2020 Summer Newsletter | Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
"The Earth has music for those who listen."
- Unknown
A Message from our Executive Director
Nicole Carion Retires
When you hear the name Nicole, some of you may think of the beautiful and powerful female mountain lion who lives here as an education ambassador for her species. When I hear the name Nicole, I think of our California Department of Fish and Wildlife Rehabilitation supervisor Nicole Carion who just retired. I named the young kitten after Nicole for so many good reasons.

Nicole was the Senior Environmental Scientist for the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory and supervised all of the licensed wildlife rehabilitation and education facilities in the state of California, which we are one of eighty-eight. Part of Nicole’s job was to ensure the high quality practices in the rehabilitation of sick, injured, orphaned or displaced California wildlife. Nicole also dealt with wild animals listed as “restricted species”. These animals come through the Department’s hands and are usually confiscated because of illegal possession or other problems usually related to human conflicts.

Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue has been on the receiving end of many restricted species, particularly mountain lion kittens. Through mutual trust and support between us and the Department, we have a strong partnership that was mainly fostered by Nicole. She believed that some of the challenging species to rehabilitate like mountain lions and black bear cubs, could possibly have a chance returning to the wild, on a case-by case evaluation with strong professional rehabilitation practices in place. Because of this, she just authorized our Bear Cub Rehabilitation Permit, which we are one of only 3 in the entire state. That is a beautiful opportunity she gave us that will always be a respected honor.

Nicole had a very unique contribution in her role as our supervisor. She really understood the challenges, hardships and joyful moments of a professional rehabilitator. I was always in awe of this special gift and just recently found out she volunteered at the Folsom Zoo when she was 19 years old and was drawn to supporting the wildlife rehabilitation efforts of this facility. When combined with the vast scientific background she acquired through her years of experience with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, she became a powerful advocate for us in this field. She actually listened to what we needed and worked with us to solve many problems that were seldom addressed in the past.

I could fill pages with all of the amazing contributions Nicole made during her 27 year career with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, but I will end this with how much we appreciated Nicole Carion and with everything she helped us advance in as professionals. She worked tirelessly to make the lives of all wildlife better within the Department, to the public and for us wildlife rehabilitators. Our not-so little mountain lion Nicole has done similar things in her education with the hundreds of adults and children that visit us to learn about the importance and value wildlife contributes to our planet. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue will continue to work hard to uphold the high standards and ethics that Nicole believed in and were her everyday practices and part of the reason why she came to us to help. Nicole will always be a strong advocate for wildlife and my hero as well.

Thank you to Nicole and Nicole.

Doris Duncan
Executive Director
Event Updates
Fall Internship at SCWR

Interns wanted! Are you considering pursuing a career in the animal care field? Do you want to know what it's like to work in wildlife rehabilitation?

Follow the link to our website below to find out more information and to start the application process! Fall applications are due by July 31st! Apply today!

Public and Private Tours Reopen at SCWR

We're happy to announce that public and private tours have reopened at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue! Our summer tour times are at 12 PM and 2 PM. Tour groups will be limited to 10 people per time slot and reservations are required. Please call 707-992-0274 to make your reservation today!

To keep everyone as safe as possible during the pandemic, we have created a set of guidelines for both public and private tours that can be viewed here .
Virtual Tours with SCWR

Just like wildlife have to adapt to the conditions that they are presented with in the wild, we have had to adapt to a new way of living during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This inspired us to start giving virtual tours of our center through social media. Our hope is that we are able to reach and inspire kids and adults to learn about our local wildlife and the challenges they face.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've covered a lot of ground with live streams filmed both inside and outside of our rescue. From patient updates, to enrichment for educational ambassadors and even a couple of live releases, we love sharing all of the current happenings at our wildlife rescue with you. Follow us on Facebook for updates on our next virtual tours! Our videos will also be available on our website and on YouTube after they have streamed.
July 8, 2020
Live Stream Skunk Release
Petaluma, CA
Community Spotlight
Park Avenue Turf

Our three little beavers have moved to an outdoor enclosure thanks to Park Avenue Turf ! Ready to move from our hospital into an outdoor enclosure, these beavers still needed to complete a 2 week quarantine before moving into the Aquatic Mammal Enclosure where they will spend the rest of their rehabilitation. Our outdoor quarantine enclosures, also known as our Isolation Community, are completely separated from other parts of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Community and each enclosure is outfitted with concrete floors so that they can be easily sanitized in between wildlife patients. Since wildlife patients spend little time in this area, the unnatural concrete flooring does not pose an issue but the case is much different with beavers.

Beavers spend the majority of their lives in the water, therefore they have large buoyant bodies and soft webbed feet. Their tails are also an extremely important tool for the beavers, not only do they use them as rudders when swimming , they also use them as a defensive mechanism, slapping the water to make a loud splash to ward off predators. Both of these unique characteristics prove to be extremely problematic when you have beavers living on hard concrete surfaces for any amount of time. Their heavy bodies weigh on the pads of their feet outside of the water and the friction against concrete can severely injure the pads of their feet and tail. Also, if a beaver were to feel threatened while on concrete and decide to slap it's tail, the tail could shatter causing a life threatening injury. With all of this in mind, outfitting our isolation enclosure with sod is the perfect solution. Having worked with beavers many times before, we knew just who to call!

Park Avenue Turf has donated sod to us several times over the years and this time was no exception. Not only were they extremely happy to help us again, they even put a rush on the order after they learned that these kits were making a mess of our hospital. We're so grateful to Park Avenue Turf and send them countless thanks for answering the call every time we've asked.

If you're interested in learning about the products services Park Avenue Turf offers, please visit their website at https://parkavenueturf.com/.
BOMP Corner - Emergency Box Repair
From time to time, we get a call through our Wildlife Hotline for an active nest inside of a barn owl box that is falling apart. Thanks to BOMP, this is a call that we are uniquely qualified to handle.

In mid-June, we received such a call from a renter that was concerned because a barn owl box on the property was falling apart and they were almost certain chicks were inside. Sending us the photo to the right, Doris Duncan and Kelsey James left Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue to get a closer look at the situation. Upon arrival, Doris quickly scaled our tallest ladder to get a look inside of the box and discovered 5 owlets inside. While up there, she was also able to get an up close look at the box. At first glance, it was apparent that even moderate wind could cause the box to break, spilling the owlets to the ground below, subjecting them to injury and predation. These situations are extremely delicate as moving the barn owls into a new box would likely orphan them. The best chance for these owls to successfully fledge from the nest meant that we needed to fix this decomposing box well enough to last the rest of their nesting period.

While maintenance and box repair is a service provided through BOMP with a service charge attached, it became known to us shortly after arrival that the previous owner of the box had passed away. As a result, the box had not been serviced in many years, likely leaving it in it's current condition and without the funds to repair it. With that, Doris knew that she had to protect the owls first and worry about the cost of repairs later. The next day, Doris and BOMP volunteer, Tory Monticello, set out to repair the box.

Repairs to a crumbling box are hard enough, but there were a few factors that made this rescue even more difficult. First, the box was installed 15 feet high, much higher than our recommended height of 10 feet, making work on the ladder tricky and dangerous. Second, the box did not have a maintenance flap to clean out the debris within. The weight of the feces inside of the box likely caused it's break to begin with and squaring up the box with the feces inside would leave very little room for the 5 nearly full grown owlets. This lack of space in a box can cause feather damage while also risking that siblings will push each other out of the nest long before they are ready to fly. Combine the lack of a maintenance flap with the tall ladder height, removing the debris inside goes from being difficult to to tedious. Additionally, given the nature of the visit, the owlets needed to be removed from the box while the necessary repairs and maintenance were completed. This meant that while standing on a 15 foot ladder next to an unstable barn owl box, Doris had to reach in through the hole and grab each owlet, then climb down the ladder, one owl at a time, until all of the chicks were out. Despite all of this, the repairs were made, the box was cleaned and the owls were then placed back inside their newly repaired box, sure to last them the last few weeks of their nesting period.

While the maintenance service of the box is something that we would typically charge for through our BOMP Program, the extenuating circumstances surrounding the ownership of this box made that impossible. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue gladly donated their time into making sure these owls had a safe place to finish growing. Please consider donating today so that we can continue helping in situations like these.
A severely compromised barn owl box with 5 owlets inside.
Executive Director, Doris Duncan, carefully approaches the breaking barn owl box.
SCWR Volunteer, Tory Monticello, makes repairs to the barn owl box.
Five young barn owls returned to their newly repaired and cleaned barn owl box.
Animal Care Spotlight
A New Phase of Development in the Aquatic Mammal Enclosure
“If you build it, they will come” is a saying used often around Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue when discussing development projects. For the past couple of years, the saying has proven especially true for our Aquatic Mammal Enclosure (AME) which has been in constant use since November 2018. Since then, the AME has been home to many orphaned otters and beavers whose rehabilitation is as long, as it is specialized.

We built this enclosure in 2013 with the help of Aquascape Custom Crafted Pools owner, Todd Hendrickson. Todd donated and installed the custom pool that allows our wildlife patients the opportunity to live in an enclosure as close as possible to their natural habitats. Since then, we’ve been able to see this enclosure bustle with life and help many aquatic mammals get back to their lives in the wild.

Most recently, we received a trio of orphaned beavers that were transferred from Gold Country Wildlife Rescue for continued care. As beavers do not leave their parents in the wild until they are nearly two years old, these 3 need long-term care supported by the AME. As a very social species, the three beavers are thriving together and are noticeably more confident and independent compared to other beavers that have come in by themselves. In addition to beavers, the Aquatic Mammal Enclosure has also been home to several orphaned otters over the past few years. While these animals don’t stay with us nearly as long, they still have a prolonged rehabilitation period when compared to other species - often staying with us for around 6 months. This year, we have one orphaned otter found in Sonoma, CA that will be sharing the AME with our three beavers while they learn the necessary life skills to return to the wild.

This consistent increase in young aquatic mammals has pushed us to the next phase of our Aquatic Mammal Enclosure’s development, the AME Nursery. Since otters rely on their parents to learn how to swim, their care is very specialized when they come in as young orphans. When they first arrive, they are not able to go straight to the AME and are often housed in the hospital or in a fully enclosed space in our Wildlife Rehabilitation Community. They learn to swim in a small pool under the direct supervision of staff and while we’ve had good success with this method so far, this type of involvement with our staff only increases the chances that a young otter could become too habituated to humans for release into the wild. This new addition to the AME will help to solve this issue.

Housed inside the existing infrastructure of the Aquatic Mammal Enclosure, the nursery will have the ability to be isolated from the rest of the enclosure, giving our young wildlife their own area to thrive while allowing older patients to have full access to the large pond. The nursery will be equipped with a smaller den house and a small nursery pond that will have gradual sloped edges for young animals to easily walk in and out. This will allow the otters to learn to swim with staff not needing to handle their entry and exit out of the pool.

This area’s development has been in the works for a couple of years but with the increase in patients, the nursery has been moving forward full steam ahead this summer. As a nonprofit rescue, projects like this would not be possible without the help of our community. So far, a few very dedicated people have answered the call to help and we would like to take the time to thank them. Developing the area began in the winter of 2019 thanks to several Coast Guard volunteers who spent their days off tediously digging out tree stumps in the area. Longtime SCWR Volunteers, Jack, Marjorie and Jackson Winters jump started construction this spring by building the new custom den house where the otters will live while in transition from the hospital to the large pond. Rounding out the project, Dan Hendrickson and Robyn Newkirk of Hendrickson Pools have generously offered donate and install the nursery pool with the construction set to begin at the end of July. Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is extremely grateful to our dedicated volunteers and community members who make projects like these possible.

While the main pieces of the Aquatic Mammal Enclosure are coming together, there are various other items that will need further construction and materials. If you would like to donate to the construction costs of the Aquatic Mammal Enclosure, please click the link below.
Support Your Local Wildlife!
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Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization that relies on donations from the public to rehabilitate the 1,000+ animals we receive each year. We do not receive any government funding. Our annual operating budget is $950,000, which means it costs almost $2,600 per day to keep our doors open.  Any donation helps!
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