Presentation on coyotes

Living With Coyotes
presented by Humane Wildlife Control

November 7, 7:00 - 8:00 PM

West Valley Branch Library - Community Room
1243 San Tomas Aquino Road, San Jose

This event is being hosted by City of San Jose and Councilmember Chappe Jones

More info contact David Gomez at or (408) 535-4901

Download the flyer, HERE.

Living in Harmony

By Rob Watson 9/2017

My wife, myself and our three cats live in an urban area near a creek and within half a mile of a small wildland park. We support local and migratory birds with fully-stocked feeders year-round. Birds make any neighborhood better with their songs and colors, plus they consume bugs and insects in the spring and fertilize native plants. We love to bird-watch from our living room and see how many different species we can find in our bird books.

We have placed appropriately-sized bird nest boxes around our property and have hosted several families of chestnut-backed chickadees, oak titmice and others, with our very own “bird B & B.” We even have a camera in one of the nest boxes and I have made a couple YouTube videos about the lives of our feathered tenants.

We protect the birds from our cats with enclosed cat-only areas, sometimes called “catios” that allow our cats to freely roam between the inside of the house, and several outdoor areas. Our cats love to watch and talk to the birds and the birds stay safe. Our catios protect our cats from large predators, loose dogs, traffic, and unscrupulous people.

We utilize our garden and landscape drip-irrigation system to regularly replenish several birdbaths and a ground-level drinking area - used by both birds and just about all the other wild animals that make regular stopovers in our yard as they pass through. Of course we regularly check these for mosquito larvae, although our local birds are happy to dispose of the little devils for us as well.

We have attempted to set up our wildlife support system to favor the desirable critters and discourage the undesirable critters. Of course that means making efforts to pest-proof our home.

Our water supplies are accessible to everyone while our bird feeders only feed birds, and when we put out bread scraps for squirrels and larger birds during the day so the less desirable nocturnal critters like rats and mice are not encouraged to seek it out.

We’ve had a great horned owl visitation, and some local gray foxes have begun to frequent our wildlife superhighway as they make their meal-catching and play-time rounds through our yard between the park area and the creek. A local Opossum has been investigating our yard as well.

These critters are beneficial to human urban life. Foxes help keep rodent populations down, skunks eat bugs, kill and eat rats and mice and have been known to destroy yellowjacket nests. Opossums eat termites, bugs and small rodents.

We do what we can to encourage the critters we do want around and discourage the ones we don’t want around. We have been so delighted to see how much wildlife there is around us.

Link to videos I've made at home:

Bird nest box videos:

Skunk movie:

Hilarious squirrel baffle movie (No squirrels were harmed :)

Short movie of us introducing two of our cats to one of our DIY "cat cages."

Here's the link to my YouTube channel:

Poor skunk caught in two rat traps

Larger animals being caught in rat trap - a growing problem since the invention of the "new and improved" rat and mouse snap traps with serrated jaws. 

Unlike the the old fashioned smooth-edged snap traps that larger animals could slip out of, these newer traps have a stronger grip and "teeth" that make it impossible for animals to escape.

This young skunk ventured into a yard that had snap traps set outdoors by a barbecue grill that rats had been attracted to. Drawn by the smell of the grill or the rodents or the peanut butter bait, this poor skunk got both its front paws caught  - just a horrible accident and so avoidable.

Snap traps are not intended for use outdoors without being inside a protective case to prevent other animals from caught and injured. Unfortunately, as was the case in this situation, there was nothing on the packaging or in the instructions warning the consumer of the potential risk to other animals and the precautions necessary to avoid something like this from happening.

WES is petitioning the manufacturers of these types of traps for better labeling so accidents like this one - which could cost this skunk its life, don't happen.

Clearly preventable!

Please, add your voice, here:

Local media coverage, HERE.

Another cutie

Another adorable deer mouse evicted from a home in Prunedale, CA after we shored up all of the entry points.

Who cares?

Brush mouse.

We care! A lot of people care!!!

We were rodent-proofing a home in Carmel Valley, shoring up the exterior, making sure no more rodents could get in, and then live-catching the ones that were left inside the attic, when we discovered a new (new to us) species of mouse - a brush mouse! Just adorable!!!

Finding this native mouse, along with a couple of non-native roof rats, made me wonder how pest control companies determine the species they're killing when they set out poison, BECAUSE rodenticide labels specify which species the poison can be used to kill, and, per the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the label is the law.

As you can see, in this label the target species are named - but so are species that should not be targeted by this product in California...  they're marked with an asterisk.

So, I was curious how this would be handled by the agencies that regulate and enforce pesticide use. How do they ensure non-targets - like the native brush mouse - aren't harmed?

I started by calling the Structural Pest Control Board Enforcement Unit - they kindly directed me to the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner's Office and after explaining I was intending to write a blog post about this and wanted to interview someone, I was transferred to Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Ken Allen.

What was his response to my concern that native species might be killed by use of rodenticides aimed specifically at certain non-native species? He tried convincing me that native species have their own niche and would probably not likely be around residential areas and in homes.

Really? Seriously?

But, the most memorable comment was his response to my concern that, unless pest control operators do their due diligence and make sure there are no native species present, then native species, like the brush mouse, will be poisoned. To which he replied, "Who cares!"

Mr. Allen, we care. Californians, care.

The conversation degraded from there and he postured, neither he nor anyone from the Commissioner's office would be interviewed on this subject.


Mother opossum entrapped for days

Today we received a call about an opossum that was causing quite a disturbance at a home in Watsonville. The resident explained how the animal was getting inside a converted garage - now used for storage, and pulling things off shelves and defecating all over the place. At the time of the call they said they could see the animal tucked back on a shelf sleeping, and it looked like there were a couple of young ones.

Evolution of a barn owl nest box

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Creating a safe and sound environment for barn owls to raise their young has been, and I suspect it will continue to be, a journey of its own.

Teco & Lotte

Welcome to the Teco and Lotte Chronicles... In December, 2016 we installed a barn owl nest box at the Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing California - part of the restaurant owner's commitment to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. A pair of resident barn owls took to the box quickly. By January, the first egg was laid. Check back for frequent updates and happenings inside the nest. View the live stream on YouTube at Teco & Lotte.

Barn Owl Nest Boxes - Size Matters

To those who build and/or install or promote barn owl nest boxes, 

This is a request to come together and agree on minimum overall size requirements and entry hole dimensions and placement.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Crenova iScope Waterproof Inspection Camera

By Rebecca Dmytryk

In our line of work, sometimes we need to inspect inside walls or other inaccessible spots to locate trapped or nesting animals. The Crenova iScope was recommended by a colleague, and seems to be a decent tool for the job, and, at $20.00 on Amazon - you just can't beat the price.

Mouse in the house

I just have to share good moments, working with people who share our compassion for animals.

This morning, one of our clients called to give me an update. We'd rodent-proofed their home over a week ago, sealing up all the gaps and possible intrusion points and making sure there weren't any large animals living under the home.

DIY humane rat and mouse eviction

Ridding one's home of mice and rats can be a bit labor intensive, frustrating at times, but, once completed, the home should be rodent-free for many, many years.

The following post describes how to protect your home from rats and mice, for good, without using poison or other lethal means. 

A picture worth a thousand words

This picture was sent to us by someone worried about a coyote in their neighborhood.

Do you see what this is?

It's a coyote suffering from mange - an infestation of mites has caused the animal to lose fur and break out in sores. The coyote's ears indicate how cold and miserable it feels. 

Look what it's standing next to. A poison bait station for rodents. 

Perhaps the coyote is waiting for its next meal - another poison-laced mouse or rat. 

Could this be the cause of this poor animal's failing condition? 

Opossum in a garage...

Today we were called out to remove an opossum that had found its way into a garage, squeezing under a slight opening under the front door. 

It had made itself at home, probably venturing out during the night to do its 'possum-thing, eating slugs and snails and foraging for other edibles, which, unfortunately too often, includes pet food left out overnight.

What do you think about coyotes in Laguna Beach?

There's a proposed plan before the City of Long Beach to increase trapping and killing of coyotes - blanket trapping in early spring to kill the pregnant females, and in fall to kill off the young of the year. 

Apparently, this plan was offered by Animal Pest Management - a pest control company that had been contracted with the city for its services but has since (a week or so ago) been terminated. The city replaced APM with Critter Busters. 

Long Beach Coyotes

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Image by Dru Bloomfield

Over the last few months, a group of Long Beach residents have become very vocal about the presence of coyotes in their neighborhoods, demanding coyotes be trapped and killed. It seems to be a relatively small group of individuals from two Facebook groups, Coyote Watch Long Beach and Coyote Watch Garden Grove, who have, since 2013, been leading a campaign to force state and local government to eradicate coyotes. 

Mother raccoon moves out during the day

Today, we went to work on a home in Pacific Grove, shoring up all the vents except for one so the mother raccoon inside could still come and go. The next step would be to apply a repellent barrier with a certain mix of essential oils to encourage her to move her babies to another location. Sometimes we install an electronic device in the crawlspace to add pressure.

Well, today, we didn't need to do any of that. The mother raccoon was so upset by us working around the exterior of her "den", that she decided to move one of her babies while we were on site.

Her intrusion point was above a window on the second floor, with very poor gripping points, so we placed two ladders to help her out, literally. Check out the footage:

Abandoned Magpie ducks

This weekend we collected two domestic ducks that had been abandoned at Westlake Park in Santa Cruz. The ducks were not being maintained - fed a proper diet, and they were aggressive towards wild waterfowl. 

On our initial visit to assess the situation, we found the two black and white ducks together, foraging along the shoreline of the small lake. From their coloration and upright carriage, we believe they are Magpies - a fairly unusual breed of domestic duck.

The Magpie duck is believed to have originated in Wales in the early 1900s, and was first imported to the United States in 1963.

The two ducks were a bit skittish, as though they had been chased, or perhaps someone had tried to capture them unsuccessfully. It took a few days before we were able to collect them.

They were transported to the local animal shelter where they will be fed and cared for until they are adopted.

Magpies are a hardy variety of domestic duck, living approximately 9-12 years. They are good layers, producing over 220 eggs annually and they are active foragers, eagerly consuming slugs and snails and insects. A great addition to a home farm.