Wednesday, April 10th, 2004

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PAWS Mailing Address:
PO Box 1037
Lynnwood WA, 98046

PAWS Physical Address:
15305 44th Ave W
Lynnwood, WA 98037

Kevin Mack
Two Wild Years
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

In March of 2002, I was asked by Richard Huffman (then PAWS Communication Director) to write a short article for a new, wildlife-focused email newsletter that he was developing. I had, up to that time, been sending out weekly email release updates to PAWS staff, and the updates often included written, firsthand accounts of releases and/or wildlife photos. Richard wished to expose a broader audience to those release stories, and to the work of the PAWS Wildlife Center in general. It was with this goal in mind that he was creating the newsletter. It sounded like an excellent idea to me, so I obliged with a 500-word essay titled "Different Seasons, Different Challenges", and on April 10th, 2002 the first PAWS "Wild Again" was released into the "wild"… also known as the Internet.

You are currently reading issue number 52 of "Wild Again", which means it has been two full years since this biweekly newsletter was launched. The 52 issues released so far have been filled with more than 48,000 words, 140 wildlife photos (representing 63 different species), 14 video clips, 33 firsthand accounts of wildlife releases, one alien abduction analogy, and, if I recall correctly, a bad pun or two. If you have missed any of the past issues and would like to read them, they are all available for viewing in the PAWS Email Network archives at: www.paws.org/about/emailnetwork/archive. If you missed the first issue, however, it has been reprinted below for your enjoyment.

Cormorant

Starting with his head, a double-crested cormorant receives a physical examination at the PAWS wildlife center.

I thank you all for reading, and I would like to extend a special thanks to all of you who have given feedback on "Wild Again" via email, phone, or in person. I greatly appreciate hearing from all of you. In addition I would like to thank PAWS Webmaster Matt Brown for his excellent work in providing the layout for this newsletter. Thanks also to PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitator Peggy Faranda for the many wonderful photos that she has provided over the past two years. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all PAWS staff, volunteers, interns, board members, donors, and supporters for making the work that inspires the writing in "Wild Again" a reality.

Different Seasons, Different Challenges
First printed on April 10th, 2002

Every fall, thousands of Snow Geese migrate south from their arctic breeding grounds to the Skagit Refuge and Flats in Southwestern Skagit County. There, in the company of swans, ducks and other migratory and resident bird species, they pass the winter months. As spring approaches, they make the return trip north to mate and raise their young on the arctic tundra. Waterfowl are by no means the only animals following these regular patterns of seasonal movement. Many species of songbirds, raptors and seabirds are also migrating into and out of the state with the changing of the seasons, and some resident bird and mammal species show altitudinal movement associated with snowfall and subsequent melt. The movement pattern of each species has evolved over thousands of years, and seems to provide the animals with a way to cope with ever-changing climatic conditions.

Red Fox

This red fox is currently being treated for head trauma at PAWS.

Although it has evolved over a much shorter period of time, a pattern of seasonal movement is also apparent within the PAWS Wildlife Department. As fall approaches PAWS prepares for an influx of seabirds. Grebes, loons, murres, fulmars, scoters, auklets and a variety of other species live or over-winter in the saltwater bays of Washington State. Over the course of the winter, it is not unusual for PAWS to receive 100 or more sick, injured or displaced seabirds, especially after major windstorms along the Pacific Coast. During the winter, the bulk of the activity at the wildlife center focuses on caring for our seabird patients and other sick and injured adult wildlife that we receive. Winter is also the time to catch up on projects and prepare for the coming spring.

As the animals in the state increase their activity in spring, so does the PAWS Wildlife Department. Spring marks the beginning of breeding season for many species, and that means orphaned babies are soon to follow. Greater than 80% of all animals the PAWS Wildlife Department receives arrive between April and September, and the majority of these are babies. The babies are time and labor intensive, requiring hand feeding, cage cleaning and often very specialized care. In preparation for the influx of babies, new volunteer shifts are added, seasonal employees are hired and seabird caging is moved out and replaced with baby bird and mammal caging. As summer progresses, different species hatch their clutches or give birth to their litters and the staff and volunteers in the PAWS Wildlife Department continue to feed and care for an ever-changing array of hungry young animals.

As summer progresses towards fall, more and more of the babies reach the age of independence and are released back to the wild. Even before the last of the summer babies is released, however, the PAWS Wildlife Department staff are preparing for the coming fall and winter. As the Snow Geese return to the Skagit Flats with their young-of-the-year in tow, the PAWS Wildlife Department is once again ready for the fall/winter windstorm season and the inevitable challenges it will bring.

Wildlife Release tally: March 3rd to March 23rd, 2004

1 European Starling
1 American Robin
1 Rock Pigeon
1 Glaucous-winged Gull
2 American Crows
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Great Blue Heron
1 Red-necked Grebe


Wildlife Release tally: 2004
51 animals

All rights reserved. 2004 Progressive Animal Welfare Society