Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Wild Again

Celebrating the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center

PAWS Wildlife

Injured Baby Animal step by step guide

PAWS Home Page

Become a member

Donate to PAWS

Volunteer with PAWS

Contact PAWS

Report Animal Cruelty

PAWS Events Calendar

Wild Again Back Issues

Please direct questions or comments to To unsubscribe, or subscribe to additional newsletters, please click here. If PAWS Wild Again was forwarded to you and you would like to subscribe, click here. Wild Again and other PAWS services rely entirely on your donations. Please give to PAWS.

Progressive Animal
Welfare Society

PO Box 1037
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Kevin Mack
Familiar Faces?
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.

The encounter occurred along a stretch of the Frying Pan Creek Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park. My hiking companion and I had just crossed Frying Pan Creek and we were walking along a stretch of trail that was bordered by thick vegetation.

Watch the Video

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.

I was looking back over my shoulder and having a conversation when I suddenly noticed movement in my peripheral vision. I looked forward to discover that a bear was crossing the trail no more than 3 feet in front of me. Needless to say, I stopped in my tracks. The bear showed no noticeable reaction to me as he finished crossing the trail and began feeding on some vegetation about 20 feet away.

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.

As I stood and watched the bear graze I calculated distances and directions to the nearest bear release sites in my head. I was so caught up in the excitement of the close encounter that I had forgotten for the moment that I needed only look as far as the bear's ears to determine whether or not he was a PAWS Wildlife Department alumnus. Every bear released by PAWS is fitted with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) ear tags for identification. The bear standing before me was clearly not tagged, therefore I had just made a new acquaintance. At the same time that this realization set in, it dawned on me that I had brought a PAWS video camera along on the trip specifically to film animals in the wild. I grabbed the camera and managed to film a little bit of the bear's foraging activity before he tired of my company and disappeared into the bushes.

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.

Great Horned Owl

Found in Chehalis with a wing injury, this great horned owl is currently in PAWS' care.

Due to both technical issues surrounding the tagging of smaller mammals and legal issues surrounding the banding of migratory birds, most of the animals released by PAWS are not permanently marked. Behavior-wise, once the animals are released they become indistinguishable from other members of their species living in the wild. For these reasons, it is very possible that I have run into former patients on numerous occasions and just not recognized them as such.

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

13 Canada Geese
9 Virginia Opossums
1 Mountain Beaver
4 Eastern Cottontails
4 House Finches
7 House Sparrows
1 Song Sparrow
1 Brown-headed Cowbird
1 Spotted Towhee
1 Dark-eyed Junco
12 American Robins
3 Eastern Gray Squirrels
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Bewick's Wren
12 American Crows
3 Band-tailed Pigeons
1 English House Sparrow
9 Steller's Jays

Wildlife Release tally: 2002 Year to Date
691 animals

All rights reserved. 2002 Progressive Animal Welfare Society

{{url("http:// ")}}