Jul 13, 2018

Two more bobcats with mange show up in Santa Cruz

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Last night, WES received a report from a local photographer that he’d spotted a sick bobcat at Wilder Ranch Park. 

"We used to see lots of bobcat (at least once every four visits), but it has been a year since we last saw one there. Today, we were excited to finally see a bobcat, but dismayed when it turned around to be clearly suffering from mange."

Indeed, the bobcat appears to be suffering from notoedric mange, a skin condition caused by mites. Research suggests this condition is related to a compromised immune system, often seen in bobcats exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides. See resource links below for more. 

Under normal circumstances, sightings of bobcats suffering from mange is a cause for concern. In this case, it’s alarming because of the number of ailing bobcats that have been found in and around Wilder Ranch and UCSC campus over the years. Similarly, Elkhorn Slough Reserve has had an abundance of sick bobcats. 

Since 2013, WES has been keeping track of bobcats found with mange. See the map, here: 

WES has documented approximately 40 bobcats suffering from mange - just in Santa Cruz County! A few were successfully captured. Sadly, only a few of those recovered.

Many that were found dead or died in care were sent to the Wildlife Investigations Lab near Davis for testing. Results from the necropsies show an undeniably clear link between the fatal illness and exposure to anticoagulant poison. 

Predators, like the bobcat, are poisoned when they consume an animal that has eaten poison - it could be a ground squirrel, rat, mouse, gopher. 

These powerful chemicals that cause hemorrhaging, referred to as second generation anticoagulant rodenticides, or SGARs, are long-lived. Unlike first generation anticoagulants, SGARs don’t break down quickly, but accumulate in the liver. Each dose, then, increases the animal’s “stored up” level of poison until it either overwhelms the immune system and the animal succumbs to a secondary illness like mange, or it bleeds to death. 

It’s not just the predators like bobcats, coyotes, owls and hawks that are being poisoned, it’s the scavengers too, like raccoons, opossums and skunks. Even dogs and cats are at risk should they find and eat a poison-laced rodent.

Since the last bobcat at Wilder Ranch, just over a month ago, park officials agreed to help whenever another bobcat was sighted, so this morning I notified their staff and made arrangements to store a large cage on site in case the cat is seen again. 

I also notified Santa Cruz Raptors Are The Solution (SCRATS). Tai Moses, who runs the local chapter, helped spread word about the sighting, encouraging people to report sightings of sick bobcats.

It wasn't long before she alerted me to another sick bobcat - this one was spotted on the USCS campus, just about 3 miles away. Totally different cat. Check out the video, HERE. Only three miles

For me, this is absolutely heartbreaking. I am so tired of picking up dead and dying bobcats. 

If more people understood how extraordinary one single bobcat is - especially in a suburban area. How much went into its creation, from the meeting of two wild bobcats, to its conception, its mother finding a safe place to give birth to her kittens, and her staying alive - avoiding cars, hunters, trappers and dogs long enough to raise her cubs and teach them how to hunt successfully... only to be rendered to skin and bones by society's addiction to anticoagulant poison and greed within the pest control industry.

Dying mother bobcat with its cub. UCSC campus.

Anticoagulant rodenticides ARE NOT NECESSARY!!!!!! 

There are plenty of effective alternative rodenticides that don't risk killing wildlife and pets as SGARs do. 

There are plenty of effective means of controlling rodents without the use of poisons whatsoever! 

THIS HAS TO STOP, and I believe we can stop it. It will be a hard battle but I think we can. At least locally.

No matter where you live, if you're interested in joining the fight to end the use of SGARs, please email me rebecca (at) wildlifeservices (dot) org.

If you want to donate funds - to cover the costs of testing the animals we find, to prove they were exposed to poison, and to cover costs specifically associated with this battle.

Please help in whatever way you can. 

REPORT SIGHTINGS TO 831-498-9453 or use the iPhone App WildHelp


Google album Faces of Rodenticide  (images are copyright protected - all rights reserved)

Jul 12, 2018

Grounded owl recovers

By Deanna Barth 

Photo: Rene Rodriguez .  https://www.renerodriguezphotography.com

I received a call from a concerned couple in Paicines on May 5th, when they discovered this injured Great-horned owl on their property. After making several calls in an attempt to find help, they quickly discovered that doing so in this county is no easy feat! 

They finally contacted the SPCA for Monterey County wildlife center who in turn gave them my number. 

It was a beautiful drive to the location but I was dismayed at what I found. The owl had tucked itself into a hole in the ground and appeared weak and unwary. Significant puncture wounds were apparent on the left wing and fearing it may also be fractured, I explained to the couple that the prognosis looked poor. 

To my pleasant surprise, the thorough evaluation given by wildlife center staff showed the wing was not broken, however, it would require extensive care. I was cautiously optimistic each time I asked for an update, but with their wound care and physical therapy it continued to improve. 

Finally, after two months, I was filled with joy to make the drive once again, this time with the honor of returning this beautiful bird back home just before sunset. 

(Thank you to Rene Rodriguez for the photo)

Lead poisoning in a turkey vulture

By Deanna Barth

On the evening of May 31st, Dee Kramer noticed this turkey vulture standing on the side of the road. She listened to her intuition as she drove by, turned around and went back. 

There was no obvious injury but it appeared hunched over which told her something was wrong. She waited nearby and called me for help. 

Upon arrival, I quickly agreed that the bird appeared sick.

It was fairly easy to collect with a long-handled net.

I provided supportive care including warmth and fluid therapy that night and transported it to the SPCA for Monterey County wildlife center the next morning. 

Blood results showed that the bird was suffering from lead toxicity. Thanks to their amazing care, he recovered.

Today, I was able to return him to the location found this afternoon. He walked around, took time to stretch his wings and even posed for us on the fence post before taking flight. While turkey vultures may not be admired by most who see them, it’s important to note that they serve a crucial purpose in our ecosystem. Disposing of carrion helps prevent the spread of disease. So the next time you see them flying overhead, be thankful for “Nature’s Clean-up Crew.”

If you'd like to support Deanna and WES' San Benito program that 
she operates, please click the Donate button, below. Thank you!