Fishing Line and Hooks

Fishing line pollution is an entirely preventable hazard.

Water birds, songbirds and birds of prey, as well as some wild mammals, are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing line and hooks left in streams, on banks or hanging from bushes and trees. Pets, especially dogs, and people, can also run afoul of fishing line pollution.   

What can you do? 

If you are the person fishing, take responsibility for removing tangled line and hooks before you leave your fishing spot. In most instances, it won’t take much time or effort. At the worst, you may have to wade into a cool stream or pond to retrieve the broken line.

If you are simply visiting the stream or pond and spot discarded line and hooks, be kind and take a little time to remove some of the offending hooks and line. 

Be sure to discard the fishing line and hooks securely and safely. If this material is left in an open trash can or dumpster, wildlife is still at risk of entanglement.

If you find a wild bird or mammal tangled in fishing line, cut it free from the line, place in a snug, padded container, and call Wildcare Eastern Sierra. The animal may have sustained injuries from line or hook and could be dehydrated or starving as well.

Helpline: (760) 872-1487

Window Strikes

 A Golden Eagle flew into this truck windshield. You can take precautions to help prevent window strikes. 

A Golden Eagle flew into this truck windshield. You can take precautions to help prevent window strikes. 

Birds of all kinds fly into windows, glass doors and skylights, resulting in many of the bird injuries we treat.

 

Birds hit windows for many reasons: 

A flying bird sees sky and trees reflected in the glass and thinks that there is a space there that he can pass through. (Your local birds usually learn what is a window and what isn’t, but birds migrating through your neighborhood may become confused.)

Sometimes a bird sees her reflection in the window and thinks it is an intruder and tries to chase it away.

A bird is frightened or chased by a hunting hawk; in his panic, he flies straight into the window.

Many cat-caught birds hit windows first.

Help prevent window strikes:

You can shine a light from inside the house onto the window the birds fly into and wash out the reflection.

Pulling drapes or lowering blinds can help some, but there may still be a reflection.

Static cling decals will not keep a bird flying from a hawk safe, but will help in other ways. You can purchase special decals such as Window Alert (http://windowalert.com) or others from stores like Wild Bird Centers. 

Hawk silhouettes can be produced inexpensively and simply taped to the problem window. The shape of this predator alerts the flying birds and they will steer away from it. Download one HERE to print out.

Used DVDs or computer disks hung on the outside of your window are a great way to help birds spot the danger. Colored ribbons or reflective tape (often sold to keep birds off of fruit trees) can also be hung in front of problem windows.

Products and materials:

If a bird does hit your window, pick it up immediately, put it in a snug, padded container, place the container in a warm, dark place (a heating pad on low under half of the box is recommended), and call Wildcare Eastern Sierra.

Helpline: (760) 872-1487

Moving Vehicles

 This young coyote was found with a leg injury on the side of the road and brought to our rehab, where he was treated and released. 

This young coyote was found with a leg injury on the side of the road and brought to our rehab, where he was treated and released. 

Vehicles are the greatest single cause of injuries to wildlife.

More than a million wild animals are killed on roads and highways every day of the year. Many more are injured. We’re not going to give up our cars and trucks but we can do some things to help prevent birds and mammals from being hit by them.

Remember that our wild neighbors also need to use and cross roads. Many birds and mammals hunt and forage along roads and highways.  Stay alert and watch ahead for birds or mammals in the road. Slow down and give them time to get away. Don’t assume that birds will “always fly away.”

A high percentage of wildlife hit by vehicles are feeding on roadkill. You can help by removing roadkill from traffic lanes and shoulders. Be sure that you are safe while doing so.

Certain places attract wildlife. Notice those places on your regular driving routes where streams cross under the highway or where you have seen raptors perching or deer grazing. Pay attention, especially near dusk and dawn.Deer crossing signs mean just that. They are placed where it is known that the animals often cross the road. Activity will increase during spring or fall when the deer are moving up or down slope. Near dusk and dawn are the most critical time for deer and elk. Be alert: hitting a deer can be dangerous for you as well as the deer.

Many thousands of wild animals hit by cars are brought to wildlife rehab centers each year. Many of them can be helped. 

If you spot an injured bird or mammal, or if you hit one, cover with a towel or sweatshirt and place in a box or similar container. Handle gently; be careful of your eyes and watch out for talons. Wear gloves if you have them. Keep the animal warm, dark and quiet and call us. 

Helpline: (760) 872-1487

Glue Traps

 This wren was caught in a glue trap.

This wren was caught in a glue trap.

Glue traps are inhumane and unnecessary.

Also known as “glue boards," sticky glue traps are made of pieces of plastic or cardboard coated with a strong adhesive designed to trap any animal who wanders across or lands on the surface. Glue traps are both inhumane and indiscriminate, frequently trapping and killing songbirds, lizards, bats, kittens and other small mammals.
     Trapped animals suffer a cruel prolonged death of dehydration, starvation and suffocation over the course of several days. In an attempt to free themselves, animals may chew off limbs, their bodies become stuck in contorted positions that result in extreme pain, and at times they can be heard screaming. At Wildcare, we witness firsthand the horrible suffering of animals caught by glue traps, and we implore you to never use them.

 

Trapped animals suffer a cruel prolonged death of dehydration, starvation and suffocation over the course of several days.

 
 

Helpline: (760) 872-1487

Drought and it's Consequences

Scape9.jpg

Less rainfall means less food, leading to a host of secondary perils for wildlife.

Emaciation and dehydration

Scant vegetation and a poor supply of insects results in fewer small birds and mammals (prey) and that means less food for predators. 

Many of the baby season’s youngsters will fail to thrive because parents cannot find enough food for themselves and their young.

Injuries

Birds and mammals are forced to leave known territories in search of food and water. Dispersal brings them into conflict with resident wildlife and other wildlife on the move. Traveling in unknown territory also increases the likelihood of being hit by vehicles or caught by cats and dogs.

Increased parasite load

Weak, starving animals fall prey to internal and external parasites.

Secondary poisoning from rodenticides

When rodents move into human-occupied habitats in search of food, the use of rat poison increases. Rodenticide use frequently results in the poisoning of non-target animals such as eagles and owls, cats and dogs. Please call Wildcare Eastern Sierra to discuss options other than poison.

Helpline: (760) 872-1487

Power Lines

 This pelican suffered a wing injury and was treated at our care center.

This pelican suffered a wing injury and was treated at our care center.

Birds can be electrocuted by touching power lines that don't have a protective covering. 

Most of the wires that send electricity are covered with a plastic material that protects birds when they land on them. Sometimes a bird can touch an uncovered wire and not get hurt. But when a bird touches two uncovered wires at the same time, current passes through her body and she is electrocuted. 

Most of the time this happens at a power pole where two uncovered wires are too close together. When the bird (usually a large bird like an eagle, hawk or raven) spreads her wings, one touches one wire and the other touches the second wire.

The electricity from one wire (called "positive") passes through the bird’s body and reaches the other wire (called "negative"). When positive and negative come together, the bird receives a shock that can injure or kill.

A Great Horned Owl, a Prairie Falcon, a Red-Tailed Hawk and a Swainson’s Hawk are some of the birds we have treated at Wildcare Eastern Sierra because they were electrocuted. Two of these birds died as a result of their injuries, and the Swainson’s Hawk lost the end of both wings and became an education bird. Only one, the Red-tailed Hawk, survived and was released.

Power companies try to make sure that birds don’t get electrocuted, but sometimes something goes wrong and they don’t know about it. If you find a dead bird or birds under a power pole, call the power company and tell them; or you can call Wildcare Eastern Sierra. 

Helpline: (760) 872-1487

 

Cats (and Dogs)

cat hazard.jpg

Cats are natural predators. Dogs love to chase. 

We all know that wild birds and cats don’t mix very well. Although cats would prefer to chase mice, there aren’t as many mice around our homes as there are birds. Thousands of birds are caught by cats every year (some birds are caught by dogs, too).

Most of us are not ready to give up our cats (or dogs), but there are some things we can do to lessen their impact on the wild birds we enjoy having in our yards and at our feeders:

If you have a bird feeder: hang it in an area where the ground beneath and nearby is open with no places for cats to hide; keep it close enough to trees or bushes so birds can hide when a hunting hawk dives on them; sweep up fallen seed from the area beneath the feeder to keep birds from feeding on the ground where they are most vulnerable; removing fallen seed (along with keeping feeders washed and clean) will help prevent transmission of any possible disease. 

Bells on cats don’t help much, but they do help some. The bigger and louder the better.

If you are aware of birds nesting in your yard, try keeping your cats in for a few days when the babies are fledging (leaving the nest). It takes baby birds a day or two to get their flying skills up to par.

Dogs can be trained to “leave wildlife alone.” Contact Angie Tapley in the Inyo-Mono area for information on classes at (760) 937-5772.

Many cat-caught (and dog-caught) birds can be helped. Keep them warm, dark and quiet and immediately call Wildcare Eastern Sierra for help.

Helpline: (760) 872-1487

Lead Poisoning

bathing le owl.JPG

LEAD POISONING IN RAPTORS AND OTHER WILDLIFE

Lead is a heavy metal. It must be ingested into the body's gastro-intestinal system. From there, it gets into the bloodstream and organs. It also affects the central nervous system, often presenting in eagles as the inability to use the feet and toes, causing the bird to stand on its hock joints or not at all. Definitive diagnosis requires blood testing.*

The lead can only be eliminated by the administration of a chelating agent that will bind with the lead and pull it out of the body in the waste. Most commonly used in wildlife care is injectable calcium and B-complex vitamins.

 

KNOWN SOURCES OF LEAD POISONING

Wildlife may ingest lead by eating prey that contains lead in the form of lead ammunition.

Eagles, turkey vultures, and great-horned owls will eat carcasses. It is also well known that the California Condor eats carcasses and can ingest lead in the process. Lead ammunition can also be found in “gut piles.” Hunters often gut and partially butcher animals after shooting. Lead shot often fragments, sometimes into nearly microscopic ones, distributing it widely through the body.

Seabirds often ingest lead sinkers and jigs and become ill. Raptors and other predators may feed on these poisoned seabirds.

Fish-eating birds, such as bald eagles and osprey, may ingest lead directly from fish that contain lead sinkers or lures.

Waterfowl, especially "dabblers" that feed at the bottom of ponds, lakes and streams, can ingest lead pellets that may have fallen to the bottom. This can cause lead poisoning in the waterfowl and, secondarily, into those who prey on them such as bald eagles, turkey vultures, and other scavengers or predators.

Environmental contaminants such as lead batteries, lead paint, lead smelters and mining, and sewer sludge can also be sources of poisoning.

 

QUESTIONS WE HAVE ABOUT LEAD POISONING

We are in touch with biologists at U.S. Fish and Wildlife for more information about possible ingestion of lead through ground and/or water contamination. There have been some cases (not local) of raptors diagnosed with lead poisoning who frequented areas where lead mines operate or once operated. 

The questions we want answered: Can lead in the environment get into the body through drinking water? Can it get into vegetation and from there into prey species such as rabbits and ground squirrels?

Do we have sites in Inyo and Mono county where there is known lead contamination: Example: the old auto salvage yard in Benton; illegal dumping sites found out in the desert.

 

Helpline: (760) 872-1487