Friday, February 22, 2008

Media: Suisun City center breeds love of wildlife

By Carol Bogart Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Sedit the coyote watched expectantly as Lee Munoz, 70, approached with food. The coyote, found tied to a post as a pup, never learned how to be 'wild.'

Sedit, the American Indian word for coyote, has resided at the Suisun Wildlife Center in Suisun City for many years.

For the past two years, Munoz has been volunteering at the center. She prepares meals for an aging opossum that regards visitors balefully from beneath a blanket. Munoz feeds dead mice to raptors at the center such as a great horned owl. Her favorite resident, though, is Sedit.

'I just love animals,' Munoz said.

Munoz retired from the Fairfield-Suisun School District and still lives on the Green Valley ranch where her mother was born.

She has had more exposure to animals than birds at the ranch, so she is drawn to the animals at the wildlife center.

Matching volunteers with the animals and birds that interest them is the goal of Cindy Forrest, the center's rehabilitation director.

For example, Sherry Moyce, 48, has turned her Suisun City home into a nursery of sorts. Moyce uses a dropper to feed two baby gray squirrels blown out of a tree during a recent storm.

It's clear the two have embraced Moyce as 'mom.'

After their meal, they burrow under her sweater and nestle against her neck.
'I get real attached,' Moyce said. 'I like having babies. This gives me my 'mommy' fix.'

Jim Furco, 68, who retired as a sergeant in the Fairfield Police Department in 1993, has volunteered at the wildlife center for 12 years. His wife, Margie Furco, 61, is also a volunteer. The couple took a three-day course at UC Davis to learn how to handle raptors.

Furco is the center's primary handler of a resident male golden eagle. Sool, the American Indian word for eagle, lost half a wing and can't fly.

Sometimes, Furco said, Sool will make a barking sound when a hawk or another raptor passes overhead.

Sool may be trying to attract a female, Furco said.
'After 11 years in a cage, he'll take anything that flies,' he joked.

All jokes aside, Furco would love to see Sool soaring free. Knowing that's not possible, Furco arrives at the center at 1:30 p.m. each day except Sunday to work with the disabled eagle.

Leather protects Furco's hand and arm from Sool's huge talons.

As he held the enormous bird on his forearm, Furco fed Sool and told stories. For instance, Furco said Sool has so much strength in his feet that he could crush his handler's hand.

When Furco first started working with the bird five years ago, Sool was so aggressive Forco was 'scared to death.'

The two have since formed a bond.
'He's not tame,' Furco said. 'He's just got manners.'

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at


For information on becoming a volunteer at the Suisun Wildlife Center, call 429-HAWK (4295). The center, located at 1171 Kellogg St. in Suisun City, is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

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