Celebrating the wildlife releases of the PAWS Wildlife Center
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by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
The September 22nd edition of Wild Again brought you the story of six orphaned raccoons that were returned to the wild. As is generally the case, the raccoons in that story were released at dusk, so I was unable to capture any photos of the release. This is unfortunate, as I would have loved to share the visuals of the experience with you in addition to the text description. Fortunately, a raccoon release that I performed on September 28th gave me the opportunity to provide you with the visuals that were missing from the earlier story. The three raccoons featured in the following photos were the first of nine to be released that evening, and the sun was only just starting to set as they left their carrier. They are orphaned siblings (two females and a male) that were raised at PAWS from infancy. These photos show the raccoons' reaction as they are set free along a salmon-bearing stream in their new home.
Shortly after the door opened, the two female raccoons
emerged. One sniffed the air cautiously while the other
immediately dunked her paws in some nearby water.
The female that dunked her paws in the water proceeded
to feel along the bottom and overturn rocks. Shortly
after this picture was taken, she popped something
(most likely an aquatic insect larva) into her mouth.
The second female moved away from the stream,
feeling under rocks as she went.
In this photo, both females have moved towards the
camera. The male has emerged to take over where his
sister left off at the stream's edge.
One of the females paused to examine the door that held
her captive only moments before.
She then circled around and began to climb on top of
her former prison. At this point, she noticed the nearby
Quickly losing interest in the photographer, the raccoon
began to inspect the branches above her.
The raccoons eventually left the carrier behind and
began working their way upstream. I walked out into the
stream to get one last glimpse of the former patients that
had spent more than three months in PAWS's care.
Back in their proper context, they appeared to be more
alive than they had ever been in a cage. All of their
senses were engaged, all of their instincts were relevant,
and they were free to respond to them as they wished.
One of the female raccoons turned to look at me, while
her sister foraged in the stream behind her. I snapped a
final photo before thanking them, and leaving them to
carry on with their lives.
Wildlife Release tally: October 6th to October 15th, 2004
Wildlife Release tally: 2004
All rights reserved. ©2004 Progressive Animal Welfare Society