All Grown Up

You may remember last summer’s feature in PAWS magazine of the two, tiny orphaned beaver kits PAWS took in. One had been found, weak and alone on a sandbar in the Cedar River near the City of Renton’s town hall. The other had been orphaned when a jet ski struck and killed her mother. Both weighed only about one pound when they were admitted to the wildlife center over a year ago. beavers are sensitive creatures which makes it challenging to raise them from such a young age. Everyone at PAWS was determined to do the best job possible to give these orphans a second chance at a wild life.

We are thrilled to inform you that the beaver kits did indeed thrive. They grew to become healthy sub-adult beavers weighing in at about 30 pounds each. Over the winter they practiced their building skills, piling branches and small logs into structures that resembled the lodges and dams they need in the wild. By spring, their size, behavior and construction skills indicated it was time for the beavers to return home.

We searched for the perfect release spot and found a small pond surrounded by Red Alder trees (a favorite food of beavers), on the Heernett Environmental Foundation’s 850-acre preserve in Tenino. The Foundation generously agreed to welcome the beavers, and check their progress from time to time. As the release day grew near, PAWS Wildlife Facilities Caretaker Jim Green designed and built a beautiful floating lodge that will provide shelter and safety for the beavers until they can build their own lodge or burrow. With their own personal cedar houseboat in which to hide, eat and sleep, the two orphaned beavers returned to the wild world where they belong.

Photo Captions

1 & 2: Weighing only about one pound each when admitted, the beaver kits grew up together at PAWS Wildlife Center. By the time they were released, they had spent more than a year in PAWS' care.

3: As the beavers matured they practiced their construction skills. This is what their enclosure looked like on release day. All of the logs and branches around the hide box in the background were placed there by the beavers.

4: This floating lodge will serve as a temporary home for the beavers. They can enter and exit the water through a square opening underneath. A sliding door on the front allowed PAWS staff to place the beavers in the lodge at the release site.

5: With the lodge anchored to a log at the release site, PAWS Wildlife Facilities Caretaker Jim Green opened the sliding door so the beavers could be placed inside. Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager Dondi Byrne helped hold Jim's raft steady.

6: After they were placed inside the lodge, the beavers exited through the bottom to explore a sheltered area under the log to which their lodge had been secured. Having been raised at PAWS with minimal human contact, they were wary of the people who were there to wish them well. Joyful for this moment of success after a long year, the humans left the beavers to explore their new home in peace.

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