2023 Winter Newsletter | Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue
Our Message
A Devastating January Storm
Dear Supporters,

As we are all experiencing the powerful forces of Mother Nature together here in Sonoma County, we have had some significant damage to report. We want to share the good news and the bad news that came from that.

The four bears in our care were sleeping in-between the stages of true hibernation and torpor when a 100-foot eucalyptus tree came down during our first big storm of the new year, crushing almost the entire enclosure. The sight of this arriving early that morning was both shocking and terrifying. After a quick assessment, in the light of dawn we could not see any of the bears killed or injured under the collapsed chain-link and the fallen tree. There were also no obvious signs of escape. As it began to get a little lighter, we could see the four black bear cubs still sleeping in the packed straw of their den house. That was the best news of the day and then “Wow, I wish we could sleep that good”!
Initial assessments of the enclosure following the discovery of the damage by SCWR team members.
More good news came later in the morning when we called for help from our partners in the Community. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, who licenses us and decides which of only 4 facilities in the state get to rehabilitate bear cubs, responded to our call for help. They immediately sent 5 of their top people to help us assess the situation and figure out what could be done for the bears that were still sound asleep and oblivious to all that was going on. Hodgin and Sons Tree Care also answered our call for help and promised to come out first thing the next morning to remove the tree. They were on life-threatening calls at the time for humans. Rick Smandra owner of Kenwood Fencing also responded immediately and helped us make plans to get the bear’s damaged enclosure repaired. We had to expedite the emergency repair plans, even in the pouring rain as the bears began to wake up one by one and started wandering around and making their own assessments.
(TOP CENTER) Hodgins and Sons Tree Care Removes Large Eucalyptus Tree from enclosure. (BOTTOM LEFT) California Department of Fish and Wildlife and SCWR Staff make assessments to damage and how best to proceed with containment and rebuilding. (BOTTOM RIGHT) Rick Smandra - Kenwood Fencing, Doris Duncan - SCWR Executive Director, and Danielle McGuire - SCWR Animal Care Director discuss reinforcement of surviving section of enclosure and the demolition and replacement of damaged area.
During the time we were all working to resolve this emergency situation to keep the bears safe and prevent them from escaping, there was no talk about money or how we would pay for all this work that only the most skilled and qualified professionals could do. We are still in the process of doing that and have made a guesstimate from previous experience that this would be an amount of at least $70,000. It also escalated the need to get our Apex Predator Enclosure started as there were no options of bringing the bears anywhere else. Shelter in place was the only option.

Knowing how much the lives of our wildlife patients mean to all of us, we are reaching out now for emergency funding to help cover these costs. If you are in a position to donate, we would be so very grateful.
Photos of the site demolition in process.
The last bit of good news to report is the 100 ft. Flight Aviary where our raptors get their pre-release and cardio conditioning is still standing. We just invested a little over $125,000 to upgrade and remodel the aging enclosure that was caving in. Thanks to Kurt Amman of Bench Mark West, the birds and their caregivers will be safe now. The Raptor Recovery Center and the mountain lion enclosures are all good too. If anything happened to those enclosures during a storm, it would be a very devastating situation.

Thank you for standing by us and we look forward to sharing some uplifting stories with you as the new year progresses.
Sincerely yours,

Doris Duncan
Executive Director
If you would like to donate to help us repair our bear enclosure, please click the link below:
Updates & Events
Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue featured in North Bay Biz Magazine!
This article gives an in depth look into Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue's work and the programs we have developed to assist and educate our community. Check out the great article written by Bo Kearns here:
Join our Summer Internship Program
Baby season is fast approaching, and we are looking for caring and compassionate individuals who want to expand their knowledge and experience in wildlife rehabilitation to participate in our summer internship. The warmer months are the busiest time of the year, so interns are exposed to many opportunities to care for injured and orphaned wildlife. No previous animal care experience is required, as our team of staff members and volunteers take new interns under their “wings” to educate about the many facets of running a professional wildlife rehabilitation center.

Some common summer internship tasks include animal handling and weighing, enclosure maintenance, baby feeding, rescues, and releases. Interns are expected to take initiative, work independently, and have adept communication skills. If you are interested in applying for our summer internship program, you can find our application and more information in the link below.
Volunteer Spotlight
What I Learned at SCWR in 2022 by Samih Qureshi
The first time I visited the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Center, the large catio caught my attention. The two cats at the center were running around and happily playing in this protected indoor-outdoor play and living structure designed for domestic cats. I have a pet cat and when I learned that domestic cats are the cause of death of millions of birds every year and are best kept indoors or in protected structures like the catio, I decided I needed to build one for my cat. When I got the opportunity to take a tour of SCWR, I was mesmerized by the wolf dogs who looked like they were straight out of a popular TV show, learned how to identify bobcats with their little bobbing tails, and met the two majestic mountain lions on site. I already could tell what an amazing place this was.

I took a walk in the garden and learned how to take care of my garden while keeping it safe from wildlife. I learned about how sick animals were being taken care of on-site, including bear cubs who were hurt during the fires, and there was an effort underway to raise funds and build multiple Apex Predator Enclosures (APE) to take care of additional injured bears, the only such setup in Northern California. I also saw the raptor center and got to view the recovery area with the long hallway where raptors get to practice flying before being released back into the wild. One of the most interesting parts of the tour was when I got to witness the hustle and bustle of the on-site kitchen where staff and volunteers prepare meals for the animals, taking into account the dietary needs of each animal on-site. I also got informed about the barn owl program (BOMP) that helps set up and maintain barn owl boxes in ranches and vineyards and is a natural and environment-friendly way of pest control in farms while providing habitat for barn owls. Now I am always on the lookout for the barn owl boxes set up in the many vineyards and ranches around Sonoma!

For the past year, I have spent many days and hours at the SCWR barnyard, working on installing my livestock pen management solution oPen at the puma-proof pen with guidance from Dr. Quinton Martins of True Wild and Living with Lions. As I worked in the barnyard I enjoyed the company of the baby-doll sheep who always seemed to be alternately eating and staring into space, the very curious Nigerian dwarf goats who often nuzzled me or tried to chew on the equipment I was installing, and the very busy family of hens who clucked around me letting me know I was on their home turf. I also got to meet and learn from many who visited the barnyard. I met children and families on educational tours at the barnyard and often director Doris would stop by to encourage me, share her stories, and always be supportive of my interest in conservation. Kelsey patiently assisted me and provided help whenever I needed it and always shared feedback with me on how the installation has been performing. I’m also very grateful to Board President Hal Arbit, who spent time meeting with me and understanding the oPen system that I installed in the puma-proof pen. Through all my interactions, I have had the opportunity to observe closely the dedication of SCWR staff and volunteers who take care of the animals on site, always with a smile and enthusiasm that continues to inspire me.

The natural world around us is precious and we are all its keepers. I believe it is important for school students like me and children to get hands-on education in wildlife conservation in our communities so we can all have a better understanding of how to live life in balance with the environment around us. This past year I have learned that when we come together with common goals and a determination to make a difference, like the staff and volunteers at SCWR, we can make amazing things happen.
Samih at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Center.
Samih with Dr. Quinton Martins of True Wild in front of the Puma-Proof Pen.
Executive Director Doris Duncan, Samih, and Board President Hal Arbit.
Samih with Kelsey James from SCWR inside the Puma-Proof pen, working on the oPen system.
Interested in volunteering at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue? Our next volunteer orientation is coming up on Saturday, April 15, 2023! Read more about our volunteer program and apply online by clicking the button below.
Community Spotlight:
Hodgins and Sons Tree Care and Kenwood Fencing
Grateful does not begin to describe our feelings towards two companies who have helped us in tremendous ways during these storms. As highlighted in our opening message, Hodgins and Sons Tree Care and Kenwood Fencing both answered the call for help when a massive tree fell on our bear enclosure. Both companies, were at the property within 24 hours of our initial call and ready to help in the midst of continuous storms and difficult working conditions.

While this was the first time contacting these companies under immediate duress, it was certainly not the first time we have worked with them. Our work with both Hodgins and Sons Tree Care and Kenwood Fencing began a little over a year ago when we put a call out for help with the construction of our Apex Predator Enclosure (APE), our future and much larger enclosure for black bear cubs and mountain lions. Both companies responded to this call as well and have been an incredible help to us since our introductions.

Hodgins and Sons Tree Care has spent many days at our property preparing the site of our future APE and has helped us remove any dead or dying trees from our property over the course of the last year. Kenwood Fencing, who will be constructing the bulk of the APE heavy-duty chain-link fencing, has spent many days with us planning and getting ready for the construction phase of this project. Both of these companies have been an invaluable source of knowledge and expertise to us since day one.

We are extremely honored to have both of these companies as members of our wildlife team, and we could not be more grateful for their expertise and help in all manners of our work together. If you would like to learn more about either company, please visit their websites using the links below.
Hodgins and Sons Tree Care removes a eucalyptus tree to prepare for the construction of the APEX predator Enclosure.
Owner, Rick Smandra, of Kenwood Fencing meets with SCWR Executive Director, Doris Duncan, to discuss construction of the APEX Predator Enclosure.
Learn more about Hodgins & Sons Tree Care:
Learn more about Kenwood Fencing:
BOMP Corner
BOMPCO Celebrates 5 years in action!
Our Barn Owl Maintenance Program Coalition (BOMPCO) was created after spending 5 years in the field researching the need to improve the health and safety of barn owls using nesting boxes for breeding and shelter. BOMPCO is a network of wildlife professionals with a shared commitment to operate with the highest standards, ethics and practices in all Barn Owl Maintenance Programs. Current wildlife organizations who are actively working in BOMPCO are Napa Wildlife Rescue, Wildcare and Dr. Matthew Johnson’s team at Cal-Poly Humboldt. In 2023, BOMPCO is celebrating its 5th anniversary! Looking back on these last five years, it is incredible to see how far the coalition has come and this last year was no exception.

We began 2022, by meeting with Wild Farm Alliance and learning about their incredible work in tracking and monitoring nesting boxes. Dr. Matthew Johnson of Cal-Poly Humboldt works closely with the team there, sharing his work studying nesting barn owls. After being inspired by their mission and in particular their work with bluebird boxes, we decided to venture into our own work with bluebird boxes!
SCWR Volunteer, Lee McCann
Working with long time SCWR volunteer Lee McCann as our builder and insectivore specialist Veronica Bowers of Native Songbird Care and Conservation, we were able to construct the first SCWR bluebird boxes! We installed the first of these boxes around SCWR’s property and were thrilled to see bluebirds inspecting the boxes within days of installing them.

With as much fun as they have been to watch, we are very excited to share with you that we are ready to start offering blue bird boxes to our barn owl maintenance clients! Bluebirds are extremely beneficial to gardeners and farmers a like, catching and eating many insects that may otherwise prey on crops.
A barn owl box installed in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico was the first barn owl box from our BOMP Coalition to be installed internationally!
In spring of last year, Dr. Matthew Johnson brought some of our barn owl boxes across the border to Mexico to help farmers there protect grape crops from rodent predation. These boxes are the first to be installed internationally by BOMPCO!

During our annual meeting this fall, BOMPCO members discussed Dr. Matthew and his team’s findings and discussed potential ways to encourage higher occupancy in our boxes during maintenance. We are excited to implement these ideas this year and explore any changes in occupancy!

With all the work that we were able to accomplish in 2022, we are equally excited for what lies ahead in 2023. If you are interested in our Barn Owl Maintenance Program or would like to speak with someone about installing blue bird boxes on your property, please email us at bomp@scwildliferescue.org.
Animal Care Spotlight
An Outstanding Recovery and Return to the Wild
On a cold day in December a wildlife hero came across a juvenile raccoon in dire straits in the quiet coastal town of Gualala, California. The raccoon was found trapped inside of a trash can, laying in 4 inches of icy, putrid water. Thankfully, the finder immediately called for help and was able to promptly transport the raccoon two hours to Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue.

Upon arrival at our center, the raccoon was brought into our wildlife hospital and found to be suffering from hypothermia. At the time, the raccoon’s chances of survival were not high. Nevertheless, our animal care team got right to work to save the raccoon, administering emergency fluid therapy and providing heat support with our specialty incubators.

After a few days of intensive care, the raccoon’s condition began to slowly improve. Before long, we were amazed at its improved energy level, as it began to eat and drink on its own. The staff at the center continued to monitor the raccoon’s progress and provided it with the necessary care to help it regain its strength.

After several weeks of recovery, the raccoon passed all release criteria and was released back to its home in the wild. Our release team selected a suitable release site in Gualala and the raccoon was set free near the location where it was found. The raccoon’s rescue and rehabilitation is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the staff and supportive community at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue and to the wildlife hero who rallied to help save this animal. It’s a reminder of the importance of our organization's work and the impact we can have on the lives of animals when we come together united with a common goal. We hope that this raccoon will continue to thrive in the wild and serve as an inspiration to us all with our conservation efforts.
(LEFT) Raccoon during recovery at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. (Right) Release site in Gualala where the raccoon was released back into the wild.
Support Your Local Wildlife!
Donate Today!
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 $1,220,000, which means it costs almost $3,342 per day to keep our doors open.  Any donation helps!
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