Justice Served

By Denys Hemen, Hospital Manager

X-Ray of Hawk with Bullet

At CWC we have received 36 patients so far this year that have been shot by a pellet, BB, or shotgun. Last year we received 51. In all of these cases the perpetrator was never known and most of the patients had to be euthanized. The animals were found by caring members of the public, unable to fly or crawl away.  Most of these people had no idea that the animals had been shot and were very shocked to find out when they followed up with us over the phone. This can be a very frustrating situation for us and the public. We know there are multiple people in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas shooting wildlife, but we are helpless to address the situation without evidence. One day recently, that all changed.

A hawk was brought into our exam room unable to stand or fly. As we do with all our patients, CWC staff gathered important information from the rescuer. The rescuer told us how he found the hawk in his backyard and that he believed it was shot. He stated that he knew someone in his neighborhood that he had seen shooting birds. We quizzed him and made sure he had seen the gun in the person’s hand actively pointing at birds and firing.  X-rays confirmed that the bird had pellet fragments inside it’s body. Finally, that helpless feeling began to go away. We gave the rescuer the contact information for the proper authorities. Then we followed up with the same department. We gave the rescuer’s contact information to the officer and by the next day they had contacted them. An officer arrived at the scene later that week and questioned the perpetrator who immediately admitted to the shooting. Justice had been served. Not only for the hawk but also for the numerous other birds this person had illegally shot.

Shooting nongame migratory birds is a federal offense and a state offense in California with fines that can reach into the thousands of dollars. This story proves that we are not always helpless when trying to protect our wildlife from poachers. Sometimes it pays off to be persistent. If we have proof, then the law is on our side. Even though our California State Park and California Department of Fish and Game departments are underfunded and understaffed, there are eager individuals who are passionate about our wildlife and are willing to serve justice. If you ever witness a person shooting non-game wildlife or shooting any wildlife in the city limits, please call the CalTIP line at 888-334-CALTIP or visit the website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

The Malibu Community – Key in the Rescue of Marine Mammals

Sea Lion 17-1 in care

Sea Lion 17-1 is gaining weight in care and doing well.
Photo by Alyssa Schlange

By Heather Henderson, Stranding Coordinator

During this past fall and winter, between rescues calls for marine mammals, California Wildlife Center also worked to improve enclosure space.  Walls were built around one entire pen, to keep the pups warm during the cold spring evenings, when temperatures drop below freezing.  All the planning was well worth it, as just days after the upgrades were completed, the phone rang with reports of a California Sea Lion in need of assistance.  CWC opened the doors to marine mammal rehabilitation earlier than ever before – January 1st.

Sea Lion 17-12

Sea Lion 17-12 was hiding behind some fencing.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Fanning Lojkovic

There are many challenges associated with performing rescues along the beautiful Malibu coastline.  The first patient of the year was wedged far into a cave in the rocky cliffs.  This location, compounded by the shorter winter days, could have proved unsuccessful had it not been for the caring people in Malibu.

Most rescues are prompted by reports from the public, after sighting an animal in need of supportive or veterinary care.  The simple act of calling our hotline [310 458 9453 (WILD)] is an essential part of the rehabilitation!  Residents and visitors to the Malibu area often go further.  They send photos, provide GPS pins and even remain on site (at a safe distance of 50+ feet) until our rescue team arrives.  They guide us to the animal and let other concerned individuals know that the Marine Mammal Rescue Team is on the way.  These extra steps can be essential to the rescue process, as distressed California Sea Lions will strive to find shelter and can easily blend in with the rocky coastline.  Even when possible to locate without additional information, the photos and enhanced stranding details allow our team to better assess and prepare while en route to the site.  Once there, a more efficient rescue can mean removal from a potentially stressful environment and the ability to provide care sooner.

17-1 in cave

Sea Lion 17-1 was hiding in a cave. CWC staff might never have found it had it not been for help from the community.
Photo by Mira Sorvino

California Wildlife Center’s marine mammal program owes much of its success to the commitment of the people of Malibu for helping us to preserve this one part of what makes Malibu so special.

Coastal Cleanup Day 2014

Raptor re-nesting program

homepage_raptorrenesting story_280x115Last year, CWC began a “renesting” program with the goal of reuniting baby raptors with their parents.  To ensure a successful “renesting” outcome, we make sure we have a healthy baby and that the parents are still around – the objective being to get the two to recognize each other in the field.

After gathering the needed supplies (baby, gloves, ropes, ladder, etc.), we drive the baby to the location where it was found.  If the original nest is too tall to reach (it always is!), then we place a substitute nest in a tree nearby.  The substitute nest is simply a large laundry basket, woven with sticks and nesting material so it is comfortable for the baby.  Once the nest is affixed high up, the baby goes right in.  If the parents haven’t already heard the commotion and come right over, we then play species specific begging calls on speakers to attract them.  As soon as the parents acknowledge their baby, our job is done.

Raptors are very dedicated parents and will even (unknowingly) raise extra babies we give them!