Celebrating the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center
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by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
On October 30, 2003, four deer that had been raised at PAWS during the summer months were released. Due to a series of wonderful photographs taken by wildlife rehabilitator Peggy Faranda, I had the opportunity to do something a bit different for this edition of Wild Again. The following is a step by step pictorial of the entire release process for the four deer. I hope you enjoy it. If you receive the text-only version of Wild Again, click here for a web based version of the pictorial.
Meet the Release Candidates
Tag #B3- B3 was found next to a highway on 6/1. At the
time he was found, B3 was attempting to nurse from the
body of his mother who had been killed by a car. He
was rescued by a caring citizen and was brought to
PAWS the following day.
Tag #R 95- R95's story is sad but common. Very young
deer fawns spend much of their time lying quiet, still,
and alone. Does visit their young fawns only when they
need to be fed, since their presence near the fawns may
draw the attention of predators. R95 was found lying
quietly in the grass on 5/19. She was assumed to be an
orphan, and was taken by well-meaning but misinformed
humans. Her finders then illegally kept her for nearly two
months, raising her in their house. By the time she
arrived at PAWS on 7/15 she was acting unafraid of
humans. She was habituated, but not irreversibly so.
After spending 3 months in a pen with other deer (and
with limited human contact), she was deemed releasable.
Tag # R91 (left) and B2 (right)- Much like R95, R91 was
a victim of kidnapping. She was found lying quietly in a
pasture on 6/6, and was taken. After spending two
weeks in the finder's home, she was brought PAWS on
6/19. Like B3, B2 lost his mother to a car on 6/1. He
was standing dazed in the middle of the road when he
was rescued. He arrived at PAWS the following day.
In order to capture the deer for transport, they must be
herded down a chute and into a waiting transport box.
Here you can see (from left to right) veterinarian Dr. John
Huckabee, myself, wildlife rehabilitator Jenny Schlieps,
and seasonal staff member Julia Michalak spreading out
to herd deer towards the chute (not visible in photo).
Dr. Huckabee spreads his arms to discourage R95 from
rushing past him and escaping the trap.
As fawns enter the chute, a wall is
closed in behind them. This fawn
entered the chute and then turned
back around to find his way blocked.
Dr. Huckabee and I enter the chute and start to move
the deer towards a small dark stall. Affixed (from the
outside) to the back wall of the stall is a deer transport
box. A flashlight shined in through a hole at the back of
the box makes it appear to the deer as if there may be
an exit in that direction. I carry a padded board in front
of me in case the deer changes its mind and attempts to
exit through or over me and Dr. Huckabee.
This is the opening in the wall to
which the transport box opening is
coupled. You can see the stall door,
and just beyond it the wall of the
Safely contained in a transport box, one of the deer is
loaded into the back of a truck with the help of
(counterclockwise starting at left) facilities caretaker
Jim Green, wildlife rehabilitator Jenny Schlieps,
seasonal wildlife staff members Tigger Birch and Julia
Michalak, Dr. John Huckabee, and myself.
A second box is loaded and everything is securely
strapped down for transport. The other two transport
boxes were loaded onto a different truck.
In transit to the release site, we were thanking the DOT
for the HOV lane. Hopefully this photo documents the
last time any of these deer will be on a busy interstate.
At the Release Site
After a two hour drive we arrived at our destination- an
800 acre piece of land owned by the Heernett
Environmental Foundation. We unloaded the four
transport boxes in a huge field bordered by forest.
The boxes were carried a short distance from the
vehicles (here with the additional help of seasonal wildlife
staff member Kathryn Reeves), and were lined up facing
the forest (next photo).
The last box is positioned and the stage is set for the
R95 cautiously exits her transport box. If you look
closely, you can see the rumps of R91 and B3 behind
her. They were facing the wrong direction and were not
immediately aware that they were being set free.
Now free from the box, R95 notices the forest to her left.
There is a break in the fence (not visible here) that
provides an easy path of entry. Notice that B3 has made
a little progress backing out of his transport box. R91
has not moved and B2 is still hesitating to make his
After B3 backs out of the box, he is startled and makes
a short dash. B2 sees this and bolts as well. R95 gets
alarmed and her tail starts to come up, signaling danger
to the other deer. R91 has yet to move. Her rump is still
visible as it sticks out of the box.
At last R91 backed out of the box and joined the other
3 deer. The 4 of them stood on the edge of the forest
with twitching ears and noses. They slowly moved down
a small slope and disappeared into the shadows beneath
the trees...all but one of them that is.
R95 straggled behind a bit and investigated the field
more closely. When she realized she had lost the herd,
she began following the fence line. She stopped every
so often and sniffed between the slats, presumably
following the deer on the opposite side of the fence by
She tracked them all the way to the opposite end of the
field where there was another open gate waiting for her.
She stopped and took one look back at us before
exiting through the gate and rejoining her former cage
Wildlife Release tally: October 15th to October 21st, 2003
Wildlife Release tally: 2003
All rights reserved. ©2003 Progressive Animal Welfare Society