Mother opossum entrapped for days

Today we received a call about an opossum that was causing quite a disturbance at a home in Watsonville. The resident explained how the animal was getting inside a converted garage - now used for storage, and pulling things off shelves and defecating all over the place. At the time of the call they said they could see the animal tucked back on a shelf sleeping, and it looked like there were a couple of young ones.

With every call about an animal, whether it's injured or being a nuisance, the history is critical in helping us determine the best course of action.

In this case, it was odd for an opossum to be causing such damage - they are simple animals, slow moving, quiet and clean (great tenants) - they don't really carry diseases to worry about and they do a good job of taking care of rats and mice (REALLY great tenants!).

Why was this opossum behaving this way?

As with all intrusion dilemmas, we want to figure out exactly how an animal is intruding - how it's get through and into a structure.

After asking the resident a number of questions, we determined the door to the storage room had been left open to air out, and it must not have been shut before nightfall. In walked the curious marsupial, and, at some point, without knowing there was a visitor inside, the door was shut and locked.

The mother of nine might have enjoyed the sheltered space while she slept through the first day of imprisonment, but by nightfall, the nocturnal animal began looking for a way out. She was probably more panicked the second night, and in her desperate attempts to find an exit she toppled bags and boxes, alerting the humans of her presence.

Thankfully, we arrived in time. The mother opossum was alive, but starved. Skin and bones, having sustained her 9 nursing babies with nothing to eat or drink for at least two days, possibly longer.

The mother and joeys were safely crated and transported to the nearest wildlife hospital where she received subcutaneous fluids and a soupy meal.

Prevent Entrapments

To prevent entrapments, never block holes or openings into buildings without making sure there're no animals inside. One way to check to see if there's activity - an animal coming and going, is to lightly block a potential entry point with a wad of newspaper. After 24 hours, check to see if the newspaper has been disturbed. If so, you know you got an intruder. Give us a call to safely remove it.

UPDATE: She made it! The mother opossum has recovered and will be released back to the wild.

Donate to Native Animal Rescue

To help offset the cost of caring for this mother opossum and the hundreds of wild animals NAR will rescue and treat this year, please consider sending a donation or click HERE.

Evolution of a barn owl nest box

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Creating a safe and sound environment for barn owls to raise their young has been, and I suspect it will continue to be, a journey of its own.

We started building boxes many years ago. We knew from our wildlife rescue experience - from picking up too many cold and broken bodies, that barn owl chicks will pop out of the nest prematurely if they don't have something to keep them in. The height of the hole is critical. After testing it last year we have concluded the entry hole should be at least 14" from the floor.

The size of the hole, too, is important. It mustn't be so large that a raccoon or great horned owl could easily fit through, but not so small that the adults have difficulty.

We tried the heavily recommended 3 3/4" X 4 1/2" and found it was too small - we watched adults struggle.

At the Haute box, the owls did not enter for weeks until we enlarged the entry. Then, only Lotte was seen visiting. We enlarged it even more, and then Teco was finally able to fit through the portal. We're now building making entrances about 5" - 5 1/2".

Perches and porches are not necessary for barn owls so long as there are grip-grooves at the entryway and a perch at the entry would make it easier for a great horned owl to predate on the owls, so, we've never installed any for those reasons.

However, in watching Teco and Lotte's owlets as they near fledging age, it seems a platform just outside the entry - but at the same level as the floor, might make their first adventure out of the box less ominous. It would also give the fledglings a spot to land - a landing pad, making it much, much easier for them to return to the nest after taking their first flights. 

I say that because we watched Chicle last night. It was the oldest chick's first evening out and it wanted to get back inside but could not figure it out. It perched on the edge of the box for some time, trying so hard to reach the hole with its talons. Chicle flew well, and could navigate to the flat top of the box with no problem, but it took quite some time before the young owl managed to get back into the nest box.

So, today, we installed a short landing pad. We attached it to the bottom of the box. It has holes for drainage and a little lip to grab onto. 

We look forward to seeing how the chicks respond to the new platform.

To all who have and continue to support our efforts, a heartfelt thank you!

Teco & Lotte

Welcome to the Teco and Lotte Chronicles... In December, 2016 we installed a barn owl nest box at the Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing California - part of the restaurant owner's commitment to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. A pair of resident barn owls took to the box quickly. By January, the first egg was laid. Check back for frequent updates and happenings inside the nest. View the live stream on YouTube at Teco & Lotte.

February 19th, 2017 Chicle coughs up, likely, his first pellet. Video coming soon.

February 14th, 2017 In the Californian!

February 8th In the Monterey Weekly

February 4th, 2017 06:44 There is a chick!!!!

February 2nd In the Santa Cruz Sentinel

January 18th, 2017 14:32 EIGHT EGGS!!!!

January 14th, 2017 18:37  

January 10th, 2017 10:39  

January 9th, 2017 19:40 FOUR!!!!

January 8th, 2017 10:44 THREE EGGS

January 3rd, 2017 15:20 EGG!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 20th, 2016  

December 16th, 2016   

December 8th, 2016   
Lotte in the box.

December 1st, 2016   
The camera was installed after dusk.

November 20th, 2016 
The nest box was installed. 

Barn Owl Nest Boxes - Size Matters

To those who build and/or install or promote barn owl nest boxes, 

This is a request to come together and agree on minimum overall size requirements and entry hole dimensions and placement.

We see a vast range in dimensions (below). We believe the smaller boxes are an attempt to keep the boxes lightweight, less expensive and easier to install, but that’s not fair to the owls. That’s like saying that you need to live in an 8’ X 8’ home because that’s easiest and less costly.

34.5 X 21 X 23
30 X 14 X 16
26 X 17 X 17
23 X 11 X 16
23 X 12 X 16 
23 X 16 X 12
18 X 10 X 22
17 X 15 X 22
12 X 12 X 16

Barn owls stand about 14” tall with a wingspan as great as 43”. We have watched a male roost in the same box with his mate while she’s brooding. Even with six chicks, we have seen both parents stay in the box during the day until they were about a month old. We credit this to the size of our boxes, allowing enough room for the family to stay together. As owlets near fledging age, they need to exercise their flight muscles. We’ve watched them hop and pounce and flap their wings - practicing being an owl. There’s no room for owlets to do that in a small box. 

We agree with the Barn Owl Trust’s minimum floor size for an American barn of about 29” X 23.6” (50% greater than for the European species).

An ideal nesting box would be much bigger: a full 1 metre (39.37”) from the bottom of the entrance hole to the bottom of the box and with a floor area of at least 1 metre (39.37”)  x 1 metre (39.37”). However, owl boxes that big would be very difficult to erect and more expensive. (Barn Owl Trust web site)


From bottom of entrance hole to nest floor must be not less than 18”. (Barn Owl Trust web site)

Again, we agree with the Barn Owl Trust, that the nests should be deep. Placement of the portal is critical for the welfare of the young owls. Too low, and the young owls will fall out prematurely, risking injury and death. 

We have found that 10” - 11” from the base of the floor (with 2” shavings) to the entry hole can keep young owls contained until they are light and mostly flighted, but if the height of your box allows for it, place the entry at the suggested 18”.

The size of the hole is also critical. Too large, and predators will have easier access. But the hole can be too small. From research and experience, we believe the entry hole should be elliptical 5 1/2” wide by 4.5” high or a 5” square.


Providing barn owl nest boxes is about providing a safe location for a pair of owls to raise their young - that has to be our priority. We mustn't let convenience be an excuse for substandard nest boxes. 

Please, pledge with me now to only build/install adequate nest boxes with minimum width of 16” and a length that achieves a diagonal measurement of 36” and a height no less than 18”. Pledge to make entry holes no less than 10” above the surface of the floor, accounting for shavings and buildup of pellets.

Thank you!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Crenova iScope Waterproof Inspection Camera

By Rebecca Dmytryk

In our line of work, sometimes we need to inspect inside walls or other inaccessible spots to locate trapped or nesting animals. The Crenova iScope was recommended by a colleague, and seems to be a decent tool for the job, and, at $20.00 on Amazon - you just can't beat the price.

The quality of images isn't bad. The HD model supports 1280 X 720. The camera's 6 LED's can be turned On and Off and dimmed. The optimal focus area is about 2" to 3" and the cable is about 16' in length. Overall, I think this will be an excellent addition to our toolbox.

I played around with it a bit this morning. While I don't have the right adapter for my iPhone, I was able to connect the camera via USB to my MacBook and iMac successfully.

With the camera connected, I opened Photo Booth and from the dropdown menu under Camera, selected the HD Endoscope Camera, and voila. To capture images, you can turn off the annoying countdown by holding the Option key when selecting the camera icon or hitting Return.

Here are a couple of images captured through Photo Booth:

Tufted titmouse nestlings.

Here is a shot taken from my iMac using an interface from VideoLan. Here are the instructions on using it:
1. Download the latest version of the VLC Media Player and install it; 
2. Connect the endoscope to the computer and open the VLC media player; 
4. In VLC Media Player, click File in the Menu and select Open Capture Device; 
5. In that window, click in the video check box and select the HD Endoscope Camera; 
6. Set the resolution to 1200 for Image Width and 720 for Image Height, then click on Open.

Mouse in the house

I just have to share good moments, working with people who share our compassion for animals.

This morning, one of our clients called to give me an update. We'd rodent-proofed their home over a week ago, sealing up all the gaps and possible intrusion points and making sure there weren't any large animals living under the home.

Then, we started the rat and mouse removal process, which involves setting live-catch traps in the crawlspaces. The animals are trapped alive and set free just outside. It's a wonderful process because these little guys actually help us do our work! Who better to check that we've done a good job sealing up a home than the little guys that know just how to get back inside - if they can.

Live-catch traps need to be checked every morning so animals caught during the night don't suffer in a cage too long. Our trap rental agreement requires traps be checked and animals released by 10:00 each morning. We offer daily trap checks, but we're more than happy to let residents do this portion of the process, as these homeowners had chosen to do.

After a couple of days using a small rat-sized cage trap, our client called to report the bait inside the trap had been taken each night, and one time the trap had been tripped but there was no animal caught. Clearly we were dealing with smaller, lighter creatures.

We switched out the rat-sized live-catch trap for one made with smaller mesh.

Finally, they captured and released two mice!

Then, a day or so later, they saw an even smaller mouse - maybe a young one - easily capable of squeezing through the bars of the cage. For this little guy, a multi-catch live trap was needed. We wouldn't be able to get them the trap for a day or so, so we suggested leaving some healthy food for the little one - a piece of apple, carrot, maybe a bottle cap of water. They were more than happy to do so.

It's so nice to work with people who are kindhearted, wanting to protect their home but not wanting to harm the animals, not even a mouse.

DIY humane rat and mouse eviction

Ridding one's home of mice and rats can be a bit labor intensive, frustrating at times, but, once completed, the home should be rodent-free for many, many years.

The following post describes how to protect your home from rats and mice, for good, without using poison or other lethal means. 

Before using live traps, you'll want to find out how they're getting in. 

Think about it this way - if you're in a boat that's filling with water, you would want to find and plug the holes before bailing, right? 

So, the first step is to locate the intrusion points. Look for holes and gaps that are 1/2" and larger. Be meticulous. 

Heavily used entry points will usually show staining.

Entry points can be sealed using caulking, copper mesh, and 1/4" hardware cloth. Avoid using foam - mice and rats can easily gnaw through it. 

If you find a breach that is 4" or greater, there could be larger animals inside - like a raccoon or an opossum. You'll need to take a different approach, especially during baby season. Give us a call for advice.

Where a hole goes into a wall or an area where you won't be able to set a cage trap, a one-way device allows an animal to get out and not get back in. The video below shows a one-way device in use.

The same day we finish sealing a home we set live-capture traps, like the Little Giantinside the crawlspaces - the attic and subfloor area. 

Rats can be neophobic - scared of new things, and may not go into a cage trap for a few days, so, in addition to placing bait in the trap, we also set a few small pieces on the outside of the cage. If the bait disappears, we know there is a live animal present.

Live traps must be checked every morning, as early as possible so the animals don't suffer long in the cage. The animals can be released just outdoors in familiar habitat. No need to take them anywhere else if you've done a good job of sealing your home.

In addition to removing the animals from your home, check your yard for attractants - what's drawing them to your property? Wildlife will be attracted by food and shelter resources - wood piles, bird feeders, compost bins, fruit trees, pet and livestock feed. Do your best to reduce these resources or the rodents access to them.

Just in case you're planning to use snap traps, never set them outdoors, unprotected, where other animals and children can reach them. There are special protective boxes that can be used to enclose snap traps.

Don't use poison! 

Rodenticide is passed to other animals when poisoned mice and rats are consumed. Rodents are the target but not the only victims - it's a serious issue - read all about it HERE.

We believe the only wildlife-safe rodenticide in the US at this time is RatX. HERE, EcoClear states RatX is 100% non-toxic to people, pets and wildlife yet 100% deadly to rats and mice, with no risk of secondary kill and no environmental pollution. You can now find RatX online and at the Home Depot.

If you have a large enough yard and live in an area frequented by barn owls, consider installing a barn owl nest box to encourage more owl activity. They are excellent predators of mice, rats, voles and gophers. Check out the recent news article about our barn owl boxes, HERE.

Check out one of our barn owl nest cams, HERE. (seasonal)

If you have any questions or concerns or if you'd like to set up an appointment, give us a call at 855-548-6263.

A picture worth a thousand words

This picture was sent to us by someone worried about a coyote in their neighborhood.

Do you see what this is?

It's a coyote suffering from mange - an infestation of mites has caused the animal to lose fur and break out in sores. The coyote's ears indicate how cold and miserable it feels. 

Look what it's standing next to. A poison bait station for rodents. 

Perhaps the coyote is waiting for its next meal - another poison-laced mouse or rat. 

Could this be the cause of this poor animal's failing condition? 

Opossum in a garage...

Today we were called out to remove an opossum that had found its way into a garage, squeezing under a slight opening under the front door. 

It had made itself at home, probably venturing out during the night to do its 'possum-thing, eating slugs and snails and foraging for other edibles, which, unfortunately too often, includes pet food left out overnight.

Our technician, Michael Gunderson, is new to HWC and this was his first opossum capture. 
Rebecca is very knowledgeable and skilled in the proper and humane techniques for handling wildlife so she gave me a crash course on handling an opossum. 
After locating the animal, Michael gently restrained it behind the head and around its shoulders and gently lifted and carried the marsupial outside. 
The animal remained calm and relaxed, as did I, so it went without a hitch and it was released unharmed on site. 
It's days like this one that make me really enjoy working with Duane and Rebecca. They share the same concern and passion for wildlife and conservation as I do and always put the safety of an animal over everything else.  
Of course, it would've been ideal to release the opossum during the evening but that's just not always practical. At least it's on its own turf where it is familiar with obstacles and what to avoid. It's really awful for animals that are relocated - taken far away and dumped, which is illegal in California, and for good reason.

Check out the video:

What do you think about coyotes in Laguna Beach?

There's a proposed plan before the City of Long Beach to increase trapping and killing of coyotes - blanket trapping in early spring to kill the pregnant females, and in fall to kill off the young of the year. 

Apparently, this plan was offered by Animal Pest Management - a pest control company that had been contracted with the city for its services but has since (a week or so ago) been terminated. The city replaced APM with Critter Busters. 

Critter Busters was hired to exterminate coyotes for the City of Seal Beach - gassing them. In this article councilman Michael Levitt regrets approving the contract with Critter Busters when he learned how the animals suffered when killed. 

What do you think about coyotes and the plan to increase trapping and killing? If you live in the area, please take our survey. This survey is for residents of Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Aliso Viejo.

Long Beach Coyotes

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Image by Dru Bloomfield

Over the last few months, a group of Long Beach residents have become very vocal about the presence of coyotes in their neighborhoods, demanding coyotes be trapped and killed. It seems to be a relatively small group of individuals from two Facebook groups, Coyote Watch Long Beach and Coyote Watch Garden Grove, who have, since 2013, been leading a campaign to force state and local government to eradicate coyotes. 

From my brief involvement (until I was blocked), it was clear the administrators of the groups were not open to listening to other views or to sound solutions, they were out for blood.

Their complaints caught the attention of Long Beach Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, who offered to bring the issue before the City Council at their August meeting.

Not all of the group's members advocate for killing the coyotes, they just want to feel safe and they want to protect their pets, understandably, but there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation being given out, creating needless hype and hysteria. 

I attended the council meeting on August 11th to support Councilwoman Mungo's proposal to direct the Long Beach Animal Care Services to study the city's coyote problem and come up with a better plan. We hope this will lead to formal adoption of a Coyote Management Plan similar to the one adopted by City of Calabasas in 2011. Check it out, HERE.

Since adopting the plan, which reserves lethal control for attacks on humans, Calabasas has experienced a reduction in the number of calls about coyotes, and those, they say, are mostly from newcomers unfamiliar with coyotes.

I also took the opportunity on the podium to address a few misconceptions about coyotes.

Coyotes are closely related to jackals, like the one pictured above. Like jackals, coyotes are predominantly scavengers.

Coyotes are more scavengers than they are predators. 

They do not stalk humans, but like the jackal in Africa, tailing lions for leftovers, coyotes are exhibiting the exact same behavior when they follow humans. They do not see humans as prey, but associate us with food.

Coyotes do not have established dens except when pups are first born. The notion that there are numerous dens throughout Long Beach is farfetched.

As for the idea that coyotes should not be seen in an urban setting, the urban environment is a modern-day ecosystem, often rich in resources. Many wild species are attracted by these resources, and therein lies the key to reducing their presence: reduce the availability of resources and you'll reduce the presence of wild animals in backyards and neighborhoods. It is truly that simple!

As for trapping and killing coyotes, which is being pushed for by a certain group of Long Beach residents - coyotes are difficult to capture in cage traps, so trappers often use snare-like devices. If the animals don't strangle to death before the trapper returns, they surely suffer when restrained and killed. Snares pose a risk to other animals and children. See video of a coyote rescued from a snare, HERE.

If C02 gas is used to kill the coyotes, as it has been used in neighboring community of Seal Beach (news article HERE), the animals will suffer tremendously. 

The pain and distress associated with CO2 as a killing agent is a serious welfare concern and has been deemed unacceptable for dogs an cats by the World Society for the Protection of Animals. The American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend use of CO2 unless the suffering can be minimized, essentially rendering the animal unconscious before administering the gas.

The truth is, trapping and killing urban wildlife as a means of managing their populations is not only an outdated practice, it is not a long-term solution.

Long Beach will never be completely free of coyotes, they are part of the landscape. Attempts to eradicate them has been and always will be futile. The answer is to limit their resources and make the area less hospitable.

Coyotes are extremely smart and adaptable, modifying their behavior to their habitat. Urban coyotes reflect human behavior - their behavior is the mirror image, expressing, ever so accurately, the environment in which they live. In Long Beach, then, we see the influence of humans acting poorly, shaping the coyotes to what they have become.

The good news is, since it’s a people problem, there's great potential for change.

Before my trip to Long Beach for the meeting, I was contacted by a Lakewood Village resident who said her small dog narrowly escaped an attack by a coyote. She'd let it out the front door for just a few minutes - briefly unattended, and she heard a Yip. She ran outside to find her dog escaping a coyote that was now in her driveway. She picked up her small dog and shooed off the coyote.

She proceeded to tell me that coyotes had been seen on Warwood Road quite often lately, and that they would frequent the backyard of the house across the street from her, where she suspects there's a den. I told her I would check it out when I was in town.

So, the morning after the Long Beach City Council meeting (article about it HERE) I headed for Lakewood Village I started out early, at about 5:30 am, making my way from downtown, hoping to see a coyote... especially since one of the roads was named Los Coyotes Diagonal, right?

The sun was just coming up, the streets were getting busier.

I drove through a couple of quiet neighborhoods. It was trash day - cans were out on the street and I found a number of trash receptacles overfilled, where wildlife could have access to garbage. Overall, the streets were clean. I did find litter on the college campus.

I documented my findings using Theodolite, an app for accurate geotagging of photographs.

It was about 6:30 when I got to Lakewood Village. There were a lot of people on the streets, walking their dogs, jogging... 

It was about 7:00 when I spotted a coyote trotting down one of the streets, going from yard to yard, looking in bushes and scanning. He was extremely alert and wary. I followed him for a while, not applying to much pressure. I wanted to observe as normal behavior as possible.

After a while, I started hazing him. I tested him with a penny can first, from my truck, and got the normal reaction - very little. Wild animals don't really see a human as a threat when they are part of a larger object - inside a car or on a horse. 

The coyote in Lakewood Village on August 12th. He's staring at me waiting for direction - which way I am going to go.

Then I approached on foot, shaking the noisemaker - he bolted.

I pursued him, quietly, keeping a distance so I could engage him again at close range. I would sneak up on foot or head him off. I was able to haze him at least 5 times with either the penny-can and scare stick. 

At one point, a person ran out of their house and chased the coyote down the block. The coyote would dart across lawns and around corners, avoiding cars and people. Finally, I lost him when he scaled a block wall and jumped into the yard of what appeared to be an abandoned home. Interestingly, it this was just a couple of houses away from where I'd been told the coyotes had a den.

I rang the doorbell of the home where the coyotes were said to be living, and offered my assistance in resolving the issue.

The homeowner was delighted, and showed me where she thought they were living - under the home!

Sure enough, the crawlspace access door was broken through. The surface of the dirt near the entrance was "polished" - a sign that animals were coming and going. 

The resident had been hearing noises under the house, on and off for months, and actually saw a coyote go through the hole, so she knew she had a problem but couldn't find anyone to help. I assured her we would get them out, safely.

It didn't take long for me to install one of our one-way doors - it's like a doggy-door that allows animals to come out but they can't get back in. I'll return to remove the device and fix the opening permanently in a couple of weeks.

Piecing it all together... considering the homeowner had heard whimpering at one point and that she and neighbors had observed coyotes coming and going from under the house, this could possibly be a natal den - where pups were born earlier in the year. 

That would make sense... the increase in coyote sightings, the increase in the number of cats missing, the "bold" coyotes - just standing there - these could be the younger ones that haven't learned to fear humans yet. It makes sense.

After installing the one-way door I drove just under half a mile to the Warwood residence, where neighbors were concerned there was a den.

As I walked to the front door, I passed some familiar plants - California natives!!! White sage, purple sage, lemonade berry... and... coyote bush. A little patch of what used to be here... 

An older gentleman answered the door. I explained I was there to check out the backyard for coyotes if that was alright with him. He agreed... he escorted me to the back yard.

More natives!!! Sycamore and bay laurel, my favorite!

Although the grass was tall and there was a wood pile and it could use some tidying up, there was no sign of a den. Perhaps the coyotes were attracted to the cool shade and the natives and the quiet...

I looked around a little bit more, and, in the grass I found the partial remains of a cat.

Very sad for the cat. A preventable loss if the owner had kept it inside or in an outdoor enclosure. 

Having confirmed coyote activity in the yard, I decided to place a solar-powered motion-activated ultrasonic repeller that would make sounds and flash a light when triggered.

So far, so good. I spoke with a neighbor who had complained that the noise from the coyotes were keeping her up at night, and she said they'd stopped. Great!

Throughout the morning, I stopped and spoke with people who were out walking. I wanted to find out the truth... Was this neighborhood up in arms over the coyotes or was it just a few residents who were overly concerned? 

I spoke with a woman walking a small yorky-mix and asked if she was aware of the coyotes and if she was afraid walking her small dog. She said "No," she'd seen them but wasn't afraid - that they were "just like any other dog."

I spoke with another woman walking two small dogs and asked her if she felt safe with coyotes being in the neighborhood, and she said she sees them but doesn't worry, that it's more "panic in the streets" than anything else. 

Check out the video of that morning:

Bottom line, the residents of Long Beach want to feel safe and they want to protect their pets, understandably. Since the problem begins and ends with people, educating them on why the problem exists and what they can do to help the situation is essential.

To help educate the community about best practices for staying safe where coyotes are present, I'll be giving 2 presentations in the Long Beach. On August 27th at the El Dorado Nature Center from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, and the 28th at the El Dorado Community Center. I'll be demonstrating proper hazing techniques and use of a variety of hazing tools and deterrents, and showing examples of various ideas for safe backyards. News coverage, HERE.

Mother raccoon moves out during the day

Today, we went to work on a home in Pacific Grove, shoring up all the vents except for one so the mother raccoon inside could still come and go. The next step would be to apply a repellent barrier with a certain mix of essential oils to encourage her to move her babies to another location. Sometimes we install an electronic device in the crawlspace to add pressure.

Well, today, we didn't need to do any of that. The mother raccoon was so upset by us working around the exterior of her "den", that she decided to move one of her babies while we were on site.

Her intrusion point was above a window on the second floor, with very poor gripping points, so we placed two ladders to help her out, literally. Check out the footage:

Abandoned Magpie ducks

This weekend we collected two domestic ducks that had been abandoned at Westlake Park in Santa Cruz. The ducks were not being maintained - fed a proper diet, and they were aggressive towards wild waterfowl. 

On our initial visit to assess the situation, we found the two black and white ducks together, foraging along the shoreline of the small lake. From their coloration and upright carriage, we believe they are Magpies - a fairly unusual breed of domestic duck.

The Magpie duck is believed to have originated in Wales in the early 1900s, and was first imported to the United States in 1963.

The two ducks were a bit skittish, as though they had been chased, or perhaps someone had tried to capture them unsuccessfully. It took a few days before we were able to collect them.

They were transported to the local animal shelter where they will be fed and cared for until they are adopted.

Magpies are a hardy variety of domestic duck, living approximately 9-12 years. They are good layers, producing over 220 eggs annually and they are active foragers, eagerly consuming slugs and snails and insects. A great addition to a home farm.

Quiet restored

This week, HWC was called to collect two un-owned Indian peafowl from a quiet residential area in the hills above Soquel, CA.

The Indian peafowl is found in the drier lowland areas of Sri Lanka on the Indian subcontinent. It has been introduced to many parts of the world by collectors and often, as in this case, they are allowed to roam freely, establishing feral populations.

The two males - one white and the other sporting the standard metallic blue-green colors, wandered into the rural subdivision a few weeks ago, and stayed. With their loud calls at dawn and a bad habit of hopping onto parked cars, their presence soon became a nuisance.
Just captured - Mary and Barbara hold on tight to
the peacock as it's carried to the transport vehicle.

On Monday, we successfully captured the larger peacock. The younger, white peafowl was more skittish and elusive.

Yesterday, however, we were able to bait the bird close enough to capture. 

The birds were transported to Santa Cruz County Shelter where they will be available for adoption.

Take the Coyote Challenge!

By the time we're contacted, a coyote has often become a problem - there's been a loss or there's fear of an imminent attack. The animal is a perceived threat that must be removed without delay.

When it comes to coyotes, we find people are usually set in their misbeliefs and are far less willing to change their habits than with other species - less willing to adapt to living with these animals as part of their environment, less willing to invest in making modifications to their property even if that is what will solve the problem, yet, they are often quite demanding that something be done, admonishing local officials for not taking action to protect their home, family and pets.

For these people, we offer the Coyote Challenge.

The Coyote Challenge is our pushback to those who believe nothing less than lethal control will work. The Coyote Challenge is also a way for us to help those who truly cannot afford to invest in non-lethal control measures. 

In return, participants agree to share their account of the process - and the results - which we expect will be that their coyote problem has been resolved, for good.

With each challenge being documented from beginning to end, we see this as a great opportunity to help people and coyotes while gathering conclusive evidence that non-lethal control methods do work.

The Coyote Challenge officially launched last month and we have 3 applications in the review process.

We will be donating our time but supplies, equipment and associated travel costs will be covered through a fund that has been set up through Wildlife Emergency Services.

To apply for help through the Coyote Challenge, email or call 855-548-6263. Click the Donate button below if you'd like to contribute toward the fund that offsets the cost of equipment and such. 


So, this skunk walks into an office and...

This morning we were called about a skunk that was seen inside an office building. 

It wondered inside the building through a door that was left open and then apparently lost its way within the labyrinth of cubicles. 

It took shelter in a corner office. 

Workers closed the door and posted warning signs.

When we arrived, we found the adult skunk tucked back behind a large work station. The animal was bright and alert but unwilling to budge from its corner hiding spot. 

We decided to hold off until nightfall when the skunk would be more apt to move.  

Meanwhile, workers offered to bring in large sheets of plywood to build a corridor leading from the back corner office through the building to the closest exit. A good plan!

Duane and I returned after dark to find the plywood in place, creating a clear passage to the outside, but the skunk was still in its hiding spot.

Skunks can be very stubborn and difficult to move. Why should they comply, right? 

Skunks will tolerate an extreme amount of quiet nudging and poking and prodding without giving an inch. But air - breath - can sometimes get animals to move on.

We decided to give that a try rather than risk more aggressive tactics. We rigged a delivery system using a very long piece of thin plastic tubing - like you'd find at an aquarium store, and we attached it to a strip of wood.

Duane positioned the tip of the tube at the skunk's lower back region and gave it a little puff. 

Without lifting its tail, the skunk moved forward about three feet. 

After a few seconds, another puff of air sent the skunk out from behind the unit - it shot out of the office, down the corridor and out through the open doors. YES!

Outside, the skunk seemed to know right where it was as it shimmied through openings in a fence and off into the night where it belonged.

Check out the video: