PAWS Wild Again

Inspiring stories about the PAWS Wildlife Center and the animals we serve

November 30th, 2005   

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PO Box 1037
Lynnwood WA, 98046

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15305 44th Ave W
Lynnwood, WA 98087

Kevin Mack

Feeling Free
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist

On November 15th, five young Raccoons that had been raised at PAWS during the summer months were released near a stream on a beautiful piece of King County Parks and Recreation property. They were the last of the 2005 summer babies to be released, and they were extremely eager to explore their new surroundings. All five of the Raccoons were orphans, taking their first independent steps into a world without walls. Understandably, they exhibited some nervousness at first, but this quickly subsided as they were drawn into their senses by the many smells, sights, sounds, tastes and, most of all, textures around them. Raccoons obtain much of their knowledge about the world through their very sensitive forepaws. Adult Raccoons generally bolt out of their carrier and run away, having had plenty of experience with most of the objects and substrates around them at the release site. Young Raccoons on the other hand, will take their time moving away, fascinated by the feel of every plant, rock or clump of dirt they encounter. The following photos will give you an idea of the progression of the five Raccoons released on November 5th.

poised to leave carriers
It’s a big world out there, and the raccoons paused in the doorways of their carriers to see if the coast was clear.

poised to leave carriers
Curiosity overtook them and the raccoons exited their carriers. Two began to paw the mud along the stream bank, two felt along the bottom of the stream, and one took an interest in the smooth surface of a rock

raccoon in branches
Everything within their grasp was thoroughly looked at, sniffed, and felt. In this photo, a raccoon checks out the texture of a salmonberry bush.

raccoon in water
This raccoon was especially focused on the stream. As he felt along the bottom, he periodically pulled up items that he had found. Some of these, presumably insect larvae, he popped into his mouth.

raccoon in foliage
This female began to overturn leaves and dig in the dirt while exploring her surroundings.

Another raccoon took an interest in the leaf litter on the primitive road that led into the release site.

four raccoons on roadway
He was soon joined by three of his former cagemates.

the release site
Eventually, all of the raccoons disappeared into the brush. For a short while we could monitor their progress by the movement of the plants that they felt as they passed them. Then, all was quiet.

Nine animals were released between November 15th and November 28th, 2005. Thanks to all of you for helping to make these releases possible!

  • 5 Raccoons
  • 1 Golden-crowned Sparrow
  • 1 Virginia Opossum
  • 1 Rock Pigeon
  • 1 Barn Owl

553 wild animals have been released since the beginning of 2005.
Thanks to all of you for helping to make these releases possible!

All rights reserved. 2005 Progressive Animal Welfare Society

A Northwest leader in protecting animals since 1967, the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) shelters homeless animals, rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife, and empowers people to demonstrate compassion and respect for animals in their daily lives.