SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - An animal rescue group in the South Bay has come to the aid of a pack of coyote pups that was orphaned after their mother was killed.
The Wildlife Emergency Services (WES) said San Jose resident Chuck Rossi had been monitoring a mother coyote with her pups that had housed themselves in a den on his hillside property in the Almaden area last month.
Rossi and his family even turned one of their security cameras into their very own "Coyote Cam" and that's how they discovered the mother was missing last week.
So on Thursday, Rossi contacted a wildlife hospital and alerted them of the situation.
A short time later, a female coyote now believed to have been the pups' mother, was found dead about a half a mile away on Alameda Expressway.
Wildlife officials said she was struck by a vehicle.
WES was called in after numerous attempts to extract the pups from the den were unsuccessful.
The group said it initially looked into ways to try and avoid taking the pups into captivity so they could remain in the wild, but because there are no adult members of a pack in the area that could act as surrogates and raise the pups, animal welfare officials decided the pups' only chance for survival would be to capture and care for the coyotes.
So Early Friday morning, WES responders made their first attempt to retrieve the pups and placed a large dog trap baited with dead mice, just outside the den entrance.
But officials said the pups were so frightened they stayed close to the den's entrance and refused to venture deep enough into the trap.
On Saturday, which was the pups' third night without their mother, WES had some success.
One of the young coyotes, desperate for food, ventured deep enough into the trap to be captured.
The rest remained unaccessible inside the den under a huge boulder, according to WES's Rebecca Dmytryk.
Concern about the welfare of the remaining pups was mounting.
"The situation was dire. The pups had not eaten much of the food slurry that was left for them. Time was running out," Dmytryk wrote in WES's blog.
So that evening, rescue workers returned to the den and tried to lure the pups out by making loud noises. When that proved to be ineffective, they started to dig to gain access to the den.
Finally, a responder managed to get hold of one of the pups with a grabbing tool, but because the animal would not fit through the hole the rescue workers created, they had to use a crowbar to dislodge a large rock from the area and then lift the pup to safety.
The rescue team would not give up until they retrieved all of the orphaned animals.
"The team continued working, well into dark, digging out the den, using flashlights and scopes, but the pups stayed hidden," WES said.
The responders were starting to lose hope, when Rossi came up with an idea and offered up a small imaging device that allowed them to detect where the pups were huddled inside the den.
"Amazingly, it showed exactly where the pups were hiding," Dmytryk wrote.
Finally, the team managed to retrieve the rest of the pups.
The baby coyotes were severely dehydrated and were transferred to a wildlife center where they received fluids.
WES said the pups have developed a healthy appetite, are doing well, and are "pretty much out of the woods."
They will be released when they're able to survive on their own, which is expected to be in the fall.
The Wildlife Emergency Services thanked everyone who played a role in the rescue and gave special recognition to the Rossis, saying they went above and beyond, taking "extraordinary measures to help these beautiful creatures."