PAWS Magazine

Issue 37, Spring 1998

1997 Annual Report - A Second Chance for Wildlife

The PAWS Wildlife Center received 5,142 animals during 1997. Of those animals for whom rehabilitation was attempted (not counting those which were dead on arrival or euthanized on arrival due to a poor prognosis for recovery) 51% were successfully returned to a life in the wild.

The Wildlife Center cared for 166 different species of animals ranging from mammals like black bears and harbor seals to birds like red-tailed hawks and downy woodpeckers. Threatened bald eagles and endangered peregrine falcons were received, treated and released. In January we treated an emaciated snowy owl, a very unusual Washington state visitor, and released it after a month of care. A barred owl that suffered from head trauma after being hit by a car in St. Edwards State Park was also treated and released. Only a handful of pairs of this look-alike cousin of the spotted owl breed in urban areas like greater Seattle. Dozens of seabirds such as western grebes and Pacific loons were rescued from coastal beaches and returned there after rehabilitation.

As a result of a successful seal rescue on an Edmonds beach, the PAWS Wildlife Center was certified by the National Marine Fisheries Service to rehabilitate seal pups in 1997.

Radio-collaring and tracking released patients continued to provide us with valuable information such as post-release movements and survival. This year we were able to track two black bear cubs, two bobcat kittens, and a bald eagle.

Staff and volunteers kept the clinic operating 15 hours a day during our busy summer season from April through September. Over 1,000 animals were received in May alone, most of these were orphaned animals. A few of the more unusual ones included deer fawns, wood ducks, otters, and violet-green swallows. Throughout 1997, 303 volunteers set a new record by working 21,493 hours. Our volunteers hold a number of different positions including Wildlife Care Assistant, Rescue Team Member, Bird Nursery Care Worker, Wildlife Admittance, and Info Worker and a newly created Gray Squirrel Foster Care Provider. This new position allows us to give a higher quality of care to the hundreds of orphan squirrels we receive each year, while freeing up space and time at the center. We continued our intern program by hosting 17 interns from 16 universities across the United States and Ireland. These students were taught basic wildlife medicine and care skills. In addition, high school students and their team leader from the Youth Volunteer Corps of King County raised birds in our bird nursery for the month of June.

Work on the Large Mammal Facility, a proposed center in a rural area where we can raise large mammals and raptors away from human noises and smells, progressed throughout the year. Waterleaf Architecture and Interiors donated a tremendous amount of their time and skills to create drawings of the proposed center. Planning and preparations for the Wild Night Auction, a fundraiser for this project, also took place.

The Wildlife Center’s rehabilitation efforts attracted local and national media attention. Front-page photos of an orphaned bear cub were featured in The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer and CBS News Coast to Coast filmed a bear release. Local newspapers covered a story about the Wildlife Center and Puget Power working together to return a young barn owl to its nest 50 feet up in the rafters of a horse barn in Kirkland. The Center also contributed several newspaper, television and radio interviews regarding pressures on wildlife and human wildlife interactions.

As pioneers in the science of wildlife rehabilitation, the Wildlife Center continued to exchange information with the broader national and international science community. Center staff presented a paper on bear rehabilitation and post release survival at the International Association for Bear Research and Management, Sixth Western Black Bear Workshop. Our staff veterinarian attended the Association of Avian Veterinarians Conference in Columbus, OH in March. All Wildlife Center staff helped prepare for the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Annual Symposium during March of 1998.

Throughout the year the Center provided information to hundreds of callers on ways to solve problem wildlife situations. We staffed informational booths at many events including the Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show, Tree-mendous Seattle, Issaquah Salmon Days and Earth Share of Washington’s A Day in the Park. And finally, editors and a photographer from The Wright Group gathered information and photographs from the Wildlife Center to create a children’s book on wildlife rehabilitation.

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