Friday morning we received a phone call from Chanele Holbrook, director of the Heernett Environmental Foundation in Tenino, WA. Chanele had spotted a female Black-tailed Deer with a green ear tag on the Heernett property. The number on the tag was 110, corresponding to a deer PAWS released on the 850-acre Heernett site in November 2007. Just hearing that the doe was still alive and well was great news, but the best news of all was that she was not alone. A fawn was following closely on her heels as the deer climbed a hill and disappeared into the forest.
The goal of the rehabilitation efforts we undertake at the PAWS Wildlife Center is to release healthy, physically and behaviorally intact wild animals who will completely reintegrate with their natural community. We do our best to keep the animals in our care completely wild, and we have radio-tracked a variety of different animals after their release in order to help us determine whether or not this reintegration is occurring. Some of the animals we release are fitted with ear tags or other identifying markers. While reported sightings of these tagged animals are extremely rare, they sometimes provide us with excellent news like that reported by Chanele.
So a Black-tailed Deer who came to PAWS as an orphaned fawn is now back in the wild caring for fawns of her own. I can think of no better indicator that her rehabilitation at PAWS was a success.
Photo courtesy Chanele Holbrook-Shaw, Heernett Environmental Foundation