene shortly thereafter. By that time, the hawk had ventured into one of the small guest rooms - the door shut behind it. 

The plan was to open the large window in the room for the raptor to escape, but no one knew how easy it would be to pop out the screen. 

Shielding her head and shoulders with a leather jacket, Sammarye slowly entered the room and maneuvered past the hawk, which had settled on the bed. Reaching the window, she quickly raised the venetian blind, slid open the window, and popped out the screen frame with ease. She then used the jacket to block the stationary glass pane, so the bird wouldn't fly into it, and waited for the hawk to make its way out - which it did, in short order.

Way to go!!!

Dec 25, 2011

Christmas Goose

A single Canada goose has been hanging out at the Northern section of Elkhorn Slough near Hudson's Landing. He or she has been observed there, on and off, for about a week. 

Being seen alone and remaining in one area for an extended period of time is cause for concern. On closer inspection, the goose appears 'disheveled' and in a weakened state, but not so that it's making for an easy catch. 

WildRescue's directors, Rebecca and Duane, made a couple of tries for the bird over the last few days, but no luck. They will make another attempt Christmas morning.

UPDATE: 12-25-11

We got the goose! At about 8:15 we successfully captured him or her! Yay! Thanks to Ron Eby for helping out! It will be transported to SPCA for Monterey County later this morning.

Dec 23, 2011

Book release!

We're very excited to announce the release of Rebecca Dmytryk's book, Wildlife Search and Rescue, a Guide for First Responders. It was set to be published in the United Kingdom today, December 23rd, and will be published in the United States in the coming months. More from the author:

This book has been a long held aspiration of mine - something I wanted and needed to do for years. I am thrilled to finally have it finished. (I am sure my publisher is, too.)

The book outlines the fundamental principles of wildlife rescue operations and details numerous capture techniques, with an emphasis on human safety and the welfare of the animal. 

I believe the information in the book will help save lives by bettering the skills of responders. I also hope it will be a catalyst for change - for improving the way wildlife casualties are responded to, especially in the United States.

I don't think of this book as the absolute word - the be-all end-all - not by any means. I see it as a living document that will be added to as years go on and we develop new and better ways of aiding wildlife.

Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who supported me in this endeavor, especially my husband, Duane.

You can find the book for sale at Amazon by clicking this link, HERE

Dec 18, 2011


Ron Eby with goose after very successful capture.

This morning - Duane and Rebecca met up with Sammarye, Deb, and Ron at Shoreline Park in Mountain View to search for crippled geese. Surprisingly, there were numerous  geese sporting old injuries. One goose was missing an eye, others had various wing and leg issues.

We located the one that Sammarye and Mary initially responded to last week. It looked as though its limp had improved, so we decided to leave it alone.

We also found the other goose with droopy wings and disheveled appearance. We decided to try after him. Here is Ron's account of the rescue:

First thought was we were dealing with 'park geese' that were likely accustomed to being fed by people. Feeding the group quickly confirmed this.

By taking the time to study the behavior of the birds, we confirmed the target bird wanted to feed, but was wary of the other geese. It was attacked and harassed each time it approached to feed.

At that point, I felt we could entice it close if we could bait it in away from the main group.

I moved away from the group towards the target goose as Rebecca continued to distract the other geese. When the target goose had a clear shot to me, I extended my hand and it responded immediately. I did not throw bait, which would have attracted other geese, but rather just held it in my hand where the target goose could see it.  

Fortunately, it was able to approach without being harassed. It was quite hungry and much more afraid of the other geese than me. I continued to feed it, just small bits and sometimes an empty hand just to keep it focused. 

Even though it appeared to be within reach, I resisted the urge to grab it. Instead, I worked on a strategy that offered a better chance of success. 

With Duane standing nearby, motionless and facing away, I felt I could manipulate the bird's body to within reach for a safe body-grab. When I thought the bird was comfortable feeding from my hand, I started to move it over, keeping its head facing me so it wouldn't notice Duane as he began to move.

With the goose entirely focused on my hand, even grabbing my thumb, Duane was able to capture it with a body-grab, covering the wings, while I secured the bird's head. 

The capture was completed without a single honk and without alerting the other geese, and it was done without using a net that would have made future captures more difficult. 

My point isn't that this is the most effective method, but that by considering the environment, observing how the birds react, making a plan, being patient, and most importantly working as a team, you enhance not only the chances of a successful capture, but do it in the least disruptive manner to the target and other nearby birds.

Looking forward to future successes.


Wild goose pursuits

This week, we received a number of calls about Canada geese with foot and leg injuries. They have been spotted at various locations in Santa Clara County. 

Flighted geese are not easy to capture - they are keenly observant and quite smart. It takes a great deal of planning, patience, and sometimes a huge production to successfully capture one.

Today, Sunday, a team from WildRescue will be out and about in Santa Clara, hoping to locate and successfully capture at least one of them. Wish us luck!!!

Dec 17, 2011

Injured bobcat

Yesterday afternoon, WildRescue received a call from the Santa Cruz Animal Control. They had a bobcat that needed help. It was found by the side of the road, unconscious, but was now coming around - inside a pet carrier, thankfully!

We made calls to nearby rehabilitators, but received no response. We then called our colleagues at Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, in San Jose, and they were more than willing to receive the injured feline.

The next task was to find someone to make the 40-mile journey, and quickly. Sammarye, one of our long-time volunteers, was up for the drive. Here's her account:

When I arrived at the shelter, the animal was in a small covered crate. As I carried it to my car it was totally quiet and I felt no movement. When I put the crate on the ground to open my car door, I lifted the edge of the cover to see if it was still alive. It weakly lifted its head and two beautiful golden eyes briefly met mine. I felt like I had looked into its soul.

I drove over the hill toward San Jose, hoping the bobcat would hang on to life. When I arrived at WCSV, there was one technician who had waited after closing for me to get there. 

While she prepared for the exam, I lifted the nearly lifeless bobcat out of the crate and put it on the table. I was horrified to see how emaciated and dehydrated the poor thing was. Just fur and bones, but so beautiful, so perfect just as Nature made it. I imagined it running wild and free, but it lay limply, breathing very shallow, not moving at all.

With long heavy gloves on my hands, I held it on the table, staying alert in case it had a burst of adrenalin-driven energy. We placed an IV to hydrate it, then Traci performed an examination. There were no signs of it being hit by a car, or being shot or attacked by another animal.

I held onto it as the fluids dripped in. In about ten minutes, it began breathing more normally and it started moving a bit. We placed it in a warm bed with lots of padding. 

Bobcat after initial treatment at WCSV in San Jose.
When I left, it was sitting up, but with its head hanging down. It did not look good. I wondered if it would make it through the night. 

I also wondered, since there was no sign of trauma, was it diseased or could it have been poisoned? Animals that eat mice and rats that have been poisoned can also become ill and die. - Sammarey Lewis

MANY MANY THANKS to the kind people who found and reported the bobcat - and THANK YOU Santa Cruz Animal Control for contacting WildRescue. A HUGE THANK YOU to Sammarye for her quick response, and of course, THANK YOU!!!!, Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for your expert care of this poor creature.

Dec 16, 2011

Fibromatosis in deer

A concerned Santa Cruz resident emailed us a photograph of a deer they had seen in their yard. It appeared alert and active, but had large growths - skin tumors - draping from its body in various locations. 

Here's a link that provides lots of good information on this condition. 

Dec 10, 2011

Huge THANK YOU to North Berkeley BART

We'd like to acknowledge North Berkeley BART officials for their prompt action to reduce raptor casualties at their station.

Historically, small bird-eating hawks, like Coopers and sharp-shinned, would mistakenly fly inside the open building after prey, where they would become disoriented. Instinctively, looking to escape, they would fly upward, to what they perceived to be the sky, only to become trapped inside the glass 'top dome' of the station.

Thanks to Lisa Owens Viani, Development Director for Golden Gate Audubon Society and  WildRescue responder, for bringing this to the attention of BART officials. Thanks, also, to Rachel Whitman for documenting the last victim (shown here), and the resulting changes made to the station (below) to prevent such casualties.

As this photograph shows, netting now prevents birds from flying up into the dome.


Dec 4, 2011


We had a great turnout at our fundraiser yesterday at the Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco! Many thanks to everyone who showed up to support our efforts!

The program started just after 1:00 pm with a presentation of The Year In Rescues, which was a look back, through video and pictures, of the many wild animals rescued over the last 12 months.

It concluded with an awards ceremony, where individuals received Certificates of Recognition for their role in helping a wild animal. 

A few people received  the Purple Cape Award, honoring great acts of heroism. Only one Purple Cape recipient was present and able to receive his award. Dave Cogswell was honored for braving the silty bottom and shoulder-deep waters of the pond at the Palace of Fine Arts to save a young owlet from drowning. 

After the show, guests were treated to wild hibiscus champagne cocktails and an elegant display of hors d'oeuvres amid a fine selection of silent auction items. 


After the event, in WildRescue fashion, responders, Winnie, Kelle, Duane, and Rebecca, set out in search of a reportedly injured female wood duck at Lloyd Lake. By the time they arrived and met with the RP, it was quite dark. Even so, they managed to find the duck, sitting on a log in the lake. After a few valiant tries, they lost sight of her and decided to call it a night and try again in the morning.

Nov 19, 2011

Cooper's Hawk rescue...

Today, Duane and Rebecca responded to a call about a Cooper's hawk that was stuck inside the large printing warehouse of the Wall Street Journal in Mountain View, CA. 

The bird was likely pursuing a small bird when it traveled into a loading dock before entering the cavernous building.

In the back, where the lights are on, the ceiling extends another
20' or so making it especially difficult to reach, or to flush out.

Thankfully, it was a Saturday and the web press was not in use - the facility was dark and quiet. One of the paper's longtime employees, Mitch, helped out with a forklift to get Duane high enough to reach the ceiling with a long-handled net. Confused in the darkness, the bird fell softly into the bag of the net.

Frightened, but in good shape, the hawk was immediately set free.

Nov 12, 2011

A new chapter in wildlife rehabilitation

WildRescue's director, Rebecca Dmytryk, spent the last few days at the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she gave a presentation on reuniting raptors. 

Rebecca was part of a seven-member panel of experts invited to speak and participate in a newly formed working group being sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). 

The group, spearheaded by veteran wildlife rehabilitator, Anne Miller, is hoping to make the process of reuniting of healthy wild babies an essential element of wildlife rehabilitation - not simply an option, but an obligation.

Nov 7, 2011

Entrapped Red-Shouldered Hawk RESCUED

It was first discovered Thursday - a young red shouldered hawk trapped inside a firetruck bay.

WildRescue was alerted Friday afternoon. On Saturday, one of our capture teams tried unsuccessfully to lure the bird to a trap. Finally, Sunday, the bird was captured and transported by WildRescue to Peninsula Humane Society.
After a couple of days under observation and treatment for dehydration, a WildRescue responder drove the hawk back to Half Moon Bay where it as released by Firefighter Bob. Check out the video below.

A huge Thank You! to PHS Wildlife Center staff for their quick and expert care of the hawk! 

Nov 5, 2011

Loss of a friend and colleague...

The world has lost a great human being - a kind, brilliant, smart-witted man who dedicated his life to the conservation of gibbons - the gangly, long-limbed arboreal apes of Southeast Asia - all endangered.

For those unfamiliar with his work, please visit the Gibbon Conservation Center web site.

Funeral services will be held at Groman Eden Mortuary, 11500 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills, on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, at 10am.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Gibbon Conservation Center for its continued success.

Alan Richard Mootnick, 1951-2011
A Savior of Endangered Apes  

Alan Richard Mootnick—one of the world’s foremost specialists and conservationists of gibbons—passed away on Friday, November 4, 2011, from complications following heart surgery.  He was 60 years old.

 Mootnick founded the non-profit Gibbon Conservation Center (GCC) in Santa Clarita, CA, in 1976, with the purpose to prevent the extinction of gibbons—small Southeast Asian apes—and to advance the study, propagation, and conservation of the species.
What started as a childhood fascination with gibbons developed into an important sanctuary, housing the largest gathering of endangered apes in the Western Hemisphere.  Completely self-taught in primatology, Mootnick was one of a team responsible for the identification and naming of the highly endangered Hoolock Gibbon.  

He published more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals and offered advice to zoos, government agencies, veterinary universities, and gibbon rescue centers throughout the world.  

Mootnick and his work touched countless individuals and institutions.  Hundreds of school children and students visit the Gibbon Conservation Center yearly, and the general public enjoys the annual “Breakfast With the Gibbons” fundraiser. 

Known for an eccentric style—gray-spotted beard, constant suspenders, and dry sense of humor—Mootnick was a person not easily forgotten... 

Nov 4, 2011

Red-Tailed Hawk Release

The red-tailed hawk that had been shot with a framing nail was returned to the wild on Wednesday. She had been in care at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for about 10 days, undergoing treatment for her wound. 

The bird was returned to her home grounds at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens where she was captured on October 22. WildRescue's Director recounts the release:

It was an incredible release event - it could not have gone any better, and there are many people to thank for this. The Botanical Garden staff were wonderful. The Director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory went out of his way to be on hand to ring the bird with a federal identifying marker - a metal leg band. Her band number is 1957-02561.

We were also really honored to have Lieutenant Brown from the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control join us - his agency is continuing the investigation into the crime. We were also very pleased to have Phil Ginsburg, General Manager of San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, who joined Lt. Brown in setting the hawk free.

After the door was opened, she hesitated a bit before taking off, landing in a tree just above a group of school chldren. She stayed in the tree for almost 20 minutes, much to the delight of the visitors and media.

While her behavior - her seeming indifference towards humans, might otherwise be cause for concern, this particular, individual bird seems to have adjusted to living around humans. This is just the way she is. Let's hope her acceptance of humans does not get her into more trouble.

We would like to keep track of her. Please feel free to report confirmed sightings to rescue (at) wildrescue (dot) org.

Oct 30, 2011

Continuing education

Deanna practicing gavage on a deceased grebe.
One of WildRescue's lead responders, Deanna Barth, attended an intensive, two-day course - Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation, offered by International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. The class was held last weekend in Salinas.

While Deanna has been a veterinary assistant for 13 years, which came in handy during the workshop, she picked up some new skills that she can apply as a wildlife paramedic and wildlife SAR technician.

WildRescue will be offering Wildlife Search & Rescue training in beginning January, 2012. Click HERE for a flyer with upcoming dates and locations. Feel free to download and post it.

Click HERE to register for a training.

Oct 29, 2011

Entrapped hawks

This week we had two emergencies involving hawks that were trapped inside manmade structures. Unfortunately, it's not THAT uncommon a situation.

Accipiters, like the Cooper's hawk, can wind up inside buildings during their pursuit of small birds. Once inside, they instinctively head upward - often to the highest peak possible. Windows and skylights disorient and confuse the birds even further.

In some situations, it's possible for a hawk to find its way out - but it's very risky to delay a rescue. These high strung birds cannot last long - a few days, at the most, until they have exhausted themselves by flying around, looking for a way out, hitting against the ceiling and against panes of glass.

We lost a bird to this earlier in the week - a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk. 

The bird was first observed Monday afternoon at the North Berkeley BART Station. It was perched high up, in the tallest part of the building - a glass dome where the temperature during the day can become very high. 

Sadly, by the time a team of rescuers arrived, it was weak and in bad shape. It did not survive.

A second hawk - a juvenile Cooper's hawk, wound up inside the Whisman Sport Center gymnasium in Mountain View, CA, with a 45' high ceiling!

It was first observed Tuesday. We were alerted Thursday. No other entity in the area was able to respond - and we were only able to make the hour-long trek Friday morning. 

We knew the bird would be hungry and the best way to catch the bird would be to lure it into a trap. We set a spring-loaded box trap and a bal-chatri. We'd no more turned our backs after setting the devices, when he dove in.

This was our first time using this trap, but it worked pretty well. We need to make a few modifications, but it felt good to put the contraption to good use. You see, it was once used to trap and kill raptors. Authorities confiscated it as evidence - part of a sting operation. It was donated to WildRescue this year.

The hawk was driven immediately to the Peninsula Humane Society Wildlife Center, just down the street, where it received immediate care for dehydration. It was in good shape and was set free the next morning.

The doves employed in this operation have been adopted into a forever-home where they can live out their lives in a large aviary. Please read our live animal policy below:
When attempting to rescue a wild animal that can only be captured using live bait as a lure, we face a secondary dilemma - how to employ the service of a live animal while maintaining the same concern for its welfare as we do for the animal we intend to capture. Below is WildRescue's policy on use of live animals in trapping exercises. 
1) During trapping exercises, WildRescue will employ the service of animals that are maintained in forever-homes. 
2) These animals, birds and small mammals, will be: a) personal pets; b) individuals that were spared euthanasia through a rehabilitation center; either because they are handicapped or nonnative - such as starlings, eurasian doves, pigeons, domestic or wild rats. 
3) Service periods will be limited - no individual animal will be placed in service two days in a row. 
4) During exercises, when not in service, animals will be provided adequate housing with appropriate food and water available at all times. 
5) All precautions will be taken to ensure animals are not physically harmed. If one is accidentally injured,it will be provided immediate medical attention.

We value any constructive feedback on our policies and procedures. 

Update on the 'nailed' hawk

Photo courtesy of Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley
Courtesy WCSV

We've had word from the wildlife hospital that the hawk is reportedly doing well - thin, but very, very alert and active. 

The nail that had been lodged in her head for nearly two weeks was found in the transport carrier - it came loose and dropped out during transit. Every once in a while during the drive to the hospital we heard a thump as she made an attempt to escape her padded carrier.

Photo courtesy of WCSV
We believe she sprang up and bumped the nail on the top of the carrier, dislodging it. There was no sign of additional trauma - no bleeding, thankfully. Since it had been about 2 weeks, the body encapsulated the foreign object, much like what happened with Pinky, the wild turkey that was shot through with an arrow. Read the story of his capture and recovery HERE.

The investigation into this act of cruelty is ongoing, being led by US Fish & Wildlife Service and the San Francisco Animal Care and Control.

Photo courtesy of WCSV

Radiographs and blood work revealed her to be in good shape. On Friday, she was moved to an outdoor flight enclosure so she can strengthen her flight muscles in preparation for release back to the wild, which is slated for Wednesday, November 2nd.


Check out WCSV's web site HERE.