Wednesday, June 5, 2002

Wild Again

Celebrating the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center

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Progressive Animal
Welfare Society

PO Box 1037
Lynnwood, WA 98046

See video of sad baby fawn getting a second chance at PAWS

The fawn could not have had a sadder start to her life. Her mom was giving birth to her on the side of Interstate 90 near cle-elum last weekend, when she was struck by a car and killed instantly. A Woodinville family was driving by and spotted the mom. When they pulled over, they found the mother deer dead, and a small, helpless fawn, still attached with her umbilical cord and placenta, quivering next to her mom. The Woodinville family’s father cut the umbilical cord, tied it up, separated the placenta, and carefully took the fawn into his car. Knowing the fawn would be hungry and it was too late to take her to the PAWS Wildlife Center, they purchased goat milk and fed her through the night and the next morning. They truly saved her life. When she came to the PAWS Wildlife Hospital in Lynnwood we found abrasions on her eyes from the traumatic car crash. Right now her prognosis is guarded, yet we are hopeful that she will be able to run and leap free once again. See video of the fawn’s first exam and feeding.

Chance Encounters
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
The great thing about this job is that every time I go out into the woods, to a wetland, to the seashore or to any other natural area I am pretty much guaranteed to have a wildlife sighting. While it’s true that most of the animals I am seeing are ones that I have brought along with me, I am often impressed by the chance encounters I have with wild animals during my trips into the field. Sometimes, as I experienced today, the encounters happen at very unexpected times.

Barn Owl release

PAWS Staff member Barbara Varouhas frees a barn owl. This was the second of three barn owls that were released in the Bothell area on May 25th.

I am usually acutely aware of the wildlife around me and even while driving in the city my attention is drawn to every squirrel, pigeon and sparrow that I pass. As I returned from a release today, however, my mind was distracted as I tried to formulate an idea for the next “Wild Again” newsletter (yes, the one you are reading right now). I stopped for gas at a station on 164th Street SW in Lynnwood. As I pulled out of the gas station and came to a stop at a red light, I suddenly had an intense feeling that I was being watched. I looked to my left and saw nothing unusual. I then looked to my right to find that I had picked up two passengers. Perched on the passenger side mirror of my truck was a male house finch. His brilliant rose-colored head caught my eye immediately and for a moment I didn’t even notice the female house finch that was perched on the windowsill, rubbing her beak up against the glass. The male was very aware of my presence and was staring directly at me. The female must have been unable to see anything but a reflection from her angle, and she was having difficulty understanding why she was unable to move through what her eyes were interpreting as open space. I waved my hand hoping that she would at least see the movement and stop attempting to push her head through a solid object. The male finch reacted immediately and retreated to a nearby bush. Seeing the reaction of the male, the female abruptly stopped what she was doing and tried to figure out what had caused such alarm in her mate. She looked towards the bush and then back in my direction. After a moment of hesitation she reluctantly flew away. I thanked them both for the idea they had given me.

Another interesting encounter occurred on a raccoon release. This encounter also began with a feeling of being watched. I was on a piece of private land just outside of Monroe and, having just completed the release I was talking to the landowner and his son. During the course of the conversation I had a feeling that something other than the two humans was observing me. I looked to my left and was surprised to see two tiny, bright and very alert eyes fixed on me. On top of a woodpile no more than three feet away was a long-tailed weasel. He was clearly upset when my eyes met his but his curiosity continued to get the better of him. For the next several minutes the weasel kept disappearing into the woodpile only to reappear at a new location. Every time he reappeared his nose was twitching and he was staring directly at me. Eventually his curiosity was satisfied and he made a quick dash through the grass and into the thick undergrowth nearby.

Just last week, on a duck release, I had an encounter with a much larger cousin of the long-tailed weasel. While driving alongside one of the holding ponds at the Everett Pollution Control Facility I saw two heads pop up out of the water. The City of Everett employee that was with me at the time had mentioned only a few minutes before that he had seen a river otter in the area several days earlier. The two otters that had popped their heads up validated his story. They quickly dove at the sight of the truck and when they resurfaced, a third otter had joined them. Much like the long-tailed weasel had been, they were curious but wary. They continued to dive and resurface as we drove alongside them and they eventually moved behind a concrete barrier where they could no longer be seen.

These are but a few of the countless encounters I have had with wild, free-living animals while restoring other wild animals to that same free-living status. I always get the same feeling of excitement during these interactions and I am always encouraged to know that there are still wild animals out there that have not been damaged by cars, cats, chemicals or myriad other human-caused dangers. I make the same wish for each of these animals that I encounter. I wish that they will never in their lives require the services of the PAWS Wildlife Department. I finish the wish with the thought, “But, should you ever need us, we’ll be here”…

Wildlife Release tally: May 15 to May 28, 2002
1 Eastern Cottontail
10 Mallards
1 Long-tailed Weasel
1 American Crow
1 Hermit Thrush
1 Pine Siskin
29 Virginia Opossums
1 Douglas Squirrel
1 Warbling Vireo
1 Western Tanager
20 Eastern Gray Squirrels
3 Barn Owls
1 Golden Eagle
1 Bald Eagle
1 Barn Owl
5 European Starlings
5 House Finches
1 Dark-eyed Junco

Wildlife Release tally: 2002 Year to Date
196 mammals and birds

All rights reserved. 2002 Progressive Animal Welfare Society

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