Animal Patient StoriesThis page is dedicated to our wildlife patients. It shows snapshots of some of the work done at W.E.R.C. With your generous donations, we can continue to provide injured and orphaned wildlife the medical care, proper nutrition, shelter, and other necessities so they can be released healthy, wild, and free. Please continue to check this site for frequent updates.
Baby bobcat comes to W.E.R.C.'s Bobcat Nursery
- This little bobcat kitten was found June 8th on a trail above the Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo County. It was extremely weak and could barely stand. The rescuer called various wildlife agencies and was referred to the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center in Morgan Hill. W.E.R.C. is internationally renowned for its rehabilitation program for orphaned bobcat kittens.
The rescuer transported the kitten all the way to Princevalle Pet Hospital in Gilroy. Dr. Suzanne Colbert's examination showed the kitten to be female, almost 2 pounds, and about 8-9 weeks old. Except for a large tick on her head and being very, very hungry, she was in good health.
The bobcat kitten will reside in WERC's onsite "nursery" for several weeks until she's strong enough to join bobcats Tilden (17 weeks old) and Morty (12 weeks old) in the large bobcat enclosure.
In the meantime, a surrogate bobcat mom, wearing a full-body bobcat costume, comes in daily to clean up, play "games" such as chase-the-twig, and bring lots of small rodents for little Crystal to eat
GOLFER HITS EAGLE . . . LITERALLY!
Golden Eagle Comes to WERC's ClinicA young Golden Eagle has had his life saved by an errant golf ball! If it hadn't been for some duffer's slice at Eagle Ridge Golf Course in Gilroy, the large raptor might never have been discovered and rescued. On June 22nd, Frank Filice was preparing for a golf tournament when he saw the eagle underneath a tree on the greens.
Since it was apparent that the bird was injured and could not stand, Mr. Filice called the Gilroy Police Department for help. The eagle was weak from starvation and was easily captured by Animal Control Officer Gary Muraoka who declared, "I'm not a very good golfer, but I got an eagle on the 8th hole at Eagle Ridge!" The bird was immediately taken it to the Princevalle Animal Hospital (Gilroy), where Dr. Suzanne Colbert performed a thorough examination. X-rays showed that the eagle had a dislocated joint in the right leg, which twisted his, leg 70 degrees and prevented him from flying and capturing prey. Just how the primary injury to the leg occurred is unknown.
Following initial treatment, the eagle was brought to W.E.R.C. for further care, and according to Sue Howell, Executive Director, "It looks like the secondary injury to the affected area was caused by a golf ball, because of size and markings of the 'divot' in the eagle's joint."
Named Orion, the eagle steadily regained his health at W.E.R.C. The next step was orthopedic surgery on August 28th. Dr James Roush, a renowned veterinary orthopedic surgeon, performed the operation in which bolts were used to straighten the eagle's leg so that he could perch comfortably. In October, after 6 weeks of daily medication, leg bandaging, and foot massage, the cast was removed and Orion transferred from his temporary indoor enclosure (a retrofitted playpen) to a small outdoor enclosure where he could stretch his wings and re-learn how to perch. Orion remains under W.E.R.C.'s rehabilitative care and is being moved into progressively larger enclosures as part of his physical therapy regimen, in order to build up his muscles in flight.
Orion will never be able to bend his leg, a necessity for catching prey and for proper flight, and therefore he would not be able to survive in the wild. Fortunately, with the assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this magnificent raptor will be placed at a licensed wildlife facility where he can proudly serve as an educational animal.
Orion, the Golden Eagle
This Golden Eagle was rescued in June at Eagle Ridge Golf Course, Gilroy. Because its right leg had been grievously injured and twisted 70 degrees, and because he was also severely malnourished, the Eagle didn't have the strength to fly away.
Update: Orion has fully recuperated from last year's surgery and W.E.R.C. is now in the process of transferring him to the Center for Birds of Prey in South Carolina as an educational animal. Orion will fly (in a plane) there later this year. He has been with us at W.E.R.C. since August 2007 and though we are thrilled at his placement, we will miss him very much.
Update: May 2009
Orion fully recuperated from his surgery and was transferred in March 2009 to the Center for Birds of Prey in South Carolina as an educational animal. He had been with us at W.E.R.C. since August 2007 and though we are thrilled at his placement, we miss him very much.
Eagle photo on this page courtesy of Lora Schraft, Gilroy Dispatch
Image Diary of Orion's Surgery here
Orion's SurgeryThe Golden Eagle's surgery on August 28th was a success %u2013 more than 2 hours worth, not counting the hours of pre- and post-op procedures.
The feathers were plucked from his leg and the dislocated joint was removed. Dr. James Roush bolted a metal plate in to connect the two bones (see x-ray).
For the next 6 weeks, Orion's leg will be kept wrapped and in a fiberglass cast. Orion is on daily antibiotics and pain medications and so far is doing well, though he remains in critical condition. He is standing, but trying to adjust comfortably to his permanently unbendable leg.
Dr. Roush suits up for Orion's surgery
While on the x-ray table, Orion's wingspan is measured: 6 feet, 1 inch! His right leg has not had the cast installed yet (note - the talons are temporarily bound for safety).
Dr. Suzanne Colbert and Vet Tech TJ prepare Orion for surgery.
The Case of the Grounded GrebeIt was a gray and foggy morning when the duck-like creature tried to make a quick get-away to a lagoon, but instead flew smack-dab onto the pavement near the Morgan Hill P.D. A cop on his way to work spotted the offender and arrested it for impeding traffic. At the Department, the bird was held for questioning, but he kept his beak shut.
The police officer's family brought it to WERC where staff investigated the situation and determined that the bird just needed a little rehabilitation and relocation, not long-term incarceration. It wasn't destined to be a jail-bird. Perusing the books (Peterson's Field Guide), the bird was ID'd as Podilymbus podiceps, aka the Pied-Billed Grebe.
Some of its other known aliases are "hell diver" and "water witch". The 13" long grebe disguises its appearance to fit the season - in winter, the distinctive black, mustache-like ring on its beak disappears. The bird's other distinguishing features are its lobed toes and legs set far back on its body---ideal adaptations for eluding the fuzz (though actually, its predators are other feathered culprits) by diving into the water or sinking like a sub with only its head visible.
The grebe is also adept at swimming with the fishes. But its legs aren't so good for pushing off from dry land; it's almost as if its feet have been shackled. It spends most of its life on the water and probably landed in the middle of the street because the wet road looked a lot like a watery sanctuary.
During the bird's probationary period, W.E.R.C. wardens kept an eye on it for a couple of days, fattening him up on lots of smelt before letting him fly the coop. He's now a freebird at an undisclosed location--a local pond filled with lots of bugs, fish and crawdads to eat.
The GopherTrue, the Gopher can cause considerable damage to lovely spring flower gardens and may eat a farmer's carefully tended organic crops. Yet despite its destructive tendencies, the rodent can be beneficial to our environment, serving as a tasty and nutritious survival meal for a multitude of native wildlife. Barn owls, hawks, snakes, bobcats, badgers, weasels, foxes, raccoons, and coyotes are some of the wild animals that hunt the rodents.
W.E.R.C. doesn't admit rodents to its Center. But because of unusual circumstances, it has rehabilitated two injured Pocket Gophers as educational ambassadors, which are special, non-releasable animals that help to educate the public on the importance of our local native wildlife. In February, a local family was proudly presented a gopher-gift by their cat. Since the gopher had only superficial wounds and was a youngster, it made an excellent animal to join W.E.R.C.'s educational team. The little critter has been named "Patches" for the new fur growing out on its old wounds.