273 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

July 1st marked the arrival of our first Harbor seal pup of the season at PAWS.

This young pup, who was likely abandoned, was rescued from jagged rocks above the tide line in West Seattle. A visitor to the area noticed a small seal pup wedged in the rocks and called the Seal Sitters. After they assessed the pup’s condition from afar and spoke with Biologists at National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) the pup was rescued and brought to us at the Wildlife Center.

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On arrival the pup was assessed by our rehabilitators and veterinarian team. He was thin, dehydrated and had minor abrasions on his chin and right front flipper. He spent his first few weeks inside where staff members fed him several times a day.

Once he was big enough, he was moved outside into a pool fit for a seal, with a haul out where he spent time sunning on warm days and foliage for enrichment.

After 54 days in our care and some help from the Coast Guard Auxiliary this pup was released near a known harbor seal haul out. He could be seen swimming amongst other seals on our way back to the harbor.

June through August is seal pupping season in the Seattle area. Throughout the summer and into the fall you may see harbor seal pups on the beach alone. This is completely natural as pups spend time alone while their mothers are away foraging and often these pups does not need help.

Like all marine mammals Harbor seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and their protection is managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of NOAA. If you find a seal pup do not touch it. Doing so can be harmful to the animal and it is illegal as it violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

If you believe the pup has been unattended for more than 48 hours, looks injured, or is being harassed by someone call the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-800-853-1964.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife at PAWS.

Walk for the animals and help thousands of wild and companion animals receive the care they need at PAWS in the coming year. Join us at PAWSwalk on September 6, 2014.


By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

When you see a vista like the one PAWS staff arrived at yesterday it’s hard to imagine wanting to leave. For the release of a PAWS patient that we've come to know as American Black Bear 2014-1317, we hope she agrees!

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A wildlife release is the best part of a PAWS patient story, however bittersweet, but always rewarding.

This bear’s homebound journey started the night before when PAWS Veterinarians sedated her for her final exam. Once cleared for departure, PAWS staff performed one last task, a weigh in. Final tally, a healthy 151lbs. Good to go!

Once officers from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) arrived to fetch her, PAWS staff and volunteers carried her to her waiting enclosure (pictured, right). There she would sleep off the sedation medication overnight and be ready for the trip north by morning.

At 10am yesterday, PAWS staff and WDFW officers met along Highway 2 and convoyed into the woods, hauling the now wide awake bear up jagged roads and deep into the landscape she will call home.

The story of her recovery and release aired on KOMO TV 4 last night, and their article was posted with more pictures of the quick seconds it took to release American Black Bear 2014-1317. View their photo gallery here.

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It’s been a very busy summer here at PAWS, with many of the now recuperated wildlife being returned to the ecosystem where they belong.

It's thanks to donors and PAWSWalkers that PAWS was able to save this one very lucky bear - as well as all of the animals in our care this summer - and return each to Washington’s gorgeous wilderness.

It's not too late to help us save animals year round, sign up for PAWSwalk today.

American Black Bear 2014-1317 was one of many species who get a second chance thanks to PAWS Donors. Click here and help us help animals.

PAWS Wildlife always needs dedicated volunteers – find out how you can help.

Follow our PAWS Wildlife blog.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

It’s baby squirrel season again at the Wildlife Center, and as things are winding down in the baby bird nursery they're picking up in the small mammal nursery.

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The center is packed full of baby Eastern Gray Squirrels, a few Douglas Squirrels, and the staff and volunteers who have become their surrogate parents.

This is the second round of baby squirrels this year; the first round was back in April. This is because Gray Squirrels breed twice a year if food availability is high.

Squirrels eat mushrooms, flowers, plant shoots and even caterpillars but their preferred food source is mast. Mast is nuts from forest trees such as oaks, beeches and hickories, that are high in fat calories. This is what you typically see a squirrel busily burying in the ground.

The reason squirrels bury their food is because they do not hibernate like other mammals. Instead, they leave food caches around that they will visit again during the winter months.

Now, you may be wondering, “How in the world do squirrels remember where they hide their food?”. Well, squirrels have a very accurate spatial memory and they use land markers and scent to help them find their buried caches. This also helps with seed dispersal and germination, since the caches the squirrels do not eat will start to grow into trees.

Squirrels try to be very secretive when burying their caches so other animals won’t dig them up. If a squirrel feels like it is being watched it will pretend to bury its food. The squirrel will go through the motions of digging a hole, placing the object, and burying it but instead it will actually hide the food in its mouth to save and bury somewhere else.

Squirrel nests are usually made of leaves and are high up in the trees. When baby squirrels are born their eyes are closed and they are hairless. They typically stay in the nest for six weeks but sometimes they fall or are pushed out; that is the main reason they're brought to us here at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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The squirrels we currently have are at different stages of development and require food at different increments of time throughout the day. Our staff and volunteers work diligently to help these babies grow into healthy adults so they can be released and become functioning members of their population once again.

Help us on the wildlife rehabilitation frontline. Become a volunteer.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife.

Walk for the animals and help thousands of wild and companion animals receive the care they need at PAWS in the coming year. Sign up for PAWSwalk on September 6, 2014.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

You probably know by now that PAWSwalk is our biggest fundraiser of the year. You probably also might think that it only helps PAWS rescue thousands of cats and dogs. But did you know it also helps care for thousands of wild animals too?

Each year, PAWS Wildlife Center cares for over 3,000 wild animals from as many as 260 different species. Our main goal is to rehabilitate sick, orphaned and injured animals so that they can be released and become a functioning member of their wild populations once again. To do that, we rely on the donations raised at PAWSWalk every year.

Wildlife at PAWS - August 2014

Today, we are caring for over 200 patients at PAWS Wildlife Center. This summer alone, we have taken in and helped River Otters, Bald Eagles, American Robins, Virginia Opossums and Eastern Cottontails, a Bobcat, Harbor Seals, Mallard Ducks, Hummingbirds, Raccoons, owls, deer, a frog, weasels, swifts and many many many more. In, fact some of the animals in our care have made the news, and another one has been part of an ongoing story.

All of these animals come to us with different needs; from the food they eat, to the habitat they live in, to the medical attention they need, to the amount of time they will be in our care. PAWSwalk helps us support these needs by providing the funds to purchase food, medication, and medical supplies as well as upkeep facilities so we can continue to help these amazing creatures.

Because of PAWSwalk - and PAWSwalkers like you - we have been able to rehabilitate and release hundreds of animals this summer including River Otters, a Western Screech Owl, grown birds from our baby bird nursery, orphaned opossums and squirrels, a Peregrine Falcon, a Creeping Vole, and a Townsend’s Chipmunk, just to name a few.

With the support from people like you who join in our annual PAWSwalk we are able to continue helping animals of all kinds. So, register for PAWSwalk today and come join us at King County's Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA on September 6th! It’s a great way to have fun and raise money for animals. It will be a wild time!

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS year round? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Late summer is a bustling time of year for gulls in the Seattle area and here at PAWS. People are seeing them more readily now and finding injured birds as adult gulls are out gathering food for their hungry chicks.

Gulls are often referred to as seagulls lumping all of the species together. However, there are

actually 19 different species of gulls that live in North America, 14 of which spend part of the year in

Herring Gull sub-adult
Herring Gull - sub-adult

Washington. The term seagull is also very misleading as this suggests they only live near the ocean when in fact many species of gulls live, feed and nest inland. An example of this is the ring billed gull which is very common in eastern Washington.

 

Gulls nest in densely packed colonies and lay their eggs either directly on the ground or in a small nest bowl.The chick’s eyes are open and they are very mobile when they hatch; they are even capable of leaving the nest shortly after hatching. Gulls are very protective parents and will dive bomb potential predators to keep them away from their chicks. If you see healthy chicks that appear to be alone one of their parents is probably nearby watching and it is best to stay away.

Gulls are fantastic fliers and can actually float motionless in the air when looking for food. Gulls can eat just about anything including insects, small fish, other birds and small mammals. They also act as nature’s cleanup crew by scavenging on dead animals and other organic litter which can pose health threats to humans. Gulls are resourceful, smart, and very adaptable. Many species have learned to live and thrive in conjunction with humans, some species have been documented using objects as tools, they have a very complex method of communication and they have a highly developed social structure.

Glaucous Winged Gull chick
Glaucous Winged Gull chick

We have several gulls, from two different species, in our care at the PAWS. They are at different stages of development from very small chicks up to adults. This requires different levels of care from all of our staff and volunteers as they await their return to the wild.

 

Fun Fact: Most adult gulls have a red spot at the tip of their bill, newly hatched chicks use this spot as a target and will peck at it stimulating their parents to feed them.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Leaving home can be scary and a hard thing to do for humans but imagine you are a four week old baby owl (owlets) leaving your nest cavity, high up in a tree, for the first time.

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Owl fledglings are not great fliers at first; for the first five or six weeks out of the nest they hop from branch to branch or take short flights following their parents. During this time owlets can fall to the ground where they stay under a close eye of their parents until they get off of the ground. Sometimes these falls result in an injury and the owlet may not be able to make it back to safety.

This is what happened to a Western Screech Owlet in Redmond. He was found in a driveway by the homeowners one June morning not moving or vocalizing. When he was still in the same spot later that evening they assumed something was wrong. They scooped him up and brought him to PAWS. In our Wildlife Center, he was unable to stand very well and was putting all of his weight on his left leg.

After examining his x-rays PAWS' veterinarian team determined he had a broken right leg. They promptly put a splint on it and placed him under observation to monitor him for any nerve damage in his right foot. After only a few days he was standing on both legs again and could partially flex his right toes. Within two weeks, of his arrival at PAWS, the splint was removed and he was placed in an outdoor enclosure where we continued to monitor his grasping ability.

After 24 more days of cage rest he was able to successfully fly and grasp his perches with both feet. On July 17, at sunset, he was released back to his forest in Redmond where he found safety amongst the trees.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Along with all of the baby birds, here at PAWS we have an array of baby mammals in our care; among them are Virginia opossums.

Most of the baby opossums, or joeys, brought to the Wildlife Center are orphaned as a result of their mothers being hit by cars. Opossums are very primitive mammals that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have changed little since then. They are very slow to react to headlights, other animals and even people, because their primitive brains process information very slowly.

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When we see opossums we may not immediately think about how unique they are or their ecological importance. They are the only marsupial in the United States and they have a long prehensile tail used for climbing trees and hanging upside down, although they do not sleep in that position.

They have 50 teeth, the most of any land mammal in North America, which they use to eat just about anything from seeds to meat - making them good seed dispersers, great at insect and rodent control, as well as keeping the roadways and sidewalks clean.

They have several anti-predator tactics and, although playing opossum helps them fend off some predators, they also have a super power against snakes. They are partially or totally immune to snake venom and will even kill them for food. They rarely become sick with rabies or other wildlife diseases and, even though they have a small brain, they have a very good memory and a very sensitive nose; enabling them to find and remember where food is.

Since females give birth to such a large number of babies at one time the litters brought to PAWS can be as many as 13 babies. This requires a lot of dedication and care from our staff and volunteers to raise them and release them back into the wild.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

Before you go imagining what fun rehabilitating a teenage bear might be, consider this; we don’t want American Black Bear 2014-1317 to know anything about us here at PAWS, we don’t want her to bond with us, to appreciate the time and care we’re taking for her. In fact, we hope never to see her again once she is released.

While that might sound cold, it’s actually the kindest care we can offer her.

So it goes that when it’s time to deliver food to a wildlife patient at PAWS, like American Black Bear 2014-1317, not a word is said. She is remotely shifted to a clean enclosure, safely tucked away from staff. We clean her empty enclosure and search for leftover food items from the prior day. There is no face to face or verbal interaction between caretakers and bear patients.

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American Black Bear 2014-1317 arrived at PAWS a few months back, delivered to us by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife officers when she was discovered frequenting garbage bins in Renton. This juvenile bear was much thinner than a bear her age should be.

She had obviously not found her own territory in the wild due to the enticing aromas coming from people’s food scraps outside their homes. She was a wild bear with wild instincts and she deserved a second chance to make it on her own in her own habitat.

Thanks to the care at PAWS, she’s now over 20lbs heavier and gobbling up a steady diet of bear-appropriate food. She is curious and interested, with a preference for long branches with leaves and buds and fruit to discover along the way. She’ll eat everything we give her, everything that is, except radishes.

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Her distaste for one root vegetable aside, American Black Bear 2014-1317 is growing every day and getting stronger. She still has a way to go and she still needs to gain more weight. But every indication says she’s doing well.

If all goes according to plan, she’ll be retrieved by the same WDFW Officer who brought her to us and returned to the wilderness, away from garbage bins, where she can be more successful.

Once released, her time with PAWS will be a forgettable experience that she puts behind her as she prepares to find a den of her own to sleep in through the upcoming winter months.

In the PAWS Wildlife Hospital kitchen there is a flurry of activity these days, rehabilitators and volunteers sharing information while chopping up fruits and vegetables and weighing portions. In another room, PAWS staff note the details of progress for each animal into our database system.

Black bears aren’t the only animals PAWS cares for day to day - there are about 120 different species spending time at PAWS hospital this summer. Native species like deer and owls and Harbor seals and hummingbirds – all with specific diets, unique needs and for some, routine and complicated surgeries and medical care – are finding their way to health and wholeness at PAWS as we speak. It’s a busy time of year, but one filled with hope, too.

American Black Bear 2014-1317 is one of many species who are getting a second chance thanks to PAWS Donors. Click here and help us help animals.

PAWS Wildlife always needs dedicated volunteers – find out how you can help.

Follow our PAWS Wildlife blog.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

We treat a variety of wildlife injuries here at PAWS Wildlife Center, but one of the most delicate and difficult to treat is eye injuries.

Most wildlife species depend heavily on their sight for survival so when that is compromised it can be very hard, if not impossible, to find food and stay away from predators.This is especially true if your eyes are stuck shut due to an infection, which is exactly what happened to a House Finch in Carnation, Washington.

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When the home owners first saw the House Finch flittering around their farm they noticed he had something wrong with his eyes. They monitored his condition and after a few days they noticed he was unable to fly and one of his eyes seemed to be stuck shut.

They assumed he was having a hard time finding any food or water so they picked him up and brought him all the way to PAWS.

On his initial examination, the veterinarians found he had severe conjunctivitis in his right eye, it was swollen and crusted shut, he had several feathers missing from his head and he was very weak.

It was hard to say at first whether he would be able to see out of that eye again but, after a month of treatment and cage rest, his conjunctivitis cleared up, he regained his strength and was flying once again.

On July 14th he was returned to Carnation and released back on his farm where he could be heard singing from his favorite tree.

Found a bird you think might need help? Read our guide on what to do.

Want to help care for birds at PAWS? Become a Wildlife Bird Nursery Caretaker.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

We are half way through the bustling baby bird season here at PAWS and, similar to the American Crows we talked about a couple weeks ago, we are frequently receiving Dark-eyed Juncos at the Wildlife Center.

Adult Dark-eyed Juncos are small birds that have a dark head with a white belly and white outer tail feathers. When you see one of these birds flittering around your backyard you may think they just look like a typical bird but they are more than that. They have actually had a big impact on ecological research.

Biologists have been studying them since the 1920’s and, thanks to these little birds, we have a better understanding of bird biology and behavior. They are also one of the most common bird species in the United States and can be seen across the entire country.

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The main reason juncos are brought to PAWS, on an almost daily basis, is that they nest on the ground. This makes them and their babies vulnerable to predators, especially cats. This leads to orphaned chicks and injured fledglings, which are what we primarily receive.

When the baby juncos first arrive at PAWS they are housed in the baby bird nursery where volunteers, interns and staff members take the place of their parents; diligently working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep them fed and healthy.

Some of them will be in the nursery for several weeks before they are old enough to graduate to a larger enclosure where they then wait for their release.

Without the dedication of our baby bird nursery 'parents' these young juncos, along with the other baby birds that come to PAWS, would not survive and make it back to the wild.

Want to help care for baby birds at PAWS? Become a Wildlife Bird Nursery Caretaker.

Found a baby bird you think might need help? Read our guide on what to do.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - sponsor a wild animal.