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After a Long Winter, Three Raccoons Go Free



The PAWS Wildlife Center raises dozens of orphaned Raccoon kits every summer. Most of these babies have lost their mothers to cars or other human-related causes, and most are ready for release by late summer or early fall. Every year, however, we receive a few late summer babies who are not ready for release before cold winter weather sets in. These kits spend the winter with us, growing and playing with one another, while awaiting their release in the spring.

For three Raccoon kits who were with us this winter, their long-awaited day of freedom came on April 25. As evening fell, the Raccoons' transport carriers were opened next to a creek in a beautiful King County Natural Area. The following photos will give you a glimpse of their initial exploration as they made their transition back to the wild.

Release day is exciting, but it's also a bit overwhelming for the young Raccoons. They often spend time assessing their surroundings from inside or on top of their transport carriers.


The sound of the stream flowing nearby seemed to have a hypnotic effect on the Raccoons. They spent much time just looking and listenting in the direction of the water.


Eventually curiosity got the best of them and they began to investigate their surroundings. Some of them even stopped to smell the flowers.


Two of the Raccoons headed off into the forest. One stayed behind to climb a mossy tree on the bank of the stream.


The moss was loose, and climbing the tree proved challenging. The Raccoon slid back down a little ways and attempted to relocate to a thinner trunk nearby.


It took him a few tries, but the Raccoon eventually made it over to the other trunk. We watched as he climbed around on his new perch, but he was a little nervous with our presence. He periodically stopped and looked our way.


We decided to depart and let the Raccoons continue their exploration without our influence. We wished them well and left them to enjoy their newly restored freedom.



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