Tag Archives: wildlife protection

Proper Handling of Euthanized Animals Critical to Protect Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed three recent incidents of pentobarbital poisoning in raptors and would like to remind veterinarians and the public about proper handling of euthanized companion animals, horses, livestock and poultry to prevent further incidents. Any animal that has been chemically euthanized must be cremated or buried at least three to four feet deep to prevent exposing scavenging wildlife to euthanasia drugs.

Since 2015, several turkey vultures in Marin and Ventura counties, and a bald eagle in Fresno County have been brought to wildlife rehabilitation centers after being exposed to the veterinary euthanasia drug pentobarbital. The source of the pentobarbital remains unknown for all three incidents but it is very likely due to improper handling of the remains of euthanized companion animals, horses, livestock or poultry. Veterinarians and animal owners are responsible for disposing of animal remains properly by legal methods such as cremation or deep burial. Clear communication between the veterinarian and client is essential to ensure that euthanized remains are handled properly.

Bald eagles are federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and both bald eagles and turkey vultures are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and California Fish and Game Code. Members of the veterinary and livestock communities are asked to share this information with colleagues and the public in an effort to prevent further incidents.

CDFW also asks the public to promptly report any wildlife scavenger suspected of being exposed to euthanasia drugs. Rehabilitation of pentobarbital-poisoned wildlife has been successful with prompt treatment. Pentobarbital-poisoned wildlife may appear dead. They often have no reflex response and breathing may be barely detectable but will otherwise appear intact, without wounds or obvious trauma. Incidents and information about possible sources of poisoning may be reported to the CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory by phone at (916) 358-2790, by email at WILab@wildlife.ca.gov or online via the CDFW website.

If grounded birds are observed, please contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center.

For more information, please see the USFWS Fact Sheet “Secondary Pentobarbital Poisoning of Wildlife.”

Photos courtesy of Louise Culver, Critter Creek Wildlife Station

An adult bald eagle is taken from a large pet carrier, to be released.
Recovered bald eagle about to be released.
An adult bald eagle lies, comatose, in a narrow, padded, plastic container.
Bald eagle, comatose from pentobarbital poisoning.

 

 

 

 

Media Contacts:
Stella McMillin, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2954
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Leave Young Wildlife Alone

With late spring and early summer being the peak time for California’s wildlife to bear their young, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is issuing a reminder to well-intentioned citizens: If you find a seemingly abandoned young wild animal, you should leave it alone.

Even though it may be hard to resist picking up a young wild animal that appears to be abandoned, intervention may cause more harm than good.  Young animals that are removed from their natural environment typically do not survive. Those that do may not develop wilderness survival skills, making them unsuitable for release back into their natural habitat.

“It is a common mistake to believe a young animal has been abandoned when it is found alone, even if the mother has not been observed in the area for a long period of time,” said Nicole Carion, CDFW’s statewide wildlife rehabilitation coordinator. “Chances are the mother is off seeking food, or she could be nearby, waiting for you to leave.”

Carion noted that this behavior is common across many species. For example, adult female deer often stash their fawns in tall grass or brush for many hours while they are out foraging for food. A female mountain lion may spend as much as 50 percent of her time away from her kittens.

If a young animal is in distress, or you are unsure, contact a wildlife rehabilitation facility and speak to personnel to determine the best course of action.  For an injured, orphaned or sick bear, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, wild pig or mountain lion, contact CDFW directly, as most wildlife rehabilitators are only allowed to possess small mammals and birds.  Although some wildlife rehabilitators are allowed to accept fawns, injured or sick adult deer should be reported directly to CDFW for public safety reasons.

Anyone who removes a young animal from the wild is required to notify CDFW or take the animal to a state and federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator within 48 hours. These animals may need specialized care and feeding that is best done by trained wildlife care specialists.

It is important to note that wild animals – even young ones – can cause serious injury with their sharp claws, hooves and teeth, especially when injured and scared. They may also carry ticks, fleas and lice, and can transmit diseases to humans, including rabies and tularemia.

To learn more about how to live and recreate responsibly where wildlife is near, please visit CDFW’s Keep Me Wild website at www.keepmewild.org.

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Media Contacts:
Nicole Carion, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (530) 357-3986
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933

 

 

There’s Still Time to Help Wildlife With Your State Income Tax Return

With tax returns due April 18, time is running out, but you can still help California’s rare, threatened and endangered species when you file your state return. In the Voluntary Contributions section you can donate any dollar amount to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 and the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403. These special funds help support California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) endangered species research and conservation programs.

California’s sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were driven nearly to extinction, then given legal protection that has allowed the population to grow. In recent years, that growth stagnated, and is just starting to grow again, to a few more than 3,000 sea otters in California waters. This small population is vulnerable to oil spills, chemicals and other pollutants in road and agricultural run-off, predation by white sharks and other threats.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund (line 410) are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. Those contributions have funded studies that link many sea otter deaths to polluted runoff, including fecal parasites, bacterial toxins and chemicals related to coastal land use.

The Southern sea otter is fully protected by the State of California, and take is not allowed except for scientific research and recovery purposes. Additionally, the sea otter is federally listed, and it is illegal to harass, pursue, hunt, catch, capture or kill, or attempt any of those actions on such listed species. Yet, just last year, four were shot and many others were intentionally harassed by people. The California Sea Otter Fund also supports a growing program to reduce human disturbance to sea otters.

Another 83 species of animals and 219 plants are listed by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. Donations to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program (line 403) pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat.

Past donations to this program have enabled biologists to study the Livermore tarplant (Deinandra bacigalupii) and the critically endangered Slender-petaled mustard (Thelypodium stenopetalum), and implement conservation efforts for the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis), California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), Giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas),Tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) and Desert pupfish (Cyprinodon macularius).

“There is no upper limit to voluntary contributions; any dollar amount is welcome. But, with so many species in need of conservation efforts and given the size of the Golden State, we’d like to encourage higher donations,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Esther Burkett. “Can Californians beat last year’s average of $15 per household? These plants and animals are part of our heritage and need your support to survive and thrive.”

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403. If you use Turbo Tax, when you’re near the end of your tax return it should ask if you want to make a voluntary contribution to a special fund. Click “Yes” and go to lines 403 and 410.

CDFW biologists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. More information about how CDFW uses funds in the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program and Sea Otter program is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/tax-donation and at www.facebook.com/seaotterfundcdfw.

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Media Contact:
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Wolf OR7 Federally Protected by the Endangered Species Act

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937                      Scott Flaherty, USFWS (916) 978-6156

The gray wolf designated OR7 has remained in California since he crossed the state line on Dec. 28. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) closely monitors the wolf’s position and progress, and will report on his status through a new website at www.dfg.ca.gov/wolf.

While OR7 is the only documented wolf in California, any wild gray wolf that returns to California is protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act, administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The federal law generally prohibits the harassment, harm, pursuit, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capture or collection of wolves in California, or the attempt to engage in any such conduct. Penalties include fines up to $100,000 and one-year imprisonment.

Though many sightings have been reported, all other recent “wolf” sightings that have been investigated in California have been found to be something else, such as a coyote, a dog or a hybrid wolf-dog. Despite reports to the contrary, DFG is not aware of confirmed sightings of other wolves in California since 1924. A helpful graphic to help distinguish a wolf from a coyote is available at fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/management/wolf/wolfCoyote.html.

Concerns about human safety are largely based on folklore and are unsubstantiated. In recent years there was one human mortality in Canada caused either by wolves or bears and one confirmed human mortality in Alaska by wolves. Based on experience from states where substantial wolf populations now exist, wolves pose little risk to humans. However, DFG recommends that people never approach a wolf, or otherwise interact with or feed a wolf.  Farmers and ranchers can reduce the likelihood of attracting wolves and other predators by removing potential sources of food and other attractants from their land such as discarded animal carcasses, bone piles, etc. More about how to avoid human-wildlife interactions can be found on DFG’s website at www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/ or www.dfg.ca.gov/wolf.

OR7 is a 2 ½ year old male formerly from a pack in northeast Oregon. He is being monitored through various means, including with a Global Positioning System (GPS) device that periodically transmits its location. It is not possible to predict his next movements, but he has remained in eastern Lassen County for approximately one week. DFG is notifying media, local officials and landowners of OR7’s general whereabouts.

DFG has been following the recovery and migration of gray wolves in western states with the expectation that at some point they will likely reach California. The last confirmed wild gray wolf in California was killed in Lassen County in 1924. The available historic information on wolves in California suggests that while they were widely distributed, they were not abundant. DFG has summarized information about wolves in California which can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/wolf/docs/Gray_Wolf_Report_2012.pdf.