If I find a wild animal in distress what should I do?
Safely contain the animal. Put the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place and immediately contact California Wildlife Center at (310)458-9453 or a wildlife rehabilitator/center near you.
What should I do if I find a stranded seal?
Do not touch, pick up, harass, feed, or pour water on the animal. Marine mammals can easily cause harm, and are easily stressed by humans.
Do not return the animal to the water. Seals and sea lions temporarily “haul-out” on land to rest. Harbor seal mothers often leave their pups ashore while they’re feeding at sea. A beached whale, dolphin, or porpoise should be reported immediately.
Observe the animal from a distance of at least 50 feet. Keep people and dogs away.
Take note of any physical characteristics such as size, presence of external earflaps, and fur color. This information will help the response team determine the species and what rescue equipment is needed.
Take note of the animal’s condition. Is it weak and underweight? Are there any open wounds?
Does the animal have any obvious identification tags or markings?
Determine the exact location of the animal and provide accurate directions. It’s not possible to rescue an animal if it cannot be located.
Call the Marine Mammal Response Team and provide them with as much information as possible. 310-458-WILD (9453)
A raccoon or skunk is in my yard or attic? What can I do?
The best way to stop damage to lawns and gardens is to eliminate the food source that they are searching for; not remove the animal itself, as there will always be another to replace it. The animals are looking for grubs and other subterranean insects that they feed upon. You can use beneficial predator nematodes (can be purchased at a garden store) to effectively control these pests and at the same time stop the unwanted behavior by raccoons and skunks.
You can also try to:
Pin new sod to the ground with thin spikes or cover with a thin nylon bird netting and hold down using bricks or rocks
Water your lawns in early morning rather than in the evening
Sprinkle your lawn or planters with cayenne pepper to discourage grub hunting. For large areas, cayenne pepper can be diluted with water and sprayed over lawns.
Protect trees by pruning them back and by wrapping a 2- foot band of sheet metal around the trunk about 4-6 feet off the ground. Trim any branches below 4-6 feet.
Repel® Granules –available at Amazon.com (doesn’t always work but worth a try) Hot Pepper Repellant Recipe
1. One chopped yellow onion
2. One chopped Jalapeno pepper
3. One tablespoon of Cayenne Pepper
Boil ingredients for 20 minutes in two quarts of water. Then let it cool and strain the mixture through cheesecloth. Apply this with a spray bottle. You must apply daily!
Scarecrow® by Contech – a motion-activated high pressure jet sprayer. It gets great reviews and comes highly recommended from many wildlife exclusionists. Available on Amazon.com
Raccoons are smart, so these exclusion tactics usually work quite well if performed correctly
RACCOONS ON THE PREMISES
Be sure to eliminate all outside food sources, such as pet food, birdseed, etc. in the evening. If your pets must be fed outside, then remove all food at night.
Use metal or heavy plastic trash containers. Keep the lids securely fastened to prevent odors from escaping.
Keep BBQ grills clean or stored in a secure place.
If you see a raccoon, haze them. Create a noise maker such as a soda can taped closed with some pennies inside. Throw the can towards the raccoons. Spray them with a hose.
Install an electric fence on the tops of all the fences and on the bottoms if they can climb under. Fido-shock or Havahart brands are recommended. They can be found on Amazon.com.
Use the Scarecrow mentioned above in high traffic areas such as gardens.
RACCOONS IN THE ATTIC
If there are babies, give the mother 1 or 2 nights to relocate the family.
It is best to leave them alone until mom moves the babies out.
If you can, sprinkle Cayenne pepper or Repel® granules, a commercial dog and cat repellant, around the entry hole, both inside and out, if this is possible.
During the day, place a radio in the attic tuned to an all talk station.
Use floodlights to keep the area where they are living well lit.
Once the raccoon has moved out, secure their entry point. Use hardware cloth or welded wire.
RACCOONS ON THE ROOF
Spray them with a hose.
Trim the trees closest to the house or wrap a 4ft wide sheet metal flashing around the tree a couple of feet off the ground to prevent climbing.
Apply metal flashing to other areas of entry.
RACCOONS IN THE GARDEN
Use a Scarecrow sprayer in the garden.
Apply cayenne pepper spray recipe liberally daily around vulnerable plants.
Light the area with floodlights or motion detector lights.
RACCOONS IN THE FISH POND
Build a frame around the pond. Attach 1 ft of chicken wire that will protrude over the edge of the pond. Raccoons will not stand on the flimsy wire and won’t be able to get to the edge of the pond to reach down.
Have plenty of hiding places for fish to go into well away from the edge of the pond.
What do I do if I find a wild rabbit?
(Information from the House Rabbit Society)
If the babies’ eyes are still closed, they are under 10 days of age. If the nest is intact, if the babies look plump and are nestled snuggly next to each other, if there seems to be no immediate danger to them, then leave them alone! You can check to see if the mother rabbit is coming back by crisscrossing the nest with two or three strands of dental floss or thin string. If the string is pushed back out of the way in the morning, then you know that the mother has returned to her babies. If, after 24 hours, the string is still in place, then it is time locate emergency care for those babies (see below).
The mother will not abandon her babies just because the scent of a human is on them. If you are doubtful, then wash your hands and rub them in the grass and soil around the nest and gently replace the babies, making the nest up as it was before you disturbed it. Leave the site as soon as possible. They can easily die of stress and fright — right now or later on. Please do not pick them up unless you are very sure they are orphans or if they are injured (see below).
If a wild rabbit is brought to you by a cat or dog, it is in great danger. The saliva of a cat carries life-threatening bacteria and a bunny that has been in the mouth of a cat usually dies if not given antibiotics within 8 hours of the attack. Puncture marks are often nearly invisible, so don’t rely on a visual once-over to assess damage. Moreover, even if there appears to be no external wound, the teeth of a cat or dog may have easily crushed a vital internal organ. Get the baby to a wildlife rehabilitator right away. Also, please monitor your pets. Keep your cats indoors and watch your dog during baby bunny season. Take periodic walks through your yard to make sure there are no nests your pet can disturb.
If the nest has been destroyed by you, a lawnmower, dog, etc., you can actually recreate a nest for the babies on or a few feet away from the original nest site. Gather dried grasses and scoop out a similar shallow form in the earth. Replace the dried grasses and bits of rabbit fur (the mother always pulls fur from her chest and abdomen to line the nest for her babies). Rub your hands in the grass and soil around the nest and gently replace the babies. Do not move the nest more than a few feet from the original site because the mother might not be able to find it again.
Do NOT attempt to feed a baby rabbit—they should not drink water, milk, Pedialyte etc. Baby rabbits are incredibly fragile and do not take handling by humans well at all. Keep wild rabbits away from children, household noise (such as vacuum cleaner and so forth), domestic pets and bright light. Do not carry the rabbits around or show them to your friends, etc. A rabbit that seems “calm” is usually too scared to move or is in shock as a result of trauma (cat, dog, lawnmower, or even simply being picked up from its nest). Wild rabbits do not know you are just trying to help. They think you are going to kill them. This fear, as well as improper feeding/rehydration, will make their stomachs shut down, which will lead to an extremely protracted, painful, and unnecessary death.
IF any of the following are true:
The nest cannot be reestablished or
The babies are in imminent life-threatening danger or
There is no sign of the mother (at least over 24 to 48 hours) or
The babies are injured
THEN contact CWC right away.
How can I keep migrating ducks from taking up residence in my pool?
Usually, brightly colored objects floating freely in the water will discourage them from landing on it. Things like beach balls or kids’ toys can be used effectively. Covering the pool until they have moved on also works well. Keep landscaping clear of low-lying shrubs, grasses and weeds as this creates a suitable environment for duck nests.
Are there any animals that California Wildlife Center will not accept?
CWC does not accept domestic pets such as dogs, cats or caged birds. If you have an ill or injured house pet, please contact your local veterinarian.
Why can’t I keep the wildlife that I find?
It is illegal to possess wildlife unless you have a permit or are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Almost all native and migratory birds, mammals and reptiles are protected by specific state and federal laws put in place to protect wildlife and ensure that wild animals receive appropriate, adequate, species-specific care when they are sick, injured or orphaned. The ultimate goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to release an animal back to the wild: Any lesser goal is a disservice to the patients we serve here at California Wildlife Center.
Is it OK to feed baby birds bread and milk?
NO! Wild birds and mammals require specialized diets. NEVER feed an animal unless instructed by a wildlife rehabilitator. except in the case of Hummingbirds. See below:
Injured/Sick Adult Hummingbirds
Get a small box and line it with crumpled tissue on the bottom. Make air holes.
Pick up the hummingbird by the body and place it in the box.
Place it in a quiet, dark location (for example, a bathroom) until you reach hospital staff.
Offer the hummingbird a sugar water mixture of one part sugar to four parts water.
Use a straw as a pipet. Dip the end of the straw into the sugar water solutions, then offer the straw to the hummingbird.
The hummingbird will place its beak into the bottom of the straw and drink. Let the hummingbird drink as much as it wants every hour until it is transferred to a licensed rehabilitator.
Do not get any of the sugar water onto the hummingbird’s feathers, and remove all food/ water before transporting the bird.
Orphaned Baby Hummingbirds
It is a federal offense to keep native wildlife as pets.
Get a small box and line it with crumpled tissue on the bottom. Make air holes.
Pick up the baby hummingbirds and place them in the box.
Place the box in a quiet, dark location (for example, a bathroom) until you reach hospital staff. Place a heating pad set to medium under the box.
Offer the baby hummingbirds a sugar water mixture of one part sugar to four parts water.
Use a straw as a pipet. Dip the end of the straw into the sugar water solution, then offer the straw to the hummingbird.
The hummingbird will place its beak into the bottom of the straw and drink. Let the hummingbird drink as much as it wants every 30 minutes until it is transferred to a licensed rehabilitator.
Do not get any of the sugar water onto the hummingbird’s feathers, and remove all food/water before transporting the bird.
I found an orphan baby animal. What should I do?
If you find a baby wild animal, it is best to leave it alone. Many mammals such as deer and rabbits leave their young unattended for extensive periods of time. Only State Certified Wildlife Rehabilitators are legally allowed to possess native wildlife species including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Improper care of wild animals by well meaning, untrained individuals yields either imprinted wild animals (animals that cannot be released back into the wild) or animals that have nutritional issues resulting in life-long health issues. Inexperienced caregivers also risk serious health problems due to disease and parasite transmission from wild animals.
Each situation is different. The information below may help you. If not, please call California Wildlife Center regarding your specific problem.
Nest Has Fallen: Place the nest in a wicker basket or a small plastic strawberry container (make sure there are drainage holes) and tie it to the nearest tree trunk or branch. Place the young in the container. Keep children and pets away and observe from afar for two hours for the return of the parent. If you see no activity, call California Wildlife Center.
Fledgling: Feathered but cannot fly: It takes two to three days for most baby birds to learn to fly once they leave the nest. Keep children and pets away. Do not “run down” and catch the baby. If it is chirping, it is communicating with the parent. If it is in danger, for example next to a road, move it to a low branch or a bush. Observe that it is able to jump and/or perch. Leave it alone.
Rare, but truly an orphan: If your dog/cat brings a baby home or your cat kills both parents, call California Wildlife Center. Do not feed the baby. Do not give milk or water.
Baby Mammals: Most “babies” that are seen are probably on their own and have already left their parents. Baby rabbits are on their own by the time they are 3.5 inches in length. Squirrels that have a body length of 5 to 6 inches, and opossums that have a body length of 8 inches are ready to be on their own. If you encounter smaller babies or babies of other mammal species in your yard contact California Wildlife Center
What time of the year is best to trim trees and bushes?
In Southern California birds can start nesting as early as January. Most birds are protected under the “Migratory Bird Treaty Act” which states that any known “active” nest cannot be disturbed until the babies have left that nest. Always inspect bushes and trees before trimming. Play it safe and trim in the LATE FALL & EARLY WINTER. Nesting season is usually complete by November.
There is a lot of urban wildlife in my area, what can I do to avoid problems?
Never intentionally feed wild animals
Don’t leave pet food or water outside
Always bring your pets inside before dark
Shut pet doors at dusk
Secure the lids of your outdoor garbage cans
Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily
Fence or net areas that you wish to protect
Clear away woodpiles and brush piles after the winter and keep vegetation neatly trimmed near the house
Close access to crawl spaces, attics, sheds and garage spaces. Keep all doors closed at night
Use a motion activated sprinkler that protects gardens by detecting animals and blasting them with water
How can I protect the fish in my pond from raccoons and other predators?
Install a 2-foot wire mesh horizontally around the perimeter of the pond. Leave the wire mesh lightly secured under water (animals cannot reach over the wire and do not like to stand on it if it is unstable).
Provide a nylon netting cover at night or provide a low voltage wire system around perimeter of pond.
Always provide fish with adequate hiding areas. This can be achieved with bricks, rocks and/or plants.
Cover pools at night.
There is an animal under my house/in my attic, what can I do?
First, be sure that there are no animals in the area. To do this you can use deterrents such as ammonia soaked rags, mothballs, lights and/or noise to drive the animals out. Close off all but one of the openings around your house. Spread a layer of baking flour in front of the openings to check for tracks of animals coming and going. Once you have seen no new evidence for a couple of days you can safely and securely close off all possible access points to areas such as crawl spaces, underneath decks, basements and attics. Animals can sometimes cause damage to roofs in order to gain access to attic spaces. In this case, prevent animals from climbing to the roof by trimming tree branches or using metal flashing to prevent them from climbing.
There are coyotes in my neighborhood. What should I do?
Coyotes are a part of even the most urban environments. Here are things to do that may minimize conflict:
Keep small pets indoors
Remove outdoor pet food
Pick up fallen fruit
Remove bird feeders
Trim overgrown landscaping
Don’t water your lawn at night
Supervise small children at play
Never feed coyotes! Most conflicts occur when coyotes associate people with food. This alters their behavior and makes them more dangerous.
Will you release an animal back to where I found it?
Sometimes it is important to release animals back to their own territory, but other times it is not essential. California Wildlife Center staff will consider an animal’s individual case and make this determination at the time of release. In each case, it is important that we know where the animal was found and what the circumstances of the injury were at its time of admittance.
Can I see California Wildlife Center’s patients?
Our patients are protected by federal privacy rules similar to those governing a human hospital. Human and non-human patients alike may not be put on display.
Will someone call me to tell me how the animal I found is doing?
Given the large number of animal intakes per day and the number of patients on site, we are unable to contact individuals to give patient updates. If you would like an update on the patient you brought in, please contact our Hospital at (310) 458-9453 with the Intake Number you were given for the animal and our staff will be happy to help.
How is California Wildlife Center funded?
CWC is a nonprofit organization that receives funds from the generous support of local individuals, families, foundations, and businesses who contribute in the form of memberships, private donations, grants, fundraising events and foundation support. CWC receives no regular ongoing state or federal funding for our services.