On August 3 the PAWS blog featured the story of four orphaned Western Gray Squirrels that were brought to the PAWS Wildlife Center for care. Listed as a threatened species, Western Gray Squirrels are very rare, existing in just a few isolated pockets of habitat within Washington State. The four babies that we received were starving, dehydrated and extremely weak when they were admitted, and despite our best efforts we were unable to save two of them. But the remaining two, one male and one female, grew stronger and eventually thrived in our care.
These were the first Western Gray Squirrels with which we have had the privilige of working. As the squirrels grew, it was amazing to see how different they really are from the introduced Eastern Gray Squirrels that are now so common in our state. Among the many differences we saw between the two species, perhaps the most striking was the incredibly long and bushy tail possessed by the Western Grays. It really is quite impressive.
By August 18, the two surviving squirrel kits had grown old enough to be released. On that day, the biologist that had brought the squirrels to us for care returned to the wildlife center to retrieve them. The next morning, he placed them in the very tree cavity in which they had been born. Despite their rough start, these two young squirrels now have the opportunity to live a full, wild life. Best of all, they will have the opportunity to acquire mates and produce more Western Gray Squirrels to make the sight of these beautiful animals a little less rare in our state.