Morro Bay, CA, October 7, 2013—A matching fund has been established that will double all donations to Pacific Wildlife Care’s “Fund Our Vet” campaign.
A full-time on-site veterinarian, Dr. Shannon Riggs, was first hired at Pacific Wildlife Care (PWC) in January, 2013 as Director of Animal Care. Since then, survival rates have improved significantly, from 35% in January to 62% from March to October—well above the national average. The current funding effort aims at securing Riggs’ services through 2014.
Dr. Riggs oversees the work of skilled Senior Rehabilitators and 120 volunteers, optimizing efforts to provide prompt, expert care at PWC, whose mission is to treat and return to the natural habitat injured, orphaned, and pollution-damaged wildlife in San Luis Obispo County. The center has steadily expanded its capacity, volunteer base, and number of animals treated—taking in 2,336 animals in 2012.
Due to Riggs’ expertise, more animals are rehabilitated than could have been otherwise, such as a turkey vulture, recently released near Cal Poly, that was brought to the center with two broken wings—or a pelican that was admitted wrapped in fishing line and fish hooks, with a fish carcass in its esophagus and spines protruding from its pouch. Dr. Riggs reached down into its throat and pulled out a large rockfish. The pelican recovered and was released October 4.
Donations to the “Fund Our Vet” campaign will be matched, dollar for dollar, until January 15, 2014, although earlier donations will allow the center to better plan for the coming year.
For more about Pacific Wildlife Care, to make a donation to Fund Our Vet, or to learn about volunteer orientation, go to http://www.pacificwildlifecare.org/
And now….a story from our Vet, Shannon Riggs, DVM
Great horned owl #13-757 arrived at Pacific Wildlife Care on May 28 after being found entangled in a barbed wire fence. The bird’s rescuer was able to cut the small section of fence around which the bird’s right wing was wrapped and bring the bird to the clinic.
GHOW 757 sustained a significant injury to the underside of the patagium (or “wing web”) of the right wing. A single barb had become embedded in the skin and, while struggling to free himself, the owl wrapped the skin tightly around the barb, tearing the skin. The result was a large open wound approximately three inches in diameter. Luckily, there was not significant damage to muscle or tendons and the bird was in good condition otherwise so, despite this severe injury, we decided to try working with this bird.
Barbed wire entanglement is relatively common injury for birds of prey, especially great horned owls. The birds apparently don’t see the wire, or that there are barbs on the wire, and become caught, usually by a wing, as they are trying to fly through. In struggling to free themselves, the birds often become more tightly trapped, wrapping themselves repeatedly around the wire. The tightening acts like a tourniquet, compromising blood supply to the entangled wing. Often, so much damage is done, both from the initial injury and from later loss of tissue due to the constriction, that these cases are not salvageable.
Because the skin that had been covering the wound site was so damaged on this owl, it was no longer viable and could not be used to repair the defect. Because the skin of the patagium is stretched taut in flight, there is very little extra skin around the injured area that can be moved over such a large defect. We were therefore left with having to manage the injury as an open wound. Potential complications that are of concern are the potential for infection and loss of viability of exposed muscle, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves.
The owl was started on medications to prevent infection and to manage pain. Luckily, the owl ate well on his own from the beginning, so his handling could be decreased by placing his medications into food items. Daily dressing changes were performed, applying wound care products that keep tissue hydrated and promote healing. Two weeks after admission, when the wound was looking clean and healthy, we decided to try a type of tissue graft. Specially treated porcine tissue, a commercially available product used as a tissue patch, was affixed over the wound under anesthesia. We continued to manage the wound 2-3 times per week, cleaning the tissue graft site and applying gel to keep the graft hydrated. Unfortunately, after approximately 2 weeks, the graft was no longer viable and had to be removed. We then found another product, a biological glass substance, which stimulates growth of new blood vessels and therefore healing.
The owl has shown a good response to this treatment. Over the past month, the wound has been checked, cleaned, and a new dressing applied twice weekly. The wound has contracted significantly without the formation of scar tissue, which would have impaired the ability of the wing to extend fully. At this point, it seems that the owl is making significant strides toward release. While it is always impossible to make predictions about wildlife cases, as any number of things can happen that could change the course of a patient’s rehabilitation, if things continue as they have been, the prospects for this owl’s release are good. It will likely still be several weeks before we will know for certain, but we are hopeful that this owl will be able to return to his wild life.
Pacific Wildlife Care could not do it’s lifesaving work without our legion of volunteers. PWC currently has over 80 Center Volunteers, 50 Transporters, 20 Phone Volunteers and 50 Home Rehabbers. Recently, we have several new “Front Desk” and “Bookkeeping” volunteers who now help answer phones, attempt to keep up with data input, check the mail, enter receipts, and help with intakes on wildlife brought in by the public. Thank you: Dorothy Correa, Joyce Pardue, Pati Scott, JoDea Harry
As an organization, the Board of Directors understands that we have grown to the point of needing an Executive Director as well as needing an Office Manager (however, funding is not yet available for such important, organization-stabilizing jobs); so, in the meantime, we rely heavily on our wonderful volunteers!
It’s such a rewarding experience to recognize that our volunteers, when they see or realize a “need” for PWC, step up, take initiative and just “do it!”
From Kelly Cherry (who stepped up to help with the Center and Phone Volunteer’s calendar and email reminders), to Christine Lanier (who saw the need to start up “Critter Corner” – a newsletter just for the Center Volunteers), to Shawn Brown (who saw the need for one-on-one mentoring sessions for new volunteers), to Gary Bendetti (who fixed the precarious cage washing area), to Karen Venditti (who has taken over gathering info for and emailing out “Critter Corner”), to Richard Grise (who will get the word out to our volunteers about Oiled Wildlife Care Network trainings), to Kathleen Dillon (who helped coordinate the recent Center remodel), to our volunteer Tech Guru / President / Treasurer Dave Klinzman (who as supported the organization beyond measure); we are all so very appreciative for the vision you had and the time you committed to PWC!
The organization benefits from each and every volunteer who gives of their time, ideas and skills.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Look for information on the Volunteer Appreciation Picnic to be scheduled in late summer or early fall…
This is the first White Pelican the Center has seen. It is a protected bird in California, yet this did not stop someone from shooting it twice. A good samaritan spotted the bird hitting a tree and falling to the ground, and called PWC to come get it. The shots were reported to California Department of Fish and Game, but unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. But on a lighter note, the bullets only grazed the bird’s flank, and the bird is doing very well. He was released on Monday after we dressed his wounds and monitored him for 2 days.
The American White Pelican is a magnificent bird. For some comparison:
_____________Brown Pelican vs White Pelican
Avg Body Length 42-54 inches 50-70 inches
Avg Wing Span 72-98 inches 95-120 inches
Avg Weight 6-12 lbs 11-20 lbs
Unlike the Brown Pelican, the White Pelican does not dive for its food, but rather swims. It also is not in the habit of begging for food, so we humans do not see the White Pelican as often as the Brown Pelican. But when we do get to see one, it is quite a magnificent sight.
If you would like to show your support of an organization helping animals such as this one that fall victim to cruelty and misfortune, then make a donation!
With the Holidays rolling around, I know what a lot of you are thinking: What should I do for my holiday card this year? You may also be thinking about what gifts to buy, and whether maybe you should donate to a non-profit organization to spread the love a bit. Well here is a solution to TWO of those questions: Pacific Wildlife Care “Wildcards”.
Visit www.clevenash.com to view the amazing wildlife photos captured by local nature photographer, Cleve Nash. He’ll feature your selected photo on the front of each card and will add your preferred greeting and name inside. Ordering and contact information are also available on the website. Wildcards and envelopes are sold in packages of 10, starting at $15 for note size cards. All orders will be delivered to the PWC center for you to pay for and pick up. Cleve has generously offered to donate the money he receives from customers who mention Pacific Wildlife Care to our Center. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to send memorable holiday greetings to all of your friends and support PWC.
We thank you for your ongoing support!
How do you tell the difference between a Clark’s Grebe and a Western Grebe?
Well, pictured below, the Western grebe has a straight, yellow-green bill. Right around the eyes, the plumage is black. When they are young, their downy is grey.
The Clark’s Grebe, below, has a bright yellow, slightly upturned beak. Right around the eyes, the plumage is white. The downy young appear white, not grey.
Both types of Grebes will nest inland on large lakes and then migrate to the Pacific coast in winter. They make floating nests of plant material concealed among reeds. They have a very spectacular courtship display where two birds will rear up and patter across the water. Their young are relatively mature and mobile, and can swim immediately after birth. They are all excellent swimmers, owing this to their lobed toes.
They hunt by diving under water to catch carp, herring, mollusks, crabs, and salamanders. By pressing their feathers against the body, grebes can adjust their buoyancy. Often, they swim low in the water with just the head and neck exposed.
If you spot any grebes on lakes or on the coast this winter, snap a good photo and send it in to us!
If you are ever crossing the parking lot of an Albertsons and you hear a voice asking “Have YOU heard of PWC,” it is most likely coming out of a very tiny person named Rosemary. She draws in the crowd and educates while David mans the booth, pulls out the handouts, and thanks the donators profusely.
These two superhuman activists have a booth with a billion and 1 hand-outs on every topic you can imagine. Need instructions on how to make an owl box? Done. How to get the skunk smell out of clothes? Got it.
They take their booth to all of our events, as well as farmers markets, and even to the grocery store parking lots. They also put out a poster of photos, flyers, stuffed animals, candies, and a plastic jug for donations. This past year, they estimate that they have raised somewhere around $3,200 through the booth!
In their free time, they collect fishing line from piers and visit fish cleaning stations to teach the fishermen about safe fishing practices. And as if that’s not enough, you can also find them at the center volunteering with ALL sorts of tasks. Sometimes I just want to say, “Jeez you guys, you’re making the rest of us look like slackers!”
They have been with the center for 6 years now, but their zest and liveliness for the cause has not diminished at all. They like to tell the story about the first release they ever witnessed. They said it was a red tailed hawk release. They and a few others took the hawk back to where it was found, and within minutes of the release, he had found his mate once more and they reunited! It was a truly moving experience for them, and they passionately want to share this with others. They often tell me, “If we can change just one person’s mind about wildlife, then we have done our job.” But I can assure you they have changed far more than that.