Celebrating the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center
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by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
When hiking in a National Park, you can expect to trip over things if
you are not paying attention to the trail. The list of obstacles
usually consists of rocks, tree roots, fallen branches, and other
miscellaneous inanimate objects. On Sunday July 14th, however, I nearly
added "black bear" to the (admittedly long) list of things I have
tripped over while hiking.
A bear on the trail is worth two in the bush. See footage of the bear that Kevin Mack had a close encounter with last week.
Several thoughts should have popped into my mind after the initial surprise of the encounter wore off. The most obvious is, "Why weren't you paying more attention to your surroundings in bear country?". However, the thought that did emerge was one that I often have when encountering wildlife and that is, "Do I know you?". It may seem like a strange thought to have, possibly even more so when standing 20 feet from a bear. But after working at PAWS for over 7 years and seeing thousands of animals being returned to the wild, it doesn't seem all that far fetched that I should eventually run into a former patient or two. In the past two years two black bears have been released within 15 miles of the spot at which I encountered this particular bear. 15 miles is not that far for a bear to travel, especially if it is in search of a territory to call its own.
This orphaned juvenile red crossbill was raised at the PAWS Wildlife Center. By the time you read this, she will have been released.
The fact that the bear was not one that PAWS had released certainly did not make the encounter any less exciting for me. I do often wonder, however, how many times I have run into animals in the wild that were raised or treated by the staff and volunteers of the PAWS Wildlife Department.
Found in Chehalis with a wing injury, this great horned owl is currently in PAWS' care.
If you live in Washington State, you too may be encountering animals that have been treated and released by PAWS. The robin that forages in your yard or the red-tailed hawk that you see soaring over the highway on your way to work may very well be examples of PAWS success stories. Whenever I release an animal I offer a few words, spoken when I'm alone and unspoken if others are attending the release. The offering varies for each animal but it always ends with the same wish. "Should we ever meet again, may it be on your terms, not mine." I can't help but wonder how many times that wish has come true. Help PAWS Help Washington’s Wildlife
The PAWS Wildlife Department needs your help in order to treat wildlife in need. This summer the PAWS Wildlife Center is receiving high numbers of sick, injured and orphaned wild animals; more than 2,500 at the time of this writing. Caring for wildlife is a time, labor and resource intensive activity, and our work is funded solely by donations from caring individuals such as yourself. Your gift of $100 will help PAWS to provide food for orphaned deer fawns, x-rays for injured bald eagles, and care for countless other wild animals in need. Please help us continue to provide the best care for Washington’s wildlife by donating to PAWS today.
Wildlife Release tally: July 10 to July 23, 2002
Wildlife Release tally: 2002 Year to Date
All rights reserved. ©2002 Progressive Animal Welfare Society