Sep 3, 2011

Darted ducks in Santa Clara

On Wednesday, August 31st, WildRescue assumed the lead in efforts to rescue ducks that had been found shot with illegal blowgun darts near an apartment complex in Santa Clara.
According to property managers, there were 4, possibly even 5 different ducks found shot recently.

One duck, recovered by property managers on August 25th, the week before, had been shot 5 times. It died from its injuries after being pulled from the water. Santa Clara Animal Control has since launched an investigation into these acts of animal cruelty.

Meanwhile, WildRescue’s volunteer responders began developing a capture plan, one that avoided use of a net or netting, as this could get tangled on the dart and cause further injury to the bird’s face.

When our rescue team arrived on scene, they found the duck to be extremely skittish of their equipment. They found out that it been heavily pursued by well intentioned people with nets for two days prior. The plan, then, was to get the bird comfortable with the capture gear over the next couple of days.

Once captured, the duck would be transported to Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley for care. The darts would be handed over to the Santa Clara Police.

Not only is this a case of animal cruelty, but blowguns are illegal in California. Under California Penal Code Section 12582, anyone found in possession of a blowgun or blowgun ammunition is guilty of a misdemeanor. Since this crime involves a wild bird, the person responsible could face federal charges under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as well as waterfowl violations under state game regulations.

At around 10:00 am on Friday, a rogue animal rescuer from the San Jose area showed up at the apartment complex and used the facility's large salmon net to go after the injured duck, claiming she was trained and permitted to do so.

She did end up capturing the darted animal, along with another duck - two panicking heavy-bodied and powerful birds in one net together - one with a barb through its face!

As predicted, the dart became entangled in the mesh and was jerked out during the capture.
The good news is that the bird is in the hands of experts at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley and being treated. We recognize the citizen was acting on good intentions, however, this reckless act could have ended tragically, and we caution the public to not take things into their own hands when it comes to injured wild animals, but to call upon authorities first.

Inasmuch as we rely on the proficiency of EMS (Emergency Medical Services) responders to treat human accident victims, so must we understand there are as valuable skills and training required of those who respond to injured wildlife.

As for the investigation into whom darted the birds, thanks to a very generous pledge from one of our supporters, WildRescue is able to offer a 5,000.00 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Sightings of additional darted animals or other information can be reported HERE. Anyone with information on the crime is urged to contact the Santa Clara Police at 408-615-4816 or leave an anonymous tip at

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