Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

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

Kevin Mack
Difficult Admissions
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

As Wild Again celebrates the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center, I have written many times about what it is like to release a wild animal. These stories have outlined the end of the rehabilitation process for a variety of different animals. But what about the beginning of the process? What is it like to ADMIT a wild animal to the PAWS Wildlife Center? Both releases and admissions can bring up overwhelming emotions, but they tend to lie at opposite ends of the spectrum. The front desk is the hardest area of the wildlife center in which to work as any staff member will attest. Our wildlife reception and admissions staff members see our patients when they are at their worst; before their wounds have been dressed or any treatment has begun. They also must assist members of the public that are often having difficulty coping with the unexpected and unfamiliar situation of finding an injured or orphaned wild animal. In their interactions with the public, in person and on the phone, wildlife reception and admissions staff experience both the best and the worst of human nature.

Coyote Face

This orphaned juvenile Coyote was one of 34 animals that were admitted to the PAWS Wildlife Center on 6/6/03.

I considered many different ways to try to give insight into what it is like to work in our admissions area on any given day. I decided in the end that a simple list of the admissions would be sufficient. Below is a list of animals that were admitted to PAWS on June 17, 2003. As you read the list, remember that each of these animals came in with a human that also needed guidance, care, and reassurance. Also, the list does not include the more than 30 phone calls that were logged at the reception desk for this day. A large component of wildlife rehabilitation is the education and support of members of the public in their interactions with wildlife. This is one of the primary tasks of the wildlife reception and admissions staff both in person (while an animal is being admitted) and over the phone. Although the following list seems large, it is not uncommon to get more than double this number of animals on any given summer day.

Wildlife Admissions for 6/17/03

9:46 am- An adult Golden-crowned Kinglet was brought in after he struck a window in shoreline. He was suffering from severe head trauma.

11:28 am- A juvenile Band-tailed Pigeon from Kirkland was admitted. He had been attacked by a domestic cat and was missing his tail feathers.

12:14 pm- On orphaned English House Sparrow from Lynnwood was admitted after an unsuccessful attempt to locate her nest.

1:15 pm- An adult Spotted Towhee from Lynnwood was admitted with injuries he suffered while being attacked by a domestic cat.

1:21 pm- A Juvenile Canada Goose from Maple Valley was admitted with injuries that were inflicted by a domestic dog.

1:26 pm- An adult Belted Kingfisher from Kenmore was admitted with head trauma- the result of a collision with a window.

1:33 pm- An adult Bewick’s Wren from Seattle was admitted with injuries he sustained during a domestic cat attack.

1:50 pm- Seven nestling Bushtit’s from Tacoma were admitted after their nest was destroyed by human activity.

Juvie Killdeer

This young Killdeer was one of 17 animals that were admitted to the PAWS Wildlife Center on 6/26/03.

2:00 pm- A fledgling English House Sparrow from Seattle was admitted after he fell into an ornamental pond containing a mixture of bleach and water.

4:16 pm- A juvenile Eastern Gray Squirrel from Seattle was admitted after he was caught in a rat trap.

5:54 pm- A juvenile English House Sparrow from Seattle was admitted after being found in the road.

6:03 pm- A juvenile Black-tailed Deer from the I-90 corridor was admitted after being found on the roadside next to her dead mother.

6:41 pm- A juvenile Black-capped Chickadee from Lynnwood was admitted after being attacked by a domestic cat.

7:18 pm- An adult Ring-necked Dove from Seattle was admitted. This bird was an escaped pet and was transferred to PAWS Companion Animal Shelter.

7:21 pm- An adult Glaucous-winged gull, a juvenile American Crow, and a juvenile Virginia Opossum were transferred from Seattle Animal Control. The gull was suffering from wing injuries (possibly due to being hit by a car), and the crow and opossum were both suspected orphans.

8:20 pm- An adult rock dove from Seattle was admitted after she was found in the middle of the road with her legs paralyzed. She had apparently been hit by a car.

A list like this is difficult to read. Implied in each entry is the pain and fear of the wild animals that are involved, as well as the stress of the humans that help them. But this list is created at the beginning of a process that will hopefully end with these same animals being placed on a much different kind of list. This second list resides on a clipboard that is hanging by the door in my office. A two word label at the top of the clipboard simply reads “Release Log”. It is the individuals that appear on this particular list that make every position in the PAWS Wildlife Department, no matter how difficult or emotionally trying, more than worth the effort.

Wildlife Release tally: June 11th to June 24th, 2003

35 Mallards
15 Eastern Gray Squirrels
1 Canada Goose
1 Virginia Opossum
1 Mountain Beaver
4 Eastern Cottontails
1 Golden-crowned Kinglet
9 Black-capped Chickadees
32 Virginia Opossums
19 English House Sparrows
1 Dark-eyed Junco
1 Spotted Towhee
6 Steller's Jays

Wildlife Release tally: 2003
427 animals

All rights reserved. 2003 Progressive Animal Welfare Society