Newly Created Wildlife Disaster Network Aids Several Wildfire Victims

veterinarians treat paws of mountain lion
WDN veterinarians treat the burned paws of a mountain lion. (photo courtesy of CDFW)

Newly Created Wildlife Disaster Network Aids Several Wildfire Victims

Earlier this week, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (SVM) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced the joint formation of the Wildlife Disaster Network (WDN). This group of veterinarians, wildlife biologists, ecologists, trained animal care volunteers, and rehabilitation centers was created to bring experts together to respond to injured wildlife and prevent suffering.

The SVM and CDFW successfully teamed up in 2017 when Dr. Deana Clifford, a CDFW wildlife veterinarian, enlisted the help of Dr. Jamie Peyton, a critical care specialist and chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at the UC Davis veterinary hospital, to treat animals burned in the Thomas Fire. The WDN looks to build on that teamwork and on the strengths of Dr. Peyton’s pioneering work in treating burn victims with biological bandages made from the skin of tilapia fish.

veterinarian treating burned bear paw
Dr. Jamie Peyton applies a biological bandage made from tilapia fish skin to the burned paw of a bear. (photo courtesy of CDFW)

The network is already aiding several animals injured in California’s latest wildfires. Network teams throughout Northern California are treating about a dozen animals at various facilities.

“This is the most wildlife assisted from any fire season,” said Dr. Peyton. “I am so happy that we are able to make a difference to these animals that need our help!”

On October 7, Dr. Peyton updated CalFire (2:35 of video) on WDN’s current work and resources available.

Animals being cared for include:

At CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory (WIL) in Rancho Cordova
•    A bear from the North Complex Fire, which was treated and released.
•    A mountain lion from the Bobcat Fire, which is currently being treated and is expected to be released in Southern California next week.
•    A bear from the Zogg Fire, which will hopefully be ready for release in a few weeks.

bear paws
Before and after images of bear paws after being treated with tilapia fish skin bandages. (photos courtesy of CDFW)

At Gold Country Wildlife Rescue in Auburn
•    A coyote from the LNU Complex Fire.
•    A bobcat from the LNU Complex Fire.
•    A fox from the North Complex Fire.
•    A bear cub from the Zogg Fire.

At Napa Wildlife Rescue
•    A coyote from the Glass Fire, which may soon be transferred to Gold Country Wildlife Rescue for ongoing care.
•    Attempts are being made to trap a burned fox visualized nearby.

At Oakland Zoo
•    A mountain lion kitten from the Zogg Fire, which was transferred to the Oakland Zoo from WIL for intensive care. It is too young to be released back into the wild.

Anyone who sees injured and/or burned wildlife is urged to call the WDN at (800) 942-6459. Donations to the WDN can be made online or by calling the UC Davis SVM (530) 752-7024.

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