Springtime means flowers and usually more rain showers, but it also means that local shelters and our out-of-state partners will be filling up with kittens, mother cats, puppies and ‘mama’ dogs.
The PAWS Foster Care Program embraces these new arrivals, providing them a safe spot, specialized care and comfort. Our foster families eagerly welcome the tiny kittens who are still too young and too small to be adopted. Many of these feline babies need two to three weeks of care in a foster home before they are ready for adoption. Their short stay allows foster families to help quite a few kittens throughout the spring and summer. Last year, dozens of kind-hearted families helped over 1,200 kittens!
Despite this amazing life-saving effort, we still find ourselves in critical need of foster homes to take in a mother cat or dog who is still with her babies. In the early part of spring, we get numerous mama cats with tiny babies who are too small to be separated from the nurturing care of their mother. Foster homes help these four-legged families for four to eight weeks, depending on the age of the kittens or puppies. This differs from the typical week or two stay in foster because younger kittens and puppies need to stay with their mothers until they are at least 6 weeks old. “It’s an amazing experience seeing the kittens grow, play, and prepare to leave their mother for their own home and family,” shared seasoned foster parent Ashley Morrison.
Having more foster homes to care for entire four-legged families doesn’t apply just to cats. PAWS receives many appeals from eastern Washington and out-of-state partners requesting we take in more and more litters of puppies and mother dogs. We want to say yes to their pleas for help, so PAWS is looking for at least 25 more homes who can help with dogs and young puppies.
You might be thinking, wow, I don’t have the space for a whole litter of puppies and an adult dog. Don’t worry! Our foster care team will match you up with the right size and quantity of canines who need a temporary “bed and breakfast” to call home. And if you have plenty of room in your home and heart, you might be the hero to help with our greatest need, fostering larger breed dogs.
During the spring and summer, the PAWS Foster Care program manages over 200 animals in foster care. These amazing foster’s apartments, condos and homes serve as a vital component in our ability to save more lives. The arrival of Spring means now is the time we need you to join us in this fun, furry, and life-saving work! Find out information of becoming a foster parent here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. . Springtime will never be the same for you again!
Frogs, bears, kittens, and owls. Hummingbirds, otters, raccoons, and dogs. What better way to celebrate Earth Day than by celebrating all of the furried, feathered, finned and scaled animals we share this world with?
At PAWS, we are people helping animals. In order to truly help animals, we also need to love and help the earth. In celebration of Earth Day 2017, some fourth grade students in the PAWS Kids Who Care education program would like to share some ways we can all make this world a better place for animals, people, and the environment.
April 17 is National Bat Appreciation Day so here at PAWS we are celebrating all things bats.
Bats are in the Chiroptera family which includes about 1,240 species around the world; 40 of which are found in North America. The Pacific Northwest is home to 14 species, of which the Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) is the most common (below). Bat species feed on a variety of things from nectar to insects to mammalian blood. All the species living in Washington are insectivores meaning they feed only on insects.
Because bats are active at night, insectivorous bats eat predominately mosquitoes, nocturnal beetles and moths. They are considered extremely important for pest control. A single bat for example can consume up to 2,000 mosquitoes in one night.
Some species of bats are pollinators much like bees and hummingbirds. In fact, they are very important pollinators in tropical and desert climates for plants whose flowers open at night. Bats feed on the insects living in the flowers as well as the nectar, and over 300 species of fruit depend on bats as pollinators including mangoes, bananas and guava.
PAWS Wildlife Center is no stranger to bats. On average, we receive about 50 bats a year; some of them are babies who fell from their nursery colony, some are brought in for rabies testing if there is a chance of human contact, and others are sick or injured and need care.
Bats roost in rock crevices, tree hollows, mines, caves and a variety of anthropogenic, or human, structures. In our area, they do not roost in large colonies like they do in the eastern North America where there can be thousands of bats in a single cave.
Bats in eastern North America are seeing large population declines because of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) which is a devastating disease caused by a fungus that grows on the wings and muzzles of hibernating bats causing them to come out of hibernation early. The disease was first seen in New York in 2006 and has since spread to 30 states and 5 Canadian providences killing an estimated 6 million bats.
In 2016 Washington joined the list of states affected with WNS when a Little Brown Bat (below) was brought to PAWS Wildlife Center and died in care. It was confirmed that he did indeed have WNS. Since then the state and federal agencies along with wildlife rehabilitation centers in the area are being very vigilent, monitoring bats that come in for care as well as bats in the wild to document any more cases. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking anyone who comes across a sick or dead bat or find a group of bats to report it to them. Information about that can be found here.
If you want to attract these critters to your yard, there is a simple way to do so; by building them a bat box. Since bats are nocturnal they need a safe place to roost during the day. With deforestation and the spread of urban areas, they are losing their habitat so it is more important then ever to provide safe roosting structures. You can purchase a premade bat box from several places online or you can build your own. Here at PAWS Wildlife Center we will be building and installing our very own bat box in the new PAWS wildlife garden space. The best time to hang them is in mid April when bats are starting to come out of hibernation and looking for new roosting areas and places to raise their young.
For bat house building resources and ideas be sure to check these sites out:
Last month we talked about the importance of native plant gardens, how they benefit wildlife and some gardening tips. Now, we are taking some of our own advice and creating a native species garden learning experience here at PAWS Wildlife Center.
Our property is home to many wildlife species. Some of which are here throughout the year such as Spotted Towhees, House Finches and Pacific Wrens (Above left, center, right respectively) and others arrive in the spring to raise their families like Dark-eyed Juncos, American Robins, and Black-capped Chickadees (Below left, center, right respectively). Many bird species have already returned this spring and are staking claims on territories and searching for mates. This may be very similar to what happens in your backyard habitat every year and a few enhancements can provide natural food sources and shelter for safety.
At PAWS Wildlife Center we are sprucing up our entrance to not only include a demo native species garden but also artificial homes for birds, bats and bees and examples of humane ways to keep wildlife out of your vegetable garden and what natural animal deterrents really work. We are currently in the beginning stages and have drawn up our official layout, have constructed a raised garden box and have installed our very own catio (below).
We can’t stress it enough that anyone can include features in their yard to support native wildlife and promote living with our wild neighbors humanely, even in small spaces. We hope this will inspire others to enhance their backyard habitat for their wild neighbors as well.
If you are still looking for references to help you get ideas for your backyard habitat here some we recommend:
Local gardening organization:
Tilth Alliance – great resources on many gardening topics and classes, kids section