As a wildlife rehabilitator and wild bird rescuer with Bird Ally X, I was glad to read Heidi Walters recent piece "Murre Hard Times" (Oct. 27). As she describes, there have been a very large number of juvenile common murres dead, found recently on our region's beaches. At several points between North Jetty and Trinidad, I've seen 10-15 dead murres within a quarter mile's walk. I am glad the North Coast Journal has given attention to this rather grim feature of the season.
A point not raised in Ms. Walters piece, however, is that some birds are found alive and need rescue. Bird Ally X works with the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center to provide help for these young birds. Many have been brought to HWCC's facility on Old Arcata Road in Bayside by people who have found them struggling on the beach. I have gone out on several calls, looking for birds reported to be struggling in the surf. Sometimes we are too late, sometimes we find no bird (giving credence to the old expression about wild goose chases), and very often we find, capture and bring the bird into care.
The sooner ailing birds are gotten into care, the better their chances for recovery and release.
Wildlife rehabilitators most typically treat problems caused by civilization. Hit by a car, striking a window, caught by a house cat -- these have been the most common reasons for injured and orphaned wildlife.
Marine species, such as common murres, historically have come into care most frequently due to oil spills and fishing gear injuries (entanglement in line and snared by hooks). Now, overfishing, climate change and agricultural run-off also cause injury and illness to a large number of birds. Wildlife rehabilitation for those lucky enough to be found alive is the only second chance these animals will have. And they depend on people who find them to get them into care.
If a beached marine bird or any wild animal in need of rescue is found, call the wildlife help hotline at Humboldt Wildlife Care Center -- 822-8839.
Monte Merrick, Arcata