Dec 29, 2012

History of Wildlife Rehabilitation Part II

According to Jay Holcomb, current director of International Bird Rescue, the major oil spills off California's coast in 1969 and 1971 were significant milestones in the history of wildlife rehabilitation in the United States. 
What happened was, these spills brought like-minded people together - people who were concerned about wildlife and interested in learning how to care for the animals.
As urban sprawl encroached deeper into wild habitats, more and more people were coming into contact with wildlife and finding animals in distress. The Save The Whales campaign marked a significant shift in consciousness that influenced wildlife rehabilitation - instead of seeing wild animals remain in captivity after their convalescence, the public wanted them set free.

After the 1971 Standard Oil Spill,
a small group of kindred spirits who had worked together during the spillincluding Gary Bogue, Paul Maxwell and Alice Berkner, joined forces to establish an association for those interested in caring for wildlife - a resource for rehabilitators to share their knowledge and receive information on current techniques.

You see, at that time, there were no standards for the rehabilitation of wildlife - most practiced in isolation, with techniques based mostly on trial and error. So, in 1972, the Bay Area Wildlife Rehabilitation Council was formed.

According to Paul Maxwell, former executive director for the Louise A. Boyd Natural Science Museum, i
t was an informal but serious group of organizations focused on advancing the emerging field of wildlife rehabilitation.

At about the same times as the council was forming,
 the Louise A. Boyd Natural Science Museum in San Rafael was experiencing growing pangs. Much like the Alexander Lindsey Museum, they were admitting more and more wild patients each year, including seals and sea lions. Animal curator for the museum, Lloyd Smalley, soon realized their wild patients, especially the marine mammals, needed more than what the museum could provide.

After leaving the museum in 1973, Smalley joined up with
Paul Maxwell, and Patricia Ariagoni, who had been on the museum's Board of Trustees for seven years. Together, these three paved the way for the establishment of a marine mammal facility in the Marin Headlands. The California Marine Mammal Center, later named The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC), opened its doors officially 1975.

The facility was established at a former Nike Missile site.

With very little funding, it was the dedication of the Center's volunteers that helped keep the program running - offering up their own cars as rescue vehicles, and adding change to an old coffee can set aside for gas money.

Peigin Barrett 
began volunteering in 1978. In a recent phone conversation, Peigin recalled the early days and the hardships they had to overcome.
The organization was basically penniless, but everyone rallied together to keep it going. Each weekend we'd  sell donated items at the local flea market so we could get by, and we did.

Pen and ink drawing by Peigin Barrett.
Prints were sold to raise money for repairs and improvements.
In 1982, Peigin became the chief executive, but at great personal sacrifice. To make ends meet she held two other jobs - at a bookstore in the evenings, and as caregiver to a retired general on the weekends. 

Through the tough times, it was love, she said, that got her through - the love that the people had for the animals.

It wasn't a cutesy type of love, it was a fire of love, and I was lit on fire - that kept me going.

The passion of this early group was the magnet that, over time, brought more people and more funds. Inspired by the Center's work, Charlie Stone and a few others from McPhail's Building Supply and Ghilotti Brothers chipped in to build the first seal pen enclosures.

By 1984, the Center was "in the black" for the first time.

A recent image of The Marine Mammal Center.
Today, TMMC is considered one of the largest marine mammal rehabilitation programs in the world. Keep watch HERE for a book on the center's history, The Marine Mammal Center, How It All Began, by Patricia Arrigoni!

After graduating high school in 1969, Jay Holcomb started working at the Marin Humane Society (MHS). The shelter received its share of injured, ill, and orphaned wild animals. Having a strong interest in wildlife, and some experience in hand-rearing orphans as a teen, Holcomb started caring for some species at his home (which was common practice in those days), others were transferred to the 
Boyd Natural Science Museum which was then under a new name - the Marin Museum of Natural Science.

In 1975, while maintaining his full-time job at MHS, Holcomb started working at the Museum's wildlife center every Sunday. There, his passion for wildlife grew, exponentially, as did his skills as a rehabilitator. A few years later he was hired full-time.

Interested in networking with other rehabilitators, Holcomb started attending meetings held by the newly formed 
Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. Through these get-togethers, he became acquainted with other Bay Area wildlife enthusiasts, including Alice Berkner...

History of Wildlife Rehabilitation Part III

Dec 28, 2012

Perceiving Jizz

One of our lead responders, Deanna Barth, experienced a breakthrough moment this week - she experienced an awareness - a heightened perception, common among great birders. It's the ability to recognize, accurately identify, and discern the condition of a living thing based on its jizz.

First written about in 1922 by ornithologist Thomas A. Coward in Bird Haunts and Nature Memories, jizz is a term used to describe the essence of a living thing - the "impression" of an organism. Not its color, shape, size, or carriage, but all of those things and more, including an animal's state of health, which is what rescuers key on. As Coward put it, it is character rather than characteristics, the tout ensemble of the subject.

Here's Deanna's story of what happened:

Today, I experienced something amazing - a moment when I "just knew" there was something wrong with an animal even though I couldn't say exactly what it was. Rebecca and Duane talk about this in their wildlife rescue training classes, but I hadn't experienced it until today. 
I was on my way to check for injured pelicans on 
Old Fisherman's Wharf when I briefly glanced over at the beach 
near the entrance to the pier. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a gull in the sand, and in a flash I knew something was wrong.

I walked closer and could see other gulls perched on rocks nearby, but this one was resting alone, facing away from the water, and it just had a "look" about it. Something just wasn't right.

I had fish fillets and a bed sheet in case I found a pelican that needed to be captured, so I went back to my vehicle for Fritos and a net, instead.

I walked down onto the little beach where the bird was, and tossed a handful of crumbled Fritos. The gull slowly stood up on one leg and hobbled towards me, holding its left foot out. Pitiful.

I routinely see gulls with leg injuries, and if they seem like they've adapted to the impairment and are otherwise thriving, I leave them be. I'm not sure if there was something else going on besides the leg injury, but this particular gull did not appear to be doing well. He baited-in quickly and was easy to capture. I drove him to the SPCA for Monterey County Wildlife Center for care.

Next month, it will be two years since I met Duane and Rebecca and started volunteering  with WildRescue, and I finally feel like some of the things you just can't teach - the things one has to learn by doing (over and over) - are happening.

Dec 22, 2012

The Gift

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Yesterday's press release from Fish and Game regarding the two mountain lion cubs killed by wardens in Half Moon Bay on December 1st, HERE, sparked more criticism and outrage from citizens.

What people need to realize is that for a first responder, be it a sheriff, firefighter, or game warden, their number one priority is public safety. The wardens did what they believed had to be done to protect the public.

Right or wrong, there is a greater issue here.

At this time, California does not allow rehabilitation of mountain lions - they must either be killed or placed into captivity - even though successful rehabilitation is possible and has been conducted elsewhere in the country.

This is where we need to focus our energy - on developing rehabilitation guidelines, and, eventually, constructing a facility specifically for the rehabilitation and re-wilding of cougars.

This work must be done so when something like this happens again, when there are sub-adult cubs that need a little more time to grow up before they're on their own, there will be a suitable place for them to receive the care they need, and then one day, when they're ready, we can give them the greatest gift of all - their freedom.

PAWS Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr. John Huckabee does an excellent job at describing the feeling of losing a wild animal to captivity in The Gift I Cannot Give, HERE. Enjoy.

Dec 20, 2012

Owl Snagged On Barbed Wire Fence

Photo courtesy Wildlife Center Silicon Valley

Early Wednesday afternoon, we received an emergency call about an owl caught on a barbed wire fence near Santa Teresa County Park, south of San Jose, CA.

Just minutes after sending out an alert to our volunteer responders, we received a callback from Valerie Baldwin. Valerie has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation for more than 25 years and specializes in raptors. She currently volunteers with the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley (WCSV) and is part of their Raptor Team. 

Before heading out the door, Valerie thought to put in a call to her friend Lee Pauser, who lives near the park and could be on scene more quickly than she.

Lee has been involved with Audubon's Cavity Nester's Recovery Program since 2002 after retiring from IBM. He monitors and maintains hundreds of bird nest boxes along trails in Southern Santa Clara County and works with WCSV on wild-fostering and renesting healthy cavity nesters during 'baby season'. Lee had just finished installing a few new nest boxes when Valerie called.

Meanwhile, Andy, who initially spotted the owl along the Calero Creek Trail, was willing to go back to the location and keep watch until a rescuer arrived. He brought along his daughter, Rhianna, who ended up being a great help during the rescue.

Andy and daughter, Rhianna. Rhianna helped support the bird with a tree branch.

The owl was snagged on a barb. It probably happened in flight, as the bird was flying over the fence. It was hooked on the patagium - the membrane of skin that extends from a bird's shoulder to its wrist. To keep weight off the wing, Rhianna held a branch up to the owl's feet so it could stand.

Lee takes a closer look while Rhianna keep weight off the wing.
Once on scene, Lee quickly assessed the situation and, with the help of Andy, Rhiana, and Omar, a cyclist who stopped to help, they attempted to free the bird from the barb, but no luck. It was really embedded. The only way to free the bird was to cut the wire.

Once freed, the owl was placed into a cardboard box and immediately transported to the 

It took quite a bit of effort, but the barb was finally extracted. Once the wound were cleaned, veterinarians examined the wing and, thankfully, there were no broken bones. According to Rehabilitation Supervisor, Ashley Kinney, the owl was rescued just in time! 

Photo courtesy Wildlife Center Silicon Valley

With luck, the owl will recover quickly so it can be returned home soon. It's the start of breeding season for great horned owls. They don't build their own nests, but take previously used nests of other species, so, they have to get an early start on things. By now, many have paired up and are looking for suitable sites.

UPDATE: 12-21-12

According to WCSV, the owl's condition is still Guarded, but the wing is looking much better and the swelling is down. They will begin the owl on
 physical therapy to prevent its wing from 'freezing'.

UPDATE: 1-4-13

We received word today from WCSV that the GHOW is doing amazingly well. The dime-sized wound on his patagium is healing and they are starting to wean him off pain medications and wound treatment. Apparently, the owl is very feisty!

UPDATE: 2-12-13

Yesterday, after 8 weeks in care at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, the GHOW was finally strong enough to be moved outside to the hospital's 50' aviary where it will build up flight strength for its release in a couple of weeks.

According to caregivers, they have to don helmets and goggles when they enter the enclosure, as the owl is very feisty and wants out badly!

Many, many thanks to the wildlife rehabilitation staff at WCSV and to the Adobe Animal Hospital for mending this beautiful bird!

Dec 18, 2012

Fortunate Red-Tailed Hawk

Late yesterday, we were referred a call from the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter about a large raptor on the deck of a beachfront home in Aptos, CA. Apparently, the bird had struck the glass windbreak, and it appeared stunned and confused.

One our local responders, Marsha, was very quick to respond.

Although the bird appeared alert when she arrived, and its wings seemed undamaged, it was immediately transported to Native Animal Rescue for evaluation.

With nothing more than a slight abrasion on the tip of its elbow, the following day it was returned to the bluff and released.


This bird was really lucky to have survived an impact with glass. Many do not. Please, click HERE to learn more about the hazards of glass panes, and find out what you can do to make your home or office safer for birds.

Dec 14, 2012

Campaign for Change

WildRescue's director, Rebecca Dmytryk, was quick to launch an appeal to the California Department of Fish and Game after the fatal shooting of two mountain lion cubs by game wardens in Half Moon Bay on December 1st.

The petition, HERE, asking the Department to consider changes to its mountain lion policies, has received just over 800 signatures, so far, and support from over 35 licensed wildlife rehabilitators from around the state.

The care of young or infirm mountain lions, with their subsequent return to the wild, is currently prohibited in California. There are, however, a few states that operate successful rehabilitation programs.

The White Oak Conservation Center in Florida, for example, operates a panther rehabilitation program in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. Check out the story of one of the compound's recent graduate, HERE.

[White Oak Conservation Center]

This type of collaborative effort is what Dmytryk and others envision for California.
It's time we put rehabilitation on the table as an option, instead of just euthanasia or captivity. It's not like it's impossible, we've just got to want it badly enough - collectively, as a society, and I think we're there. We're asking officials to work with us in exploring the possibility.
Hoping to pave the way for rehabilitation of cougars in California, Dmytryk has reached out to fellow wildlife rehabilitators and mountain lion experts throughout the country, inviting them to participate in developing criteria. These guidelines will include minimum requirements for a cougar compound exclusively for the big cats.

Mountain lions undergoing rehabilitation must be kept isolated from people. In time, Dmytryk hopes to see construction of a compound on a remote piece of property.

I believe, if we build it, they will come. If we have rehabilitation guidelines, trained personnel, and the facility in place, we will be in a much better position to negotiate for mountain lion rehabilitation in the future. 

The petition can be found HERE.

Inquiries or offers of help can be made HERE.

Dec 11, 2012


Yesterday, we received a call from a woman in Santa Cruz, reporting a young raccoon with its leg caught in the crook of a tree.

Lead responder, Duane Titus, arrived on scene quickly. After a considerable amount of effort, he was able to free the animal's limb. The raccoon was transported to Native Animal Rescue for treatment.

This latest tree-snagged raccoon is the third for the year!!! Interestingly, each involved a similar species of non-native tree and 'teenage' raccoon.

Dec 7, 2012

2013 Wildlife Rescue Training Schedule

Each year, WildRescue provides training opportunities for those interested in helping wild animals found in distress. We offer basic training for the novice and new volunteers, and advanced training on specific skills for the more experienced.

Beginning in January, we'll be offering a new set of classes.

Our Wildlife Search and Rescue training has added hands-on exercises, and we have added an ancillary field workshop to give students the experience of actually looking for and capturing injured animals.

Also new for 2013, we are offering an introductory oiled bird search and rescue class. Oil-compromised birds present a unique set of challenges for first responders. Students will learn how to judge the degree of oiling and what it means for the bird's survival, and how to best plan for its capture and transport. This is highly recommended for those who might come across oiled birds in the course of their duties.

We're also excited to announce our very first Reuniting Wildlife workshop! Wild animals stand the greatest chance of surviving as adults if they are raised by wild parents. Unfortunately, however, every 'baby season' an extraordinary number of healthy babies wind up in shelters or wildlife hospitals. 

There is a desperate need for volunteers to help get the babies back to the wild, and that's where this exclusive training comes in. This class is ideal for anyone willing to be available during spring and summer to volunteer their services.

Check out and download the flyer, HERE. To sign up for a class, click HERE.

Dec 6, 2012

Loon Rescue

This week, we received a call from a resident near Kelly Lake, just outside of Watsonville, reporting a gull-sized bird that had made its way to the family's back porch. When responders arrived, they found a loon with a large fishing hook through its neck, trailing a heavy lead weight. The loon was captured and delivered to Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz. check out the video below.

Dec 4, 2012

Mountain Lion Cubs Shot

By Rebecca Dmytryk / Wildlife Emergency Services

Sign the petition, HERE.

One of the young cubs killed December 1st.
It is our understanding that at dusk on Friday, November 30th, two sibling mountain lion cubs, between 5 and 9 months of age, were observed hiding, together, on the 800 block of Correas Street in Half Moon Bay, just a few yards away from expansive open space and wild land.

The next evening - Saturday, December 1, the pair was spotted again, together, and this time in someone's backyard. Perhaps the cubs were stranded, unable to get back across the creek due to flooding. Was the mother still alive? Was there a chance she stowed them in the vicinity and they were waiting for her return? Were they simply starving and desperate?

The cubs when they were hiding.

It is unclear what transpired next, but the cubs were shot and killed by game wardens, with public safety being cited as the main reason.

While public safety must come first, in situations involving potentially orphaned young we believe every available resource must be utilized and every non-lethal option exhausted before resorting to lethal control. 

Without a doubt, these were young of the year that were still dependent on their mother. Perhaps the mother had been killed and the cubs were struggling to survive - this would account for them being thin, as cubs stay with their mothers up to about 2 years. 

As for their described behavior, allowing humans to approach - this is not unusual for motherless, starving, or otherwise desperate young.

These weren't kittens, though, these were older cubs, and because of this we do not feel they would have been suited for life in captivity, but, we do believe they were excellent candidates for rehabilitation.

They were old enough to have an innate fear of humans, and imprinting would not have been an issue. During rehabilitation, they would have received aversion training, making them even less likely to approach humans - ever.

Unfortunately, in California, the rehabilitation of mountain lions is not allowed - the same way black bear rehabilitation was prohibited years ago, and now we have at least one center licensed for black bear. This incident highlights the need for California to have at least one facility for the rehabilitation of mountain lions under certain, very specific situations - such as this.

Please join us in an appeal, HERE, to the California Department of Fish and Game to review current policies regarding mountain lions and consider broadening them to encourage communication and collaboration between wardens and outside wildlife specialists before lethal control is used, if and whenever possible, and, additionally, to consider the possibility of licensing at least one mountain lion rehabilitation facility in California. 

Dec 3, 2012


It was pouring down rain when we received a call from a resident in Hollister, CA. The homeowner had trapped a striped skunk that had been in his yard for almost a week - neighborhood dogs had chased it through his side gate.

We advised the caller that we're prohibited from taking the skunk away, too far, but that we would be happy to come get the animal out of his yard and release it within the vicinity come nightfall. It took some convincing, but in the end he agreed.

The poor skunk had been inside the cage trap since about 1:00 AM - completely exposed to the elements. It was cold, wet and frightened. Rescuers transferred the gentle animal into a pet carrier and provided it a nice meal of gopher with sliced pear.

Hours later, under the protective cover of darkness, it was released back into its home neighborhood where it immediately scampered across the street and under a fence. It knew right where it was... home.

Dec 2, 2012

Doing Good

Deanna and Kaia Barth with their awards for their excellent service on behalf of wildlife
At last night's presentation of The Year In Rescues, 6-year old Kaia Barth was honored with an award for her significant acts of compassion and ongoing dedication to helping the environment and wildlife.

It's no surprise to hear, then, that her mom, Deanna Barth, was the recipient of this year's Purple Cape Award for her outstanding achievements in Wildlife Search and Rescue. This year, Deanna rescued more than a dozen injured pelicans and Canada geese, and traveled in excess of 1,000 miles delivering them to various wildlife hospitals for treatment. Bravo, Deanna!!!

Many thanks to Santa Clara County Parks for use of their facility for our event.

Don't miss the encore presentation of The Year In Rescues on December 15th at the Elkhorn Yacht Club in Moss Landing. The presentation will begin promptly at 5:00 PM. Guests will be treated to warm apple cider and holiday cookies.

Nov 30, 2012

Peregrine Update

UPDATE 11-26-12

Today, experts at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley confirmed the falcon was shot. The projectile, likely a pellet, entered the chest and exited out the back. The bird is currently in stable condition and holding its wings tightly against its body - a good sign! The California Department of Fish and Game has been notified.

UPDATE 11-29-12

Unfortunately, radiographs revealed two fractures in the shoulder. The bird would never fly again and, if kept alive, it would be in pain for the rest of its life. It was euthanized earlier today.

The California Department of Fish and Game (Wildlife) is leading an investigation, hoping to find who shot the bird. Meanwhile, through generous pledges and donations, WildRescue is able to post a reward of $1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for shooting the falcon. They can report anonymously through CalTip at 1-888-334-2258. Pledges to increase the reward amount should be sent to Donations can be made HERE.

Nov 29, 2012

Pelican in the Mountains

This morning we received a report of a brown pelican in the backyard of a home on Skyland Ridge, at about 2000' elevation. According to residents, the bird had been walking around their patio for a while - it may have been there all night. 

Duane and Rebecca responded. When they arrived, the bird was very down, suffering from hypothermia. It was placed on heat for the ride to the nearest wildlife hospital, Native Animal Rescue, in Santa Cruz.

There, it received intensive care, but that just wasn't enough. The pelican was too far gone - it was in too weakened a state - thin and exhausted.

Finding a bird so far from shore and so debilitated raises a few questions. We often see pelicans in odd locations when they are starving or when they are suffering from domoic acid poisoning. We'd had some severe weather, but was that enough to blow it off course? 

Many thanks to the reporting party and, as always, to Native Animal Rescue for being there to receive another critical patient.

Nov 23, 2012

American Peregrine

It was around 8 o'clock in the evening on Thanksgiving Day, when residents of a rural home in Watsonville heard rustling in a planter box outside. After all of their pets were accounted for, the young men of the family went to investigate and found a small raptor, unable to fly. Instinctively, they got a large towel, covered the bird completely, and carefully placed it into a cardboard cat carrier.

At about 8:00 AM this morning, WildRescue received an emergency page about the injured bird. A photo confirmed it to be an American peregrine falcon.

The peregrine falcon is a crow-sized predatory raptor found on nearly every continent. It is the fastest bird on the planet, attaining speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour in a stoop dive (video of these magnificent flyers, here).

The young male falcon was transported to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose. There it would receive a radiograph to determine the extent of its injuries and if it was, indeed, shot.

Upon admission the wound was cleaned, the bird was given pain medication and a dose of antibiotics. Check out the video(below) of its initial exam.

Should X-rays confirm the bird was shot, authorities will be contacted.

In the 1960's, peregrine falcon populations in the U.S. were in rapid decline due to the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). Peregrines were all but eliminated from the eastern U.S. and in the West, populations were reduced by 80 to 90 percent.

First synthesized in 1874, DDT was once considered a safe and effective insecticide, and was in wide use - worldwide - in the 40s and 50s. Although it was banned in 1972, residual amounts of DDT can be found in the environment.

Like all organochlorines, DDT is highly persistant, bioaccumulating and increasing in concentration as it moves up the food Chain. Apex predator species, like the brown pelican, bald eagle, and peregrine falcon, receive the most concentrated doses.

In birds of prey, waterfowl, and songbirds, DDT causes eggshell thinning, resulting in reproductive failure. This is what caused the rapid decline in the peregrines population in the 60's. In 1970, the peregrine falcon was the first to be listed on the federal Endangered Species List.

Thanks to collaborative recovery efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, Tom Cade and the Peregrine Fund, Midwestern Peregrine Falcon Restoration Project, and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research, the American peregrine falcon population rebounded (read more about these efforts, HERE). In 1999, it was federally delisted, though remains an Endangered Species in certain states.

UPDATE 11-26-12

Today, experts at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley confirmed the falcon was shot. The projectile, likely a pellet, entered the chest and exited out the back. The bird is currently in stable condition and holding its wings tightly against its body - a good sign! The California Department of Fish and Game has been notified.
UPDATE 11-29-12

Unfortunately, radiographs revealed two fractures in the shoulder. The bird would never fly again and, if kept alive it would be in pain for the rest of its life. It was euthanized earlier today.

The California Department of Fish and Game (Wildlife) is continuing an investigation, hoping to find who shot the bird. Meanwhile, through generous pledges and donations, WildRescue is able to post a reward of $1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for shooting the falcon. They can report anonymously through CalTip at 1-888-334-2258. Pledges to increase the reward amount should be sent to

Nov 18, 2012

Reunite Wildlife!

Barn owls returned to their palm tree nest.
Young wild animals stand the best chance of living normal lives and surviving as adults if they are raised by wild parents, as opposed to being raised by rehabilitators in a captive environment.
From wild parents, young learn what to eat, where to forage, how to hunt, what to fear, where to shelter. They learn valuable social skills, in some cases their own dialect, and they are allowed time to disperse naturally into their home territory.
No human, no rehabilitation program - not even the best in the world, will ever be a fitting substitute.  ~ Rebecca Dmytryk

Anne Miller presenting on reuniting young raptors.
This week, WildRescue's Rebecca Dmytryk presented at the California Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators' symposium, held at Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite. She was accompanied by Anne Miller, founder of Reunite Wildlife, for a two-hour presentation focused on the benefits of reuniting.

The program, attended by 75 participants including representatives from the California Department of Fish and Game, was aimed at empowering rehabilitators to practice reuniting.

Every 'baby season' wildlife hospitals are inundated with 'orphans' - many of which are healthy and should never have been picked up. Some need to be returned to where they were found, others might need a lift back into their original nests, others might need to have their nests totally retrofitted.

A replacement nest made from a laundry basket.
Either way, reuniting baby animals takes time and is best carried out by a dedicated team of resourceful volunteers - something many wildlife hospitals say they can't spare. Each year, then, a significant number of healthy babies are raised in captivity, a paradigm Dmytryk and other advocates of reuniting hope to see change in coming years.

Dmytryk's years of hands-on experience has earned her recognition as a leading authority on reuniting wildlife. She has joined up with other leaders in the field to develop guidelines to encourage more and more rehabilitators to adopt the practice.
If we know being raised by wild parents is what's best, then reuniting has got to be part of every rehabilitation program. It mustn't be viewed as an option, but an obligation.
Next March, the group plans to speak at the National Association for Wildlife Rehabilitators.

Also at the conference, Dmytryk was acknowledged 
with a certificate in recognition of her 31 years of service in the field of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

Nov 14, 2012

Another Day At The Beach

By Deanna Barth

With rain in the forecast for Friday, I decided to do my rounds today, instead. This time I started at the Monterey Coast Guard Pier. As I searched the area, I picked up several pieces of loose fishing line but saw no pelicans.

Next, I drove toward the Municipal Wharf and was pleased to see 30+ pelicans diving for fish, just a few yards off Del Monte Beach. I stood on the beach, mesmorized by the powerful splashing as they each dove into the water. They all appeared to be healthy.

I walked along the pier and around the wharf and didn't see a single pelican.

My next stop was Fisherman’s Wharf, where I'd been finding most of the injured pelicans lately.

As expected, there were a number of young pelicans gathered near the fish cleaning stations, 
resting on the railings and on the docks. I was really pleased, every one of them looked fantastic. No bite wounds or hooks or line entanglements.

I put my bag back over my shoulder, preparing to leave, when I heard the whooshing of a pelican landing behind me.

I turned to look… and cringed. There on the railing was a pelican, balancing on its left leg and having difficulty remaining upright. Fishing line draping over its back and a silver weight dangling behind him, glistening in the sun.

I quickly put my bag down, pulled out my fish, and approached slowly. Thankfully this bird was eager for a meal and lunged for my hand. It was easy to grab.

I transported him to the SPCA wildlife center where staff noted at least 4 hooks and line entangling this poor bird.

I left, knowing he was in excellent hands.  (Thanks Evan!)

On my way home, I decided to take a detour. Earlier in the week I had seen a pelican at Moss Landing that concerned me. It showed classic signs of domoic acid toxicity. It was sitting awkwardly, weaving its head back and forth, and appeared confused, but when it saw me approaching it became frantic and flew to the water. I tried baiting it, but no luck - it showed no interest in food.

When I arrived, I was shocked at the number of pelicans on the breakwater! It was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack, I thought. 

Starting at the very end of the jetty, I began scanning each bird, looking for unusual behavior. I didn’t have to look long before spotting a very obvious bird in trouble. It was an adult pelican, like the one I'd seen days before, and it was hunkered down in the sand facing away from the water. It looked wet and appeared very weak.

Based on the bird's behavior and body posture, I decided less would be more. No need for bait or even a net.

The poor bird only opened its eyes every so often to see if I was still around. I waited, and when its eyes closed I walked away to position myself directly behind it and hopefully out of its line of sight. Then I waited. 

The pelican opened its eyes again, turned its head slowly, and when it seemed sure that I was gone it settled again.

I began to close in on the bird. When I was just about on top of it, it saw me and made a feeble attempt to snap at my arms. As I scooped it up, it barely had any strength to resist. It was wet, cold, and covered in lice. 

Back at the vehicle I placed the pelican in a crate, placed warming packs around its cold body and draped a sheet over it to help bring up its temperature. Usually, with adult wild animals, we need to keep our transport vehicles cool, but for this one, I had to have the heater on for the 25-mile journey back to the wildlife center. 

I called the wildlife center the following morning to see if it survived the night. It had, but its temperature was still below normal.


Nov 13, 2012


by Rebecca Dmytryk

It was about 7:30 PM when we heard some intermittent rustling noises coming from inside the wall next to our patio door. The cats were mesmerized, but Duane and I thought nothing of it - it was probably a rat or mouse - nothing alarming or unusual, as we live in an older house in the country.

The next morning, however, we could still hear sounds emanating from the wall, but now the noises were more frequent and repetitive. After listening closely to the pattern, we decided it sounded like a small animal jumping up and landing, again and again. The animal must be stuck.

We brought out the borescope for a closer inspection, and sure enough, we saw hair and whiskers - a little mouse was trapped in the wall... and it was not the first to be entombed. The scope also revealed twisted skeletal remains of other rodents to fall into this pocket.

To the rescue! Duane cut a hole in the wall. I donned gloves and started fishing around in the pocket.

At first, I didn't feel anything warm and furry and alive. The mouse had burrowed under the dry carcasses to hide. I pulled out about a dozen mummified corpse before reaching the animal. Once in the palm of my hand, I raised the mouse to safety. It was a female deer mouse.

The mouse looked in good shape, even though it had been trapped in the wall for a good 12 hours - and, that night the temperature outside dropped into the thirties. 

We placed the little mouse into a container with a large towel for it to hide in. We also provider her a tiny platter of food - seeds, fruits and veggies - a banquet.

We released her just outside that evening.

Mummified remains of rodents found inside the wall.

I think our experience can be a lesson for everyone. When you hear sounds in a wall, pay special attention to the time of day and duration, and listen closely for any pattern that might indicate an animal is trapped.

Nov 7, 2012

Rehabilitator Receives Royal Recognition

Trevor Weeks, founder of East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service was recently honored with a Medal of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of his work, helping injured wildlife since the mid 1990s.
"I am glad I have proven so many people wrong about where I was going with my life and voluntary work,I might be poor but I am so much happier as a result."  

Congratulations, Trevor!!!!

Trevor should be celebrating, but it seems he's working harder than ever to raise emergency funds. After an exceptionally busy year, WRAS is in dire need of financial aid. Read Trevor's appeal letter, HERE. 

Please, please, consider supporting WRAS with a donation or gift from their Amazon Wish List