Frogs, bears, kittens, and owls. Hummingbirds, otters, raccoons, and dogs. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by celebrating all of the furried, feathered, finned and scaled animals we share this world with?
At PAWS, we are people helping animals. In order to truly help animals, we also need to love and help the earth. In celebration of Earth Day 2017, some fourth grade students in the PAWS Kids Who Care education program would like to share some ways we can all make this world a better place for animals, people, and the environment.
April 17 is National Bat Appreciation Day so here at PAWS we are celebrating all things bats.
Bats are in the Chiroptera family which includes about 1,240 species around the world; 40 of which are found in North America. The Pacific Northwest is home to 14 species, of which the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) is the most common (below). Bat species feed on a variety of things from nectar to insects to mammalian blood. All the species living in Washington are insectivores meaning they feed only on insects.
Because bats are active at night, insectivorous bats eat predominately mosquitoes, nocturnal beetles and moths. They are considered extremely important for pest control. A single bat for example can consume up to 2,000 mosquitoes in one night.
Some species of bats are pollinators much like bees and hummingbirds. In fact, they are very important pollinators in tropical and desert climates for plants whose flowers open at night. Bats feed on the insects living in the flowers as well as the nectar, and over 300 species of fruit depend on bats as pollinators including mangoes, bananas and guava.
PAWS Wildlife Center is no stranger to bats. On average, we receive about 50 bats a year; some of them are babies who fell from their nursery colony, some are brought in for rabies testing if there is a chance of human contact, and others are sick or injured and need care.
Bats roost in rock crevices, tree hollows, mines, caves and a variety of anthropogenic, or human, structures. In our area, they do not roost in large colonies like they do in the eastern North America where there can be thousands of bats in a single cave.
Bats in eastern North America are seeing large population declines because of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) which is a devastating disease caused by a fungus that grows on the wings and muzzles of hibernating bats causing them to come out of hibernation early. The disease was first seen in New York in 2006 and has since spread to 30 states and 5 Canadian providences killing an estimated 6 million bats.
In 2016 Washington joined the list of states affected with WNS when a Little Brown Bat (below) was brought to PAWS Wildlife Center and died in care. It was confirmed that he did indeed have WNS. Since then the state and federal agencies along with wildlife rehabilitation centers in the area are being very vigilent, monitoring bats that come in for care as well as bats in the wild to document any more cases. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking anyone who comes across a sick or dead bat or find a group of bats to report it to them. Information about that can be found here.
If you want to attract these critters to your yard, there is a simple way to do so; by building them a bat box. Since bats are nocturnal they need a safe place to roost during the day. With deforestation and the spread of urban areas, they are losing their habitat so it is more important then ever to provide safe roosting structures. You can purchase a premade bat box from several places online or you can build your own. Here at PAWS Wildlife Center we will be building and installing our very own bat box in the new PAWS wildlife garden space. The best time to hang them is in mid April when bats are starting to come out of hibernation and looking for new roosting areas and places to raise their young.
For bat house building resources and ideas be sure to check these sites out:
Last month we talked about the importance of native plant gardens, how they benefit wildlife and some gardening tips. Now, we are taking some of our own advice and creating a native species garden learning experience here at PAWS Wildlife Center.
Our property is home to many wildlife species. Some of which are here throughout the year such as Spotted Towhees, House Finches and Pacific Wrens (Above left, center, right respectively) and others arrive in the spring to raise their families like Dark-eyed Juncos, American Robins, and Black-capped Chickadees (Below left, center, right respectively). Many bird species have already returned this spring and are staking claims on territories and searching for mates. This may be very similar to what happens in your backyard habitat every year and a few enhancements can provide natural food sources and shelter for safety.
At PAWS Wildlife Center we are sprucing up our entrance to not only include a demo native species garden but also artificial homes for birds, bats and bees and examples of humane ways to keep wildlife out of your vegetable garden and what natural animal deterrents really work. We are currently in the beginning stages and have drawn up our official layout, have constructed a raised garden box and have installed our very own catio (below).
We can’t stress it enough that anyone can include features in their yard to support native wildlife and promote living with our wild neighbors humanely, even in small spaces. We hope this will inspire others to enhance their backyard habitat for their wild neighbors as well.
If you are still looking for references to help you get ideas for your backyard habitat here some we recommend:
Local gardening organization:
Tilth Alliance – great resources on many gardening topics and classes, kids section
Who doesn’t love puppies?! They are adorable, fun to play with, and of course there’s puppy breath! Raising a puppy isn’t all tummy rubs and playtime though, there is some actual work involved. After all, you will be shaping and teaching your puppy to grow into the best dog she can be. But how do you start?
Puppy proofing before bringing home your new pup is always a good idea. Make sure all valuable items are out of reach, but also be aware of any items that could be dangerous for your puppy to chew on. Puppies love to chew as it’s natural, but they don’t always know what is a dog toy and what isn’t. If you do catch your puppy chewing on an inappropriate item, gently remove it and give them an acceptable chew toy. Make sure your puppy has plenty of fun toys to keep her occupied, and praise her when she is chewing on them.
It’s also a good idea to closely supervise your new puppy in your home. That way you can make sure she is staying safe, plus you learn their ‘cues’ for when they need to relieve themselves. It’s important to remember a puppy under 6 months can only ‘hold it’ for a couple hours, and will need to go out for frequent potty breaks, especially after play sessions or when waking up. Sticking to a regular schedule will help your puppy to learn. Accidents are normal, and you should never punish your puppy for having one.
Puppy classes are a fun way to start socializing your puppy with other dogs and new people too. Socialization is key to raising a well-adjusted puppy. All puppies under 6 months should experience new things every day. Not only should they interact with people and dogs, but new experiences and places too. Make sure to always have plenty of treats on hand. If your pup seems afraid, go slow and pair the new ‘thing’ with plenty of yummy treats to make it a good experience.
Remember that you are in charge of shaping your puppy’s behavior, and what you do now will impact your puppy for the rest of her life. Visit our resource library for additional hints on helping your puppy to become a great dog. Start training early, be consistent, and have fun!
Biologist and theorist E.O. Wilson once said “Biological diversity is the key to the maintenance of the world as we know it...Eliminate one species, and another increases to take its place. Eliminate a great many species and the local ecosystem starts to decay.”
Biodiversity is defined as the variety of life in the world or in a habitat or ecosystem. It is important because it boosts ecosystem productivity where each species plays an important role. Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms, including us.
Right here in Washington there are hundreds of native wildlife species that we coexist with. From the seabirds wintering off our coast to the songbirds at our bird feeders to the ever-elusive coyote. These species all play an important role in the environment that they live in. Seabirds are indicators of the health of the marine environment. They will be the first to be affected if something is wrong because they spend most of their life at sea and rely on marine resources for food. Songbirds protect trees and other plants by preying on insects that chew leaves and harm forests. Coyotes are a keystone predator that have positive effects within an ecosystem by keeping natural areas healthy. They regulate populations of smaller predators in turn allowing the prey of smaller predators, like birds, to survive.
In a changing world, it is important for us humans to better understand and celebrate this biodiversity. We can even help promote it in our own backyards and communities by planting wildlife gardens and taking injured and orphaned wild animals to wildlife rehabilitation centers like PAWS for help.
In the past five years PAWS, has returned more than 5,800 animals back to the wild encompassing more than 165 different species. We returned these animals back to the wild so they can once again be active members within their population to help preserve the biodiversity in Washington.
Help us celebrate by checking back each day this week on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for patient updates, inside looks and information about species we are currently treating at PAWS.
By Kate Marcussen, Community Education Coordinator
I never thought life would come to spending Friday nights in the roofing aisle of the home improvement store deciding which type of roof my cats would like best. Many people may consider this a strange preferred Friday night outing, but for me, it was the ultimate in excitement because we were finally building our very own catio!
For those who are unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a catio is an outdoor enclosure for cats. They have become a popular way to provide outdoor time for cats that is safe for pets and wildlife.
Building a catio had always been on the ever so long “to do” list. Providing our two rescue cats, Tommy and Benjamin, with the opportunity to go outside and enjoy fresh air, while staying safe, was a must. It was also very important to us to protect the wonderful wildlife that visits our yard, especially the birds. Our resident Spotted Towhee particularly dislikes the cats as he follows the cats while they are outside on leashes, no more than 5 feet behind at all times, scolding them with alarm calls.
We set out to build a DYI catio. With access to basic tools such as a hand drill and miter saw, we knew that it could be done. We aimed to stick to a goal of spending under $200. The catio would be connected to a basement level window so the cats would have easy access. We drew up a plan of a 9-foot-long, 2-feet-wide and 2.5-feet-tall window box.
Then we hit the aisles of the home improvement store. To be budget conscious we used wood 2x4's and 4x4's for the structure’s frame. We chose hardware cloth to use as fencing for its durability, clean and simple design, and low cost. For the roof we wanted polycarbonate, but it didn’t come in 9-foot pieces. After debating if we could fit the 12-foot long size pieces in the car (who were we kidding?) we decided to go with two smaller sizes that we could overlap.
The building process took us a couple of long weekends, a couple more trips back to the home improvement store, and a total of $172.63. After painting the catio to match the exterior house color it was time to get it into place. In a fit of excitement, I actually made us do this at 7:00 p.m. on a weeknight with headlamps on!
As I opened the downstairs window for the cats to enter their new digs, they cautiously looked up at me with expressions of “wait I can go outside alone?!” They both jumped out into the catio and paraded up and down the catwalk with tall, confident tails wiggling with excitement.
Tommy and Benjamin still struggle with the idea of a cat door and the realization that they need to use their heads to push the door open. But after finally pushing through, they come running back inside, wild from the crisp air and they proceed to run laps around the house in delight. I’d say all the late nights in spent at the hardware store were well worth it, and something tells me that the Spotted Towhee would agree.
You can see this catio along with many others and learn more about why catios are such a great option for keeping cats and wildlife safe during Catio Tour Seattle 2017! Register now
Join PAWS Wildlife Center in planting a native species garden this spring and summer!
Why are native species gardens important?
Local wildlife is facing habitat loss and fragmentation in King and Snohomish counties. Providing natural food and habitat sources using native plants will not only give you a front row seat to view our spectacular wildlife, but also support our local wild animals.
Decide which species you want to attract to your garden.
Native species gardens can attract and support a wide variety of animals from small mammals, such as Douglas Squirrels or Little Brown Bats, to birds including Anna’s Hummingbirds, Black-capped Chickadees and Dark-eyed Juncos.
Work with knowledgeable staff at a local nursery specializing in native plant species
Be careful when providing bird feeders, they may do more harm than good to our local wildlife.
If your garden will include vegetables or fruit, prepare to either share your garden with local wildlife or find humane solutions to deter them from entering your garden.
If you are having difficulty finding resources that apply to your situation, please call PAWS Wildlife Center at 425-412-4040 for assistance. Keep in mind it is not always possible to keep out all of the local wildlife, but there are natural ways to minimize attractions.
An easy way to keep out visitors from vegetable garden is using wire fencing and netting.
Bellevue Botanical Gardens: provides information on natural gardening. Visit their gardens to see examples of garden designs and to attend classes on natural gardening techniques.
You’ve probably heard it before: spay and neuter your pets. This phrase has been iterated so much that for some it risks losing meaning. So, for World Spay Day on February 28, 2017, we want to talk about why this surgery is essential for keeping your pet healthy and happy.
World Spay Day began in 1995 as a response to an ever-present issue– pet over-population. A female dog can have two litters a year, averaging 10 puppies per litter. Cats can have up to three litters per year, with between four and six kittens per litter.
That averages to 20 puppies per year and 15 kittens per year for every intact pet. Then those puppies and kittens who are not “fixed” begin to have babies as soon as four months old for kittens and five months old for many dog breeds. If you multiply that by the number of pets, that equates to a massive number!
After thinking about the math, it becomes apparent why it’s essential to spay or neuter your pet, but there are other, less obvious reasons as well. Many people believe that if a cat is kept indoors there is no need to spay or neuter them, but cats who go into heat can display aggression or destructive behavior. It also only takes one escapade as a feline escape artist for your female cat to become pregnant, or for your male cat to impregnate a female.
The cycle of cats and dogs going into heat but not becoming pregnant is also associated with pyometra, a serious type of uterine infection which can ultimately be fatal. Spaying or neutering an animal early on helps prevent this. Spaying or neutering at an early age can also reduce the amount of breast tumors that occur on animals.
It has been shown that “fixing” an animal early is best, and leads to a quicker recovery. Generally, an animal can be spayed or neutered at two pounds or two months of age. Animals who are altered early have a much lower instance of complications, and altering before marking behaviors start occurring usually prevents these behaviors from happening.
If you’re ready to be a hero to your furry friends, we’re here to help!
PAWS offers low-cost spay or neuter surgeries to pets of qualified low-income individuals. We spay and neuter cats, dogs, kittens, puppies and rabbits. We are working to help end the suffering of unwanted and homeless animals in our community by preventing unplanned litters. On average PAWS performs 2,316 spay and neuter surgeries per year. Spaying and neutering is good for the community and a great way to help our animal friends live longer, healthier lives.
We are still treating 17 of the Glaucous-winged Gulls from the Tacoma die off event. They are all regaining strength and have moved to outside enclosures.
We often see gulls flying in the sky in the Seattle, taking strolls along the beach, loafing in parking lots, and floating in the waves of Puget Sound. But have you ever wondered more about them? Gulls are one of nature’s boldest birds and there are 22 species that call North America home.
Although there are so many different species they are often lumped together and referred to as “seagulls” but this is a misnomer and an inaccurate depiction of where gulls actually live. They don’t actually go out to sea but stick to more coastal areas in lakes, rivers, marshes and cities.
The gull species we are currently treating at PAWS are Glaucous-winged Gulls and Glaucous-winged Gull hybrids. Yes, hybrids. Gulls species sometimes mate with gulls of other species producing hybrids. In our area Glaucous-winged Gulls (below left) mate with Western Gulls (below right) as their breeding grounds overlap; these gulls are often called Olympic or Puget Sound Gulls (below center). Hybrid gulls will have characteristics of both species and can sometimes be hard to identify.
Glaucous-winged gulls are a large gull with a white head and underparts. Their back if silvery gray and their wingtips are medium gray with white spots near the tip. They also have pinkish legs and adults have a yellow bill with a red spot towards the tip. Their wingspan is four to four and a half feet wide and they weigh approximately two and a half pounds. When they are young chicks they are a sandy color with brown spots to blend in with their surroundings.
Glaucous-winged Gulls are colonial nesters who make their nests in large groups on coastal cliffs, rocky islands and sometimes on flat roofs. They forage on fish and marine invertebrates and scavenge on carrion (dead animals). They capture food near the surface of the water or on shore and often steal food from other seabirds. They are opportunistic foragers and will eat whatever food is available which is why they do so well in more urban environments.
The oldest recorded Glaucous-winged Gull was at least 23 years old. It was banded in British Columbia in Washington in 2001.
As I sat down in my chair with a strong cup of coffee, notebook and pen in hand, I knew I had an important day ahead of me. It was Humane Lobby Day, a chance for animal advocates from around the region to meet and speak with state representatives and senators about the bills and topics most important to us.
Navigating the Washington State Capitol campus in Olympia, I found myself in awe. It is not often that someone like myself, who spends most of my days surrounded by children eager to learn about animals, gets to sit down across from a Washington State Senator.
However, lo and behold, when you bring up the topic of animals, the stories unfold. A legislative assistant enthusiastically shared about the cats she has adopted from PAWS over the years. One Senator adopted her favorite dog from PAWS. Through these stories, it becomes clear that animal welfare topics are bipartisan issues. Everyone has a story, and the importance of taking the time to listen and share cannot be overlooked.
Animal welfare issues are incredibly important to us here at PAWS, and we make sure that our legislators and policy makers know that. However, we cannot do it alone. By taking the time to voice your opinion, you are engaging with your elected officials so they can best represent you and your positions.
Visit your local representatives and senators in Olympia, give them a call, write a letter, or send them an email. Check out our Legislative Watch for information about the bills that PAWS is supporting that can directly improve the lives of animals. Take a look at our Action Toolkit for specific ways that you can get involved.
By supporting humane legislation, we can work to help animals through positive, powerful legislation.