May 4th, 2005
Not Quite Seaworthy
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
On April 19th, 2005, a young beaver spent the day swimming in Puget
Sound near some waterfront homes in Seattle. Beavers and saltwater do
not mix, and the animal eventually came ashore in a weakened, lethargic
state. At that point, concerned residents captured the beaver and
brought him to PAWS for evaluation and treatment. He was entered into
PAWS database as case #05-0364.
Other than some minor foot abrasions, and 2 small cuts at the base of
his tail, Beaver 05-0364 had no serious injuries. His time in the
saltwater had taken a toll, however. A crusty, milky-white discharge
came from his right nostril, and he was dehydrated and disoriented.
After administering subcutaneous rehydrating fluids, the wildlife staff
placed the beaver in a freshwater pool. According to the beaver's
chart, he drank "copious amounts of water" when placed in the pool. He
swam well, but he was still very weak from his day spent in the sound,
and it took him nearly a week to recover fully.
Beavers generally live in colonies that are comprised of family units.
Young beavers often disperse from the colony to seek out their own
territories when they reach sexual maturity at about two years of age.
We can't know for sure, but this is likely what beaver 05-0364 was
doing when he took a wrong turn and ended up in the sound. On April
29th he was released into Lake Washington in an area that provided him
both with good habitat, and many routes for safe dispersal if he chose
to leave the area. The following photos, many of which were taken by
PAWS Humane Educator Julie Stonefelt, tell the story of his release:
Beaver 05-0364 enjoys a meal in his cage at the PAWS
A close-up view shows that the beaver has eaten through the
outer bark and has also ingested the living, green layer
(cambium) beneath it.
A close-up view of the beaver's most distinguishing feature.
At the release site, the carrier was placed about 6 feet from
the water, and the door was opened.
Those six feet turned out to be a little too intimidating for the
beaver to cross when he knew humans were standing close
by. I moved the carrier to the water's edge and the beaver
The beaver waded through shallow water, making his way out
into the lake.
He climbed over a log, presenting a good view of his 30+
Once he cleared the log the beaver was in deeper water. He
was now free to swim, and he picked up the pace.
The beaver dove, and his forward progress could then only be
tracked by the trail of bubbles rising to the surface from his
The beaver resurfaced in the distance and disappeared into a
thick tangle of branches overhanging the water of his new
Wild animals released between April 20th and April 30th, 2005:
All rights reserved. ©2005 Progressive Animal Welfare Society
1 Cooper's Hawk
3 Eastern Cottontails
1 Varied Thrush
1 Blue-winged Teal
1 Virginia Opossum
1 Silver-haired Bat
1 Purple Finch
1 White-crowned Sparrow
1 Fox Sparrow
68 wild animals have been released since the beginning of 2005.