Jul 28, 2014

The shapely skunk

This morning, WES was called to respond to a skunk trapped in a fence - she was stuck between a wooden fence and a chain-link fencing. 

There was only one way out - through a gap in the wooden fence, but the adult skunk couldn't quite manage her way through... she kept getting stuck at the hips. 

Finally, she made it... 

WES has responded to quite a few emergencies involving skunks caught in fences - always caught at the hip. We have even been called to extract a carcass of a skunk that died, caught in a gap between a wooden fence and a wall. 

So, check your yard and patch any ground-level gaps that are 3" or smaller to prevent traveling skunks from getting stuck.

The skunks wide skull also gets stuck in objects, like plastic lids and food container - most infamously, Yoplait's original vercon-shaped cup, which has killed countless wild animals in the past 35 years.

If you haven't yet signed our petition, please do so now, HERE.

Jul 25, 2014

Baby Skunk v T-Rex

Another juvenile skunk was found caught by a T-Rex. 

The Trapper T-Rex is one of the newer rat traps, known for its "teeth" and "ferocious" grip. 

The force behind these spring-loaded snap traps are meant to kill mice and rats quickly and the interlocking "teeth" make escape nearly impossible... for any animal.

Today, we received a call from a resident of Soquel - she saw a skunk walk through her yard dragging, what she described as, a cow bell.

We knew right away what it was. 

Last year, we rescued a poor skunk that had gotten the tip of her snout caught. She eventually lost her nose. Read her story, HERE.

After searching the premises, we finally found it hidden in a drainage area. Check out the video of its rescue, below.

The skunk was transported to skunk expert, Monique, where it is recovering. 

While it is not illegal to place rat or mouse traps outdoors, there should be a warning to consumers about the risk snap traps pose to other animals - cats, dogs, and wildlife. We will be contacting Bell Laboratories, makers of this type of mechanical trap and asking them to add some cautionary language on packaging and promotional material.

Jul 19, 2014

Skunks in a storm drain

This morning we received a call about two skunks that were trapped in a storm drain in Santa Cruz. The reporting party said she'd heard them in the night.

Duane and Rebecca arrived to find the skunks partially submerged in water.

One was in good shape, the other appeared a bit worse off, suffering from hypothermia.

A cage was prepared. Instant reusable heat packs (Thank you donors!) were placed inside a pillow case on the floor of the cage.

Instant reusable heat packs. Thank you donors for sending us these!!!

Using a long-handled dip net, Duane scooped up the coldest skunk and placed it inside the carrier. 

The second one was a bit more lively.

With both animals contained, their condition could be evaluated.

The liveliest one immediately started to dig at the grates to get free. It was released immediately on site.

The second one was given time to warm up.

After about 30 minutes, its shivering had subsided and it, too, was digging at the sides of the cage to get out.

After consulting with local skunk expert, Monique, the skunk was set free on site. It loped off, following the path of the first skunk, behind a wall, through a rose garden, and under a fence.

Home free.

Check out the heartwarming video:

Help us continue serving the community by making a donation, today. 

Thank you!

Jul 15, 2014

Hollister Rescue Team

One of our long-time volunteers and Lead Responder, Deanna Barth, is now heading up wildlife emergency response in her hometown of Hollister, California. Calls originate through WES' emergency number (831) 429-2323 or from an agency, and then forwarded to Deanna - at least that's how it's supposed to go...

Many in the town of Hollister are familiar with Deanna and her knowledge and skills with dogs and cats, and now wildlife. Often she'll be contacted for help by friends or neighbors.

Below, Deanna tells of two recent rescues:
Last night, a friend of mine called about a message she'd received from another neighbor. They'd found two mourning doves in the front yard of a newly sold home. I was asked to take a look.

The doves had built a shallow nest on top of a column. Neighbors had tried to place the babies back in the nest but they kept leaping out. As expected - they were fledglings, not nestlings and were not about to stay put!  
It was about 8:30 PM. There were no adult birds in sight, but plenty of cats!
Normally, we instruct people to leave fledglings on low branches or under a bush and not to separate them from their parents - even if there are cats in the area.

In this case, however, with at least two cats fixated on the young ones, I opted to take them in for the night.
I placed them inside a box with a Snap heat pack to one side and kept them in an isolated room - warm, dark, quiet. 
Early the next morning, just after sunrise, I returned to the nest site and was happy to see several adult mourning doves in the vicinity - more importantly, no cats!   
I placed the fledglings in a bush beneath the nest and they immediately fluttered up to the top of the fence. I watched from a distance for a few minutes. All was well. 
A few hours later I checked the location again and was thrilled to see one adult dove on the rooftop and another on the fence directly above the side yard. When I peeked over the fence where I had last seen the fledglings, there they were, resting on the ground.   
I left a note for the new homeowners, letting them know that the doves had been returned to their yard and to please leave them be. Their best chance of survival is to be raised by their wild parents.   
That evening, I was alerted of a possibly injured egret in Hollister. 
The homeowner had noticed the bird in her backyard around noon. When it was still there several hours later, she became concerned, but was unsure who to call.   
By the time I was notified, it was 9:30 PM.   

When I arrived on scene, the homeowner escorted me through the backyard. The bird was obviously ill; facing the corner and in a hunched position. 
It didn’t look like the bird would put up much of a fight, but I’ve learned not to assume a rescue will be easy, so, I put on my safety glasses just in case.   
I walked around the perimeter of the yard to determine what the bird’s exit points would be when I approached it. Luckily, it had chosen a perfect location for capture.   

I took a large dark sheet and approached the bird slowly, from behind. It made a feeble attempt to move left and I scooped it up rather easily.   
I felt, immediately, how thin and weak this bird was. I placed it in an animal crate with a heating pad so it could rest comfortably over night.   
The next morning it was transferred to the SPCA for Monterey Wildlife Center. 
Thank you to the homeowner, Kathleen Diekmann, for showing such care and concern for the egret!

 UPDATE: 7-19-14

SPCAMC Wildlife Center staff informed us that the  great egret was, indeed, emaciated. Other than some bruising on its back, it did not have any significant injuries. The bird was placed on a special diet and once strong enough, it will be transferred to International Bird Rescue for further care. If all goes well, it will be released!

If you'd like to volunteer to help with rescues in Hollister, CA, please contact Deanna.

Jul 9, 2014

Deep, deep trouble

By Rebecca Dmytryk

This afternoon we received a call from Joshua Francis, Construction Project Manager at the University of California Santa Cruz. He's overseeing a renovation project at Merrill College. 

Earlier in the day, there had been some sort of commotion around one of the large drilled holes - holes that were to be filled with iron rods and cement. An adult raccoon kept venturing onto the site near one of the pits. Apparently, two juvenile raccoons had fallen in and were trapped.

At first the young raccoons were active and chattering, but as the day went on they huddled close and became silent. Joshua, an animal lover, threw a thick rope down into the deep hole, hoping the young raccoons would climb out. Then, he reached out for help and was referred to WES.

It was close to 6:00 PM when Duane and I arrived on scene. The construction crew had left for the day, so the site was quiet. 

Joshua showed us the hole and how it had not been adequately covered or blocked off to prevent animals from falling in - something he's committed to improving on future construction projects.

The pit was about 35' deep and about 3' wide. To complicate matters, the floor of the pit was not flat - the drill left a bit of a depression on one side - a nice spot for the cubs to hide.

We didn't have exactly the piece of equipment ideal for this situation, but we had the makings for one. We decided to try a few other methods first...

Duane rigged a collapsable-spring-loaded fabric bag that could be triggered to pop-up manually, entrapping the little ones inside... but we could not maneuver them into it. Next, we lowered a bal-chatri, hoping we might get lucky and snare a limb. Nope. Duane tried a noose, and got close a few times, but, no luck.

At one point, the mother showed up! She approached close, so we backed her away to a redwood tree where she watched and waited for some time.

It was getting dark when we called the Santa Cruz Fire Department University Station to see if they might have some ideas or some sort of contraption, or maybe a way to get someone inside the hole. 

Captain Graff, Joel Dimauro and Daniel Vaggioli were there within minutes. While they were very keen on helping us, there was little they could do. 

Because it was such a deep hole, it was considered a "confined space", which meant there were special requirements for anyone entering. Because it was an earthen hole that could collapse, it would have to be reenforced... 

So, no one was going to be going into the hole. 

We would have to make do with what we had to work with.

That said, one of the firemen helped us rig a specialized net. The aim was to replace the shallow sock with a deeper sock made (sadly) from one of our expensive panels of material meant for our Coda Net Launcher... the material was perfect for this application.

When capturing an animal with any type of netting, you want to consider its purpose. In most cases, like when netting a bird, you want to do the least amount of harm to its feathers, so you must select the smallest mesh where the bird will not become entangled. In other cases, like this one, we needed the mesh to be large enough where the animal's head and limbs would get caught and tangled.

After painstakingly cable-tying the netting to the hoop we lowered it into the pit. We controlled the metal hoop with one rope, and the mesh bag with string. It was like working a marionette... from 30' above!

I controlled the net's position at the base of the hole, while Duane encouraged the cubs to move out of their hiding spots and under the net using a metal rod on the end of a rope. Joshua continued to supply us with light from our 2-plus-pound flashlight that he'd been holding for at least 2 hours.

Within about 15 minutes, we had one of the cubs under the hoop. Loosening up on the string holding the netting material - letting it fall on top of the cub, and with a couple of pokes from Duane, the cub started to panic and get tangled in the fabric - just what we wanted. When we were confident the cub was securely inside the sock, we quickly pulled it up to the surface.

Once we started untangling the baby from the net, it started crying, which drew the mother. 

Once out of the net, we placed the baby inside an animal carrier to assess its condition. Cold and a bit dehydrated, it was in good shape, especially considering the fall it had taken. 

As we lowered the net to capture the sibling, the mother raccoon approached the carrier and the two chattered back and forth.

It wasn't long before we had the second cub. This time,  the cub walked on top of the net. We had to release all tension on the material and drive the cub into the sock. It worked!

Both cubs looked to be in good shape, so we decided to reunite them with their mom, right away. Duane opened the carrier door while I released the second cub. After a moment of chaos, the family was reunited and off on their way through campus. It was about 9:30 PM.

Snippets from the rescue:


Thank you to Santa Cruz Fire Department for assisting with the rescue!!

Thank you to Roger "Pops" Titus for helping document the rescue!

WES is an all-volunteer-run organization supported solely by donations.

Jul 8, 2014

The eaglet landed...

Photo courtesy ESWC.

On July 1st, locals of the June Lake area (CA) watched as one of two older, bald eagle chicks, doing a lot of flapping in its nest, fell - hung upside down holding onto a branch with one foot, then fell through tree limbs to the ground below. 

Photo courtesy ESWC.

A rescue team from Eastern Sierra Wildlife Rescue responded, collected the "brancher", and took it back to the clinic for a thorough examination.

With no apparent injuries, except a possible sprained left foot which healed quickly, they knew the eaglet needed to get back with its family unit.

Returning it to its original nest some 80' high in a Ponderosa pine was not an option. 

A large juniper on a small cliff edge, with an uninterrupted view of the nest and nest tree would have to do. 

Three days later, on July 4th, ESWC's reuniting team set out to return the chick to its family.

With help from a bucket truck provided by B.Z. Miller Construction, Kevin Calder and Mike Aguirre erected a platform in the juniper tree. 

Once the eaglet was placed on the platform, the team left the area immediately and watched from afar.

Photo courtesy ESWC.

Photo courtesy ESWC.

The eaglet stayed on the platform for 3 days, doing a lot of flapping; then relocated to a large rock outcropping. All the while, the parents tended to both chicks. 

On 7/23, a local resident observed both immature eagles in the tallest Jeffrey (pine) on the dome. They were joined by both parents. 

"One eaglet flew a short circuit around the dome and returned to the perch. His flying and landing skills are not yet perfected, but he made it."


Jul 7, 2014

Return of the Marmot

By Sammarye Lewis

Re-naming my old Prius the Marmot Mobile, I picked up the adventurous San Francisco Yellow-Bellied Marmot from the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley early this morning. 

The animal was confined in a large animal crate with a yummy buffet of carrots, celery, peanuts and blueberries for his breakfast, while traveling back to his home in Yosemite.  
I could hear Mister Marmot crunching away as we drove in silence (never use any radio when transporting an animal because it can stress them out).  I stopped along the way and peeked in the crate. He was burrowed under a bed of pillowcases, snoozing away.

Destination was May Lake, which is about 42 miles from the entry point of Yosemite Park, up Tioga Road, and then a few miles of dirt road that was heavily rutted with potholes almost as big as my car.

I parked at the trailhead to the May Lake High Sierra Camp where we believe the marmot originally hitched its ride to the Bay Area. 

A very helpful family helped me carry the large crate up the trail. I chose the release spot off from the trail, near a huge bunch of boulders.  

Facing the crate up the mountain, I opened the door. Nothing... We waited.  Nothing.  Waited. Nothing. The marmot was not coming out of the crate.

Photo by Sammarye Lewis

To give him a little encouragement, I removed the top half of the crate, then backed away.  Mister Marmot sat there, blinking in the sunlight.

With the mountain and grassy meadow welcoming him back to his home grounds, Mister Marmot, to my great astonishment and dismay, scampered back down the trail toward the parking lot. Dashing by hikers, he ran beside the bathrooms, beside the dumpsters. He ran diagonally across the parking lot and jumped up under a Toyota Prius. Right back where his adventure started three weeks ago. Unbelievable!!!

I walked back down to the parking lot to check it out. The Prius had a FasTrak device on the windshield, indicating it was from the Bay Area! Unbelievable...

Photo by Sammarye Lewis

Hoping the marmot had run under the car and out the other side, I accepted a hiker's offer to look up under the car with a flashlight. 

Sure enough, there he was, hiding in the engine compartment.

OK. So now I go to Plan B. I placed a line of blueberries in front of car, heading into the meadow, hoping this would tempt the marmot out of hiding. I withdrew to a secluded spot across the parking lot to watch. 

I never thought a remote location could be so busy. There was a continuous stream of cars and people coming and going from the tiny parking lot. So, every time the marmot ventured down onto the ground, either a group of noisy hikers or a loud car would frighten the animal back into hiding.

After about an hour, it quieted down, and Mister Marmot cautiously made his way from the Prius, over to a set of dumpsters. I sighed in relief. Finally. 

Photo by Sammarye Lewis

Just then, from down the trail came an outfitter with four horses and riders leading four pack mules. One of the mules was burdened with a full-size mattress. Seriously? 

Talk about noise! Like a shot, the marmot headed back to you-know-where.

Again, I waited and watched the whistle pig play hide and seek, then after about an hour of not seeing the marmot, I went over and looked under the Prius. A nice guy from Germany came over with a flashlight and crawled underneath, looking in every nook and cranny. The marmot was gone.

Photo by Sammarye Lewis

I left a note on the hood of the Prius, asking the owners to check under the hood before they leave. There really should be warning signs or some how warn visitors of the potential hitchhikers.

It was almost 6pm when I bid farewell to Mister Marmot, wherever he was hiding - Safe Travels.

A huge THANK YOU! to everyone who contributed gas money!!!

Jul 2, 2014

Mountain marmot in San Francisco

Yesterday, WES was alerted of another yellow-bellied marmot in San Francisco.

According to the resident of the Potrero Hill neighborhood in San Francisco, the marmot first appeared in their backyard about two weeks ago. 

Since then, it's been living under their deck and spending each day dining on a garden of fresh greens, fruits and flowering plants. 

This morning, WES' Duane Titus will attempt to capture the marmot so it can be returned to its native habitat.

Marmotinis are ground-dwelling burrowing rodents. Marmots are the largest of this ground-squirrel tribe.

Marmots are found in higher elevations, above 6,000 feet. In California, yellow-bellied marmots, affectionately called 'whistle pigs' for their shrill alarm calls and portly build. They inhabit the grasslands and alpine meadows of the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and White Mountains.

Marmots are notorious for "hitching" rides as stowaways in engine compartments, ending up hundreds of miles from home. 

Why? Theories include the rodents' attraction to the rubber hoses of an engine or the sweet-tasting but intoxicating radiator fluid - ethylene glycol. 

While finding a marmot in the city is certainly unusual, it's not uncommon. WES receives calls every year about marmots on the loose. In 2012, rescuers captured a marmot in San Jose (story HERE), another one in Gilroy (HERE) and again, last year, another marmot (HERE) was captured. This one actually became quite famous with its own Twitter account, Bernal Marmot.

It was just after noon when Duane arrived. He set two cage traps in the backyard garden, each carefully baited with a different treat that a marmot might like. One, with sliced melon and a couple of pieces of apple drizzled with molasses, and the other with organic Fig Newmans.

After setting the traps, the backyard was left undisturbed. Duane and the homeowners watched and waited from inside.

While waiting, the family prepared lunch and invited Duane to join them. Just after the meal, the marmot was observed loping (as much as a whistle pig can lope) in the yard, crossing the garden to the plum tree where it snacked on a couple of plums before finding a bit of Fig Newman.

Searching for more of the delicious dried fruit cookie, it followed a trail of crumbs that led into the cage trap. Finally, it discovered a whole Fig Newman cookie on the lever, and that was that. Duane had his marmot.

The animal was loaded into the rescue truck and transported to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley where it received a health check and was found to be healthy and free to return to its home in the wild.

Photo courtesy of Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley.

Thanks to widespread news coverage of the marmot's dilemma, we believe we found where it came from - an area near May Lake in Yosemite, some 200 miles east. Even in a fuel-efficient car, the roundtrip will be costly.

Resting in his cage at WCSV, striking a pose
reminiscent of Burt Reynolds, don't you think?

To help out, the Rock Bar in San Francisco through a little fundraiser - a percentage of every Marmotini sold to help cover fuel costs of getting the marmot back home on Monday. Sammarye Lewis will be driving the critter back to May Lake. (THANK YOU, SAMM!!!)

If you'd like to contribute some gas money to this trip or to offset the cost of fuel for the many miles we travel to rescue wildlife, click HERE. Any amount helps and is very much appreciated!

Want to be an on-call First Responder for WES, sign up HERE.

Check out the news coverage - very funny!!!!