SAN DIEGO — The severe weather that has been hitting Southern California is also impacting wildlife.

What You Need To Know

  • A Golden Eagle brought in during a storm has been released back into the wild

  • Veterinarians at Ramona Wildlife Center believe it’s likely the storm blew the eagle off course, where he got stuck in the mud and grounded

  • Wildlife veterinarians at Ramona Wildlife Center say they see an influx in patients after stormy weather

  • Golden Eagles are a fully protected species in California

Wildlife veterinarian Alexis Wohl said a Golden Eagle was found during the storms on Feb. 5 and brought to San Diego Humane Society’s Ramona Wildlife Center. They believe it’s likely the storm blew him off course, where he got stuck in the mud and grounded.

“After major storms we definitely see an influx of patients,” Wohl said. “We were able to bathe him, get all the debris off his feathers, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to fly with it. He was also rather skinny too when he came in. Right now he’s actually quite fat and we love that.”

Golden Eagles are a fully protected species in California. Angela Hernandez-Cusick has been overseeing the bird’s rehab and said Golden Eagles are a rare patient.

(Image Courtesy of the San Diego Humane Society)

“I think in my time here I’ve only seen two or three come through care. Maybe one a year, if that, but it’s not common that we get to see a Golden Eagle. This is actually really exciting and I know the staff is really excited to be able to care for the bird,” she said.  

During intense storms on Jan. 22, Humane Law Enforcement rescued a coyote with a bucket stuck on his head from a flooded field in the Tijuana River Valley. The only way to reach the animal was by boat. He was soaked and suffering from hypothermia and many wounds. Thankfully, after a short stay at Ramona Wildlife Center, he was released. Hernandez-Cusick said it’s hard to predict what severe weather will bring into their care.

“We never know kind of how long these cases are going to take, how long they’ll be with us, but do our best to care for them and be able to get them back out in the wild,” Hernandez-Cusick said.  

The team in Ramona now has the rare opportunity to work with biologists who have a federal permit to band and tag the eagle. This will help conservation efforts monitor and protect the species.

(Image Courtesy of the San Diego Humane Society)

“Every individual counts and then the species is what we’re most concerned about,” Wohl said. 

While storm season might not be over yet, they will be ready for whoever is blown into their arms next.

“That’s the most rewarding part of this job, is being able to be with them every step of the way,” Wohl said. “This time just did an amazing job with that.”

San Diego Humane Society said they have had 19 botta’s pocket gophers come into their Bahde Wildlife Center in San Diego between Jan. 22 and Feb. 9. They only had one botta’s pocket gopher during the same time period in 2023.

The Ramona Wildlife Center said they have also treated two bunnies who were disrupted because of flooding.