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Roadside compassion

Roadside compassion


Who to contact about dead and injured wildlife

By Cathy Fisher, guest editor

I have driven past my share of wild animals laying on or near the roads, including deer, squirrels, skunks, possums, and birds. My heart always breaks a little, feeling helpless about what can be done for them, whether it be rescue for the injured or dignity for the dead. A recent sighting of a downed deer in Glen Ellen motivated me to research the best contacts for reporting wildlife-related situations. Who to call depends on where the animal’s located, if it’s wild or domestic, and if it’s dead or alive.

Unfortunately, deer, when injured, are seldom rehabilitated. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website, “They can be very dangerous and do not fare well in captivity to undergo medical treatment.” They recommend humane euthanasia in such cases. In general, it’s best to leave deer alone, not only for your safety but because interference by humans is usually not beneficial (call one of the numbers below before approaching any wild animal that appears injured). While deer may succumb to their injures, many times they can survive after a period of healing.

The five resources below should cover you if you come across a dead or injured wild animal within the areas of Glen Ellen, Kenwood, and Oakmont. (Tip: keep a copy of this article in your car for future reference.)

Sonoma County Animal Services

Contact: 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Mon–Sat; (707) 565-7100 (after hours, contact local police or sheriff) Health/Animal-Services Sonoma County Animal Services is a good first call if you’re not sure what to do. They work primarily with domestic animal issues (like licensing, strays, and neglected animals), but they also assist with dead wildlife on public property in the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County (including Glen Ellen and Kenwood). These calls are dispatched to Recology, which picks up the dead animal.

If you come across wildlife that you believe to be injured but still alive (and cannot be taken in by Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue for rehabilitation; see below), call Sonoma County Animal Services, and they will dispatch the matter to the California Highway Patrol or sheriff (who then may route it to California Department of Fish and Wildlife if the animal is suffering).

City of Santa Rosa Transportation and Public Works

Contact: 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon–Fri; (707) 543-3881 (after hours: (707) 543-3805) Transportation-and-Public-Works The City of Santa Rosa’s Transportation and Public Works Department is responsible for removing dead animals only (both domestic and wild) from within Santa Rosa city limits (including Oakmont) that are located in the public right-of-way (not on private property).

Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue

Contact: 9 a.m.–7 p.m., Mon–Sun; (707) 526-9453 (after hours, leave a msg.) Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue assists with the rescue, release, and rehabilitation of most sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. If you are not sure if the animal is alive or dead, call and the Rescue can help assess the situation.

Animals they are permitted to assist with include small wild animals (like skunks and raccoons), doves, pigeons, crows, raptors (hawks, owls, and eagles), and waterbirds and gulls. For safety reasons, they cannot assist with turkeys, pigs, or deer (for fawns, see Fawn Rescue below). They can also help with predation or nuisance wildlife issues in your home or on your property (including bats).

Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County

Contact: 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon–Sun; (707) 523-2473 (leave msg. if no answer) The Bird Rescue Center of Sonoma County offers emergency medical care for injured, orphaned, and sick native wild birds (130 species in all), including hawks, owls, crows, herons, ducks, and turkey vultures. Most birds are admitted during baby bird season, which is April–September. Most birds arrive from Sonoma County, but the organization also serves Marin, Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties.

Getting help to injured birds quickly is very important, especially young birds, as dehydration and starvation can set in fast. Be sure to call the center before attempting to pick up a bird. You can read more about rescuing birds on their website, including how to keep birds from crashing into your windows and what to do if a bird has become trapped indoors. Fawn Rescue of Sonoma County

Contact: All hours, Mon–Sun; (707) 931-4550 (leave msg. if no answer); Fawn Rescue’s mission is to rescue, raise, rehabilitate, and release ill, injured, or orphaned black-tailed fawns back into the wild. The organization takes emergency and non-emergency calls from the public, and also works with county animal agencies, wildlife centers, police and sheriff, veterinarians, and park rangers. The busy season is April–September.

If you come upon a lone fawn, Fawn Rescue staff may advise you to leave the fawn alone and not to approach it. Mother deer often leave fawns for hours at a time in a safe spot while they forage for nourishment, returning later to tend to their fawns. On Fawn Rescue’s website, you can get detailed information on what to do depending on the situation.

Tips for preventing wildlife collisions

-Reduce your speed around curves and other areas that wildlife frequent (like streams and rivers), and if you see an animal up ahead.

-Slow down and pay attention when you see yellow “deer crossing” signs.

-Be aware that if you see one animal near the road there may be others following.

-Pay attention between dusk and dawn (6–9 p.m. for deer) when wildlife is most active and our human visibility is most limited.

Pay extra attention during deer mating season in the fall (October– early January) and when wildlife families are out with their young in the spring.

-Honk your horn (one long blast) if you see an animal on or near the road; keep your eyes on the shoulders as well. Using your brights (when there’s no oncoming traffic) also helps animals see you better.

-If you come upon a deer in the road, brake calmly and firmly while staying in your lane; don’t swerve, as you could lose control or end up hitting the deer anyway since they can abruptly change their paths when scared.

-If you do hit a deer, pull off the road, turn on your hazards, and remain in your vehicle. Call emergency services if you are injured, there is property damage, or the deer is in the roadway. If the deer is on the side of the roadway and not a traffic hazard, call Sonoma County Animal Services. Do not go near the deer; if it’s still alive, it can be dangerous if approached. Cathy Fisher is an animal advocate and vegan cooking instructor and author.