By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

During the first week of May, with the help of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Karelian bear dog team and black bear biologists, we said goodbye to our nine American Black Bears who wintered over at PAWS Wildlife Center.

You may remember that we received nine bear cubs between August and January. All were from different areas in Washington but all were in the same predicament—orphaned and too young to survive on their own.

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It has been several years since we have had this many black bear cubs at one time at PAWS, and our rehabilitation staff worked hard all winter long, spending hours each day cleaning, feeding and preparing enrichment items for them.

As for the bears, they spent a lot of their winter sleeping together in a big black tub, play fighting, searching their enclosures for food and lounging on hammocks specially made by the Boy Scouts.

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On the morning of May 2, WDFW bear biologists and several of the Karelian Bear Dog officers arrived at PAWS to help us anesthetize the first group of bears for their pre-release exams, to take measurements, and to place them in the culvert traps they would be released from high up in the Cascades. Five bears were to be released on May 3 and the remaining four on May 4.

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On the morning of May 3, PAWS joined a caravan of four WDFW trucks to take the first five bears to their release site. We were also joined by three additional officers and their Karelian bear dogs.

In Washington, black bear releases are conducted using Karelian Bear Dogs who are specially trained to work with bears. They scare and chase the bears as they leave the trap. This is one more reminder that humans are bad and that they should stay away.

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These releases are also a useful training tool for newcomers to the Karelian bear dog team like Jax, who is just over a year old. Jax is normally stationed near Spokane but made the trip to western Washington with his officer to not only watch the adult dogs work but to join them. The May 4 release was the first release during which Jax was let off of his leash and able to run with the seasoned bear dogs. It was a special day for Officer Keith Kirsch, who has had Jax and has been training him since he was only a few months old.

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The bears were released one culvert trap at a time, and within 10 minutes they had all disappeared into the wilderness. Our job for the day, however, was not quite complete. We returned to PAWS to conduct pre-release exams on the remaining four bears and get them settled into culvert traps for their release the following morning.

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By 11 a.m. on May 4, all nine bears were back in the wild to once again be functioning members of the Washington black bear population.

This video was taken during the bear release. In it, you can hear the Karelian Bear Dogs in the background. If you can't see it here, you can watch it on YouTube.

 

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Kate Marcussen, Community Outreach Educator

Summer is almost upon us. We’re eagerly awaiting the warm sun beaming down on our skin, the breeze blowing through our hair, and the smells of summer. You know who else is eagerly awaiting this? Your cat.

Catio cats lounging sun

Our feline friends appreciate the great outdoors almost as much as we do. But for these furry friends, the outdoors can bring more danger than pleasure. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is only two to three years, whereas indoor-only cats can live 15 to 20 years. Outdoor cats face dangers that include traffic, poison, disease, and run-ins with other animals. High veterinary bills for treatment can also cause stress on households.

Keeping our cats inside not only provides them with a long, healthy and happy life, but it also helps our wildlife. Cats pose a major threat to wildlife as these super-predators, well fed, rested and cared for, can be responsible for countless injuries and deaths of birds and small mammals. Our wildlife hospital at PAWS receives many patients suffering from cat attack injuries each year.

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Baby birds are one example of wild patients often brought to PAWS as a result of a cat attack.


Catios, or enclosed outdoor patios for cats, can offer a safe solution for cats and wildlife and are ultimately a great way to provide your cat with safe outdoor time. The addition of a catio to your property can provide fresh air, exercise and endless opportunities for your cat to soak up the sun, as well as enjoy birds and wildlife from a safe distance. Catios can come in all shapes and sizes, from simple window boxes, to elaborate free-standing shelters with tunnels leading from the house safely out to the catio.

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Catio tour outdoor enclosure

Interested in seeing a catio in person? Join PAWS for our annual Catio Tour Seattle on Saturday, May 21, from noon to 4 p.m. Eleven catios around the Seattle area will be open to meet some cat-loving homeowners and their lucky felines, and tour their catio up close. Hear firsthand their inspiration for building a catio and their unique approaches to building the right catio for their cat, home and budget. Let the cats do the talking when it comes to showing off their prime feline real estate and all of the pleasures of the outdoors that it provides them.

Catio tour poster graphic

Catio Tour Seattle will feature catios from Bothell to West Seattle. Visit one or all 11 catios. To register for this year’s tour, visit the Catio Tour Seattle website.

By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Pets can be great for children: Not only do they help kids to learn about empathy and compassion, but they teach responsibility as well. Studies have even shown that pets can help children to be healthier by strengthening the immune system.

April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day, which makes it a great time to share some tips to help kids live together happily with dogs and cats.

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PAWS cats Fuji and Gala went to a forever home with a small child.

 

  1. Children under the age of five should never be left alone with a dog or cat. At this young age, they are still learning how to interact properly with pets, and they need your attention and guidance to do so.
  2. Teach your children about cats’ and dogs’ body language. This will help them to understand your dog or cat and avoid accidents or injuries. There are some great pictorial guides available on the internet so kids who are still learning to read can get to know things like the signs of stress or relaxation.
  3. Teach your children to “be gentle with the dog” or “be gentle with the kitty.” That is, no tail-pulling, no chasing or grabbing.
  4. Don’t allow your child to grab a dog’s or cat’s toys away or disturb him while he’s asleep.
  5. Use a baby gate to separate your dog and your young children when your dog is eating. A baby gate can also give your cat a “safe room” if she wants to get away from the kids for a while.
  6. Make sure your cat has plenty of high places where she can observe children without being in their immediate reach.
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PAWS dog Goose went to a forever family with a number of kids.


Our animal behavior lead at PAWS, Rachel Bird, offers this advice on how to get kids involved with caring for their animal companions.

  1. Let them help with feeding your dog or cat. “Feeding animals helps in the ‘bonding’ process,” Rachel says. “Animals really respond to the person giving them food! I like to mix it up at home, and I will rotate between my children to give them all a chance to feed everyone or hand out treats.”
  2. Let children play with cats using a laser pointer or wand toys. This allows the child to be a safe distance from the cat in order to avoid accidental scratches or bites, and both are having fun.
  3. Children benefit from getting involved in obedience classes for dogs. “Usually, kids love to learn how to teach a dog new tricks,” Rachel says, “so it’s just a matter of teaching him how to teach them.”
  4. Older children can take your dog for walks or clean litter boxes. These chores teach children about some of the responsibilities involved in having an animal companion, and will make them better pet guardians when they become adults.

How have you helped your children learn how to care for your dog or cat? Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Find out more about companion animal behavior and welfare in our online resource library.

Thinking of introducing a new companion to your household? See who’s waiting to meet you at PAWS!

Fostering a dog or cat can be a great way to see if you’re ready to introduce a new furry friend to your home. Find out more about our foster care program.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The baby season has officially started at PAWS Wildlife Center. We have already received and released two Anna’s Hummingbird fledglings and we are currently caring for 40 Mallard ducklings, three raccoon kits, a killdeer chick and four hatchling Dark-eyed Juncos, just to name a few.

Killdeer chick
Killdeer chick


Baby season, which typically lasts from March through August, is the busiest time at PAWS. During this time we care for over 3,000 orphaned and injured wild animals, 2,000 of which are babies; our rehabilitator staff doubles, with seasonal rehabbers joining the team; the number of volunteers doubles; we have visiting veterinarian students; and our 12 or so interns will be starting soon.

Baby season kicked off this year on March 16 with the arrival of a five-pound baby black bear. She was kidnapped from her den and although state wildlife officers attempted to reunite her with her mother it was too late; the mother had moved on after being disturbed at her den site.

Baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed
Two baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed at PAWS Wildlife Center


This is the tenth bear in our care and she is secluded from the other nine who are roughly 10 times her size. Currently she is about the size of a toddler, has brown fur and a prominent white blaze on her chest that looks something like a bib.

Despite being on her own, she keeps herself quite busy exploring her enclosure to find treasures the rehabilitation team has hidden for her. These can be anything from stuffed toys hiding in a pine tree to a bowling ball in her “dogloo.” Recently she even had a hula hoop hanging from the ceiling, which she spent time twirling around with her feet and biting. All of these items serve as enrichment to keep her mind stimulated, and even though she doesn’t know it, they also call upon her natural instincts to act like a bear.

American Black Bear playing with enrichment items at PAWS Wildlife Center
A baby American Black Bear plays with enrichment items in her enclosure at PAWS Wildlife Center.


This little bear will be spending more than a year with us. Hopefully she will soon have a companion that is closer in size, but until then the stuffed toys are a good substitute.

 

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Katie Amrhein, Community Outreach Educator

In the middle of a PAWS education program, an 8-year-old boy walked up to me, reached into his pocket, pulled out a $10 bill, and quietly said, “I want to give this to PAWS to help the animals.” This moment, and countless others like it when children are moved to take action to help animals, is the reason I teach. A better world for animals and people starts today, with you and me, and carries into tomorrow, with the next generation of youth.

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Frances Moore Lappé once said, “Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want.” When a child makes a choice that celebrates a better world for animals, they are doing so from a place of empathy and compassion. In order to feel driven to help animals, children first need to learn about, understand, and feel connected to animals through positive relationships and interactions. And so, through games, art, stories, sharing, and problem-solving, I teach.

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I teach children that crows are incredibly intelligent. I teach children how to understand the ways dogs communicate with us through their bodies. I teach children that raccoons have adaptations that help them survive in our ever-changing urban ecosystems. I teach children what it means to be a responsible pet guardian. I teach children that cows have the same basic needs as rabbits.

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I teach children that each and every one of their actions, everything from recycling to talking to their parents about getting a microchip for their cat, has an impact, and they can choose actions that celebrate a better world for animals. I teach children to care, not by forcing it upon them, but by providing space for them to connect to animals and choose to care.

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And so, when an 8-year-old boy walks up to me and says that he wants to donate $10 to help the animals at PAWS, I know that he has learned that animals deserve a better world, and that starts today, with you and me, and carries into tomorrow, with him.

PAWS is people helping animals. The people that will be helping animals tomorrow are the youth of today. And so, I teach.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Spring is breeding season for most wildlife species that live in Washington, and this is not lost on Bald Eagles. The beginning of April is when the first eaglets hatch in Western Washington.

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Adults start competing for territory and building nests during the winter. This is a crucial time for individuals, as they need to be healthy and strong to defend their territory against other eagles. Unfortunately for some, these territory disputes don’t end happily.

Currently we are treating an adult male Bald Eagle at PAWS Wildlife Center who was brought to us in early March. He is suffering from a large soft tissue wound just above his bill that is very deep and thought to have been the result of a territorial dispute he did not win. For several days he was seen on a beach unable to fly very well before being caught and brought to PAWS for medical treatment. He is currently being housed in our large flight pen to build his wing strength back up, undergoing rounds of weekly wound management, and is on antibiotics to ward off infection.

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We are also currently treating a second Bald Eagle who may have been hit by a vehicle, resulting in a broken right wing. He too is going through weekly rounds of wound management and on antibiotics.

As our two eagle patients regain their strength and continue to heal let me introduce you to the Bald Eagle.

Species Info:

  • Large raptor with a heavy body, large head and long hooked bill.
  • Immature Bald Eagles are all brown and their heads and tails are not completely white until they are 4 to 6 years old.

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  • Wingspan is 6.6 feet and weighs 6.5 to 13 pounds.
  • Nests in trees and on cliff sides.
  • Clutch size is one to three eggs.
  • Carnivorous bird eating fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and carrion.
  • Powerful flier, soaring, gliding, and flapping over long distances.
  • Typically solitary but will congregate by the hundreds at communal roosts and feeding sites.

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Cool Facts:

  • Rather than hunting their own fish, Bald Eagles will often harass ospreys until they drop their prey.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest was almost 9 feet in diameter and 18 feet tall.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend their first four years exploring vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day.
  • Bald Eagles are known to play with inanimate objects such as plastic bottles and sticks. One observer watched as six Bald Eagles passed sticks to each other in midair.
  • The oldest recorded Bald Eagle on record was at least 38 years old.

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By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Dylan adopted Will from PAWS a few months ago, but in the short time the two have been together, Will has already made a huge difference in Dylan’s life—and Dylan in his. When we saw that Dylan had written a blog post about his experience with Will, we asked him if he would answer a few questions for us.

What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
One of the first dogs I remember from my childhood was a rescue Rottweiler. I’m also a crybaby for videos online of abused animals and animals that were adopted by someone who wasn't quite ready for the commitment. All things considered, I knew there was a loving animal in need somewhere waiting to meet their new best friend.

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What brought you to PAWS?
PAWS has a reputation that I can stand by. It was the first name that came to mind when discussing where to go find my puppy, and obviously that turned out great!

What was it that most attracted you to Will?
When I met Will at the shelter, his charm just made me want to play with him. My partner and I had a contagious smile the entire time we were visiting with him. He also has this adorable head tilt when he is listening to you.

How was your journey home and settling in together?
Will did a great job in the car! I remember having this feeling that I was having my first parenting experience: All I wanted for Will was for him to feel safe and trust me as his new friend.

How would you describe Will’s personality?
Will is silly, charming and a great cuddler. Between playing and learning new tricks—quickly, might I add—he chases his tail until he gets dizzy and you can see his head spinning when he stops to rest. He has a smile and demeanor about him that makes people on the street smile when he is on walks.

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How has Will changed your life?
As I struggled with depression and some anxiety about job changes, schooling and being in a new city, I did a lot of research about how dogs can be both a great responsibility and an excellent source of therapy. Will makes me smile every day, from first thing in the morning until the end of the night when he curls up in a ball and gives a sigh of accomplishment after his long day. He has given me a sense of routine, purpose and companionship that I didn't have before.

How old was Will when you adopted him? What do you think is the best thing about adopting an adult dog?
Will was just over two years old. The best thing about an adult dog is that I don't have to take him out to do his business every hour and worry about every little thing like I would a puppy, but I do know that I have at least a good 10 years of friendship with Will. For someone who wants to invest time into training and developing a relationship with a dog but can't be on watch 24/7, I think the best thing a person can do is adopt a young adult dog.

What advice do you have for people considering adopting a dog?
It’s important to understand the responsibilities of being a dog guardian. I wanted a dog for years—I grew up with them and knew that dogs were going to continue to be a part of my life. That being said, I’m just now at the point where I’m ready to accept that responsibility. The time and attention a dog needs to feel loved, mentally challenged, and physically exercised is just as important as the financial impact of medication, vet visits, toys, treats, and food.

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Is there anything else you’d like to say?
You can teach an old dog new tricks. Even a dog who was mistreated or who received no socialization or training in his early life can become a really wonderful and well-behaved companion. At first, Will wasn't house trained, he didn't sit on command, and he barked at every single person he saw. Since then, he has learned a dozen tricks, tells me when he needs to go outside, and is getting so much closer to being a little lover to everyone. If you're willing to put in the work for your little friend, he’s willing to give back.

 

Interested in adopting? Visit our Available Pets page to see who's waiting for their forever home.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Spring is in the air, and you know what that means: Birds are passing through the Seattle area or coming back to their summer breeding grounds here. You may have noticed a lot more singing during the wee hours of the morning.

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Black-headed Grosbeak

 
Some spring migrants have already arrived and are establishing territories and building nests, while others are still on their way. Of the 160 or so breeding birds in the Seattle area, about 50 of those are only here during the spring and summer. Some of the songbird species include the Wilson’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lincoln’s Sparrow and Yellow-rumped Warbler, just to name a few. However, there are also migratory shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors in our area as well.

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An Osprey being released after rehabilitation at PAWS Wildlife Center.

 
Migratory species are built to be long-distance fliers, with longer wings and bigger breast muscles than their non-migratory kin. They have a very complex and efficient respiratory system that allows them to fly at high altitudes and for long distances.

Bird species use a combination of navigational skills to move from their wintering grounds to their summer grounds. Although it is still somewhat of a mystery how exactly they do it, we do know that migratory birds use many different senses when they migrate. They use the sun, stars, the Earth’s magnetic field, and landmarks seen during the day to maneuver their way over distances that could be thousands of miles.

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Western Tanager

 
You may be among the lucky ones to see some of these spectacular migrants in your backyard habitat or in nearby parks. If not, there are ways to naturally attract birds and other wildlife so you can enjoy them throughout the spring and summer. You could even go as far as taking steps towards having your backyard certified as a wildlife sanctuary.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

 
We have only received a few spring migrants so far this spring season at PAWS Wildlife Center. Currently we are treating a baby Band-tailed Pigeon. Although you may occasionally see a few Band-tailed Pigeons in our area in the winter, they are still considered spring migrants. They typically start leaving their summer breeding grounds in late August and return as early as the end of February. This is, of course, dependent on weather and food availability.

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This baby Band-tailed Pigeon is one of our first migratory bird patients of the year.

 
We expect to receive more migrant birds and other wildlife patients as baby season and spring start to pick up. If you find a baby bird or baby mammal that appears to be injured or orphaned, follow our simple guides linked above to learn what to do. If in doubt, call the PAWS Wildlife Center at (425) 412-4040 and one of our experts can assist you.

By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Do you want to spend your Friday or Saturday evenings volunteering with animals?

Wait, before you click away, let us tell you a bit about the importance of volunteers—who we rely on seven days a week, 365 days a year—and share with you some stories of PAWS volunteers who take those weekend night shifts.

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Photo by Benjamin Fry

Last year at PAWS, more than 8,200 cats, dogs and wild animals were brought to us in need of help. We couldn’t have assisted these animals in finding homes or returning to the wild without the help of our volunteers.

More than 800 volunteers contributed a staggering 63,176 hours (the equivalent of 7.2 years!) to helping us in 2015.

You might be surprised to know that even with all this volunteer support, we still need more. This is particularly true for our weekend shifts. While walking dogs and tending to wildlife might not seem like the perfect way to start the weekend, Tom, who has been serving as a Friday-night dog walker for a year now, would like to tell you otherwise.

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“I really do enjoy the shift and find it a convenient, satisfying way to cap off the traditional work week,” Tom says. “I like to think of the Friday shift as ‘PAWS Happy Hour’ since not only does it coincide with human Happy Hour, it's busy and fun and the doggies are very happy to have their dinner and go for an evening stroll in the woods.”

If you’d like to spend your happy hour with our companion animals  we desperately need more Friday night dog walkers, and also kennel attendants, who deal with every aspect of a dog’s life at PAWS. Which is one of the really rewarding aspects of volunteering out of hours. It’s just you and them, and you’re making a very real impact on a dog’s life. That can be a special experience.

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Helping dogs on the night shift still leaves plenty of time to connect with friends and family. Most volunteers at our shelter leave by 6 or 7 p.m. “That’s still pretty early in the scheme of a weekend,” Tom says, “so people have plenty of time to head out for a movie or dinner.”

If you’re more interested in taking a weekend walk on the wild side, we are always looking for more volunteer wildlife care assistants to fill Friday and Saturday night shifts during our busy season (6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., April through September). Crucial to maintaining continuity of care for our patients, wildlife care assistants get involved with feeding and final checks on patients.

Randi has been volunteering with PAWS for more than 12 years and always takes an evening shift at our wildlife center in the summer. “I like the late shift because there’s a smaller team and you get to interact more closely with your shift mates and the rehabbers,” she says, adding that even though there’s a lot to do, it’s a great shift because time moves quickly when you’re busy and enjoying your fellow volunteers’ company.

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Jennifer, another volunteer at our wildlife center, says that the evening shift allows her to fit her volunteer interests into her regular work schedule. “For me the volunteer tasks are a welcome break from my regular desk job and I am given the opportunity to learn and experience things I would not in my day to day life,” she says. “There is a good energy to the evening shift despite how busy it often is, the feel is very laid back; you are winding the shelter down for the night and preparing for the next morning.”

Why not join “PAWS Happy Hour” and volunteer with us on a Friday or Saturday night? By the time you are finished with your shift, there will still be plenty of time to enjoy a night out with friends or spend a relaxing evening at home. And, as Tom says, “It sends you off into the weekend feeling good.”

Are you interested in volunteering with PAWS? Learn how to get started.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The Puget Sound region is home to a wide array of wildlife species, many of whom make their homes in the forests and single trees in our region. Trees and forests provide critical habitat, cover and nesting sites to many wild species including cavity nesting owls, woodpeckers, native squirrels and bats; not to mention the multitude of birds whose amazing nests grace thick limbs and tiny branches alike.

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An Anna's Hummingbird sits in a nest


February through September are the most active nesting months for Washington wildlife, trees will be teeming with life. Please be aware that pruning or cutting down trees during this time can and does displace, harm, and even kill a variety of wildlife species. PAWS Wildlife Center receives hundreds of baby wild animals each year, many of which are displaced when their nest tree was cut down or their nest site was destroyed.

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Black-capped Chickadees nesting


Before cutting down any tree, whether it is alive or dead, please consider taking the following steps to prevent unnecessary loss of life or habitat:

  • Plan tree-cutting projects from November through January, which is well after nesting season.
  • Inspect the tree for active nests before beginning work on the tree.
  • Consider cutting just the bare minimum of branches, leaving the nest section alone.
  • Standing dead trees (snags) are great wildlife habitats, often housing several different species. Please consider leaving snags standing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages the public to save their snags as wildlife habitat. You can even purchase a sign from them to display on your snag to help educate your community.
  • If the tree does not present a hazard, the best course of action may be to leave it alone, as all trees provide some form of habitat for wild creatures.
  • Many wildlife species are federally protected and the law prohibits destroying and/or disturbing their nests.
  • If a nest-bearing tree absolutely must be cut down, first call PAWS at 425.412.4040 to find out what steps to take.
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A Northern Flicker feeds her young


The staff at PAWS Wildlife Center would like to thank you for helping to preserve our wildlife and their habitats. Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions.

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A Bushtit builds a nest