By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

As an organization who rehabilitates bears, we couldn't let Bear Awareness Week in Washington go by without sharing some top tips and fascinating facts to help you be more bear aware this summer. 

There are two species of bears in Washington - Grizzly and Black Bears. Grizzlies in western Washington spend all of their time high up in the cascades and are hardly seen. And, although Black Bears tend to avoid contact with humans, they have adapted to living in closer proximity to us due to habitat loss and the expansion of human populations into their habitat.


Grizzly Bears are federally listed as threatened and state listed as endangered. There is estimated to be less than one hundred Grizzly Bears in Washington; half live in the North Cascades and the other half in the Selkirk Ecosystem on the Washington Idaho border. Grizzly bears have almost been hunted to extinction in the lower 48 states and have lost 98% of their original habitat.

Black Bears, on the other hand, are the most common and widely distributed bear in North America. It's estimated there are as many as 25,000 in Washington. Black Bears are classified as a game species in Washington and there is an annual hunting season.

If you spend a lot of time outside this summer in bear country keep these things in mind:

  • Do not hike alone 
  • Make noise on the trail 
  • Carry bear spray and have it accessible 
  • Never run from a bear

Although Black Bears are numerous in Washington and Oregon, sometimes injured individuals and orphans need our help.


Since 1986 PAWS has successfully rehabilitated and released 78 Black Bears back to the mountains of Washington and Oregon. We recently released five cubs, a few of which we'd been caring for since last spring.

As you can imagine, rehabilitating bears is no small task and we've developed some very strict guidelines for the staff who care for them. Bears must have their enclosures cleaned daily and they must be isolated as much as possible from humans.

To make sure the bears do not become habituated to humans, we've developed a special system to move our patients from one enclosure to another so they can be cleaned and fed without contact. It takes several hours each day to complete these tasks.


You may ask "How do you feed bears?". Well, it’s definitely not as simple as feeding a dog or cat! Staff actually have to think like a bear and hide the food in their enclosures, encouraging them to use their senses to search for food as they would in the wild. We even put fish in small pools where the bears have to actually search and “fish” them out (see video below).

We typically receive orphaned cubs here at PAWS, which can spend anywhere from six months to a year in our care. This requires a lot of investment in food! Growing bear cubs can consume over 30 lbs of food a week and PAWS can house up to seven at one time. That's over 200 lbs of food a week for several months!

All of this hard work leads up to the eventual release of the bears back to their natural habitat, far up in the mountains away from humans. We have help from state agencies in both Washington and Oregon to find suitable release sites for the bears - sites where they'll have the best chance at a fresh start in the wild. 

Want to be even more bear aware? Visit Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Western Wildlife Outreach.

Inspired by our work with bears? 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 Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

There’s a lot of dirty work involved in being a cat volunteer at PAWS. From cleaning litter trays and mopping floors, to dishing out cat food and tackling piles of laundry, it takes dedication, patience and—at times—a strong nose!

But talk to any of our dedicated team and it’s more than worth it. Because they get to enjoy the fun stuff too – think cuddles, muffin making, wand toy playing, and purring.

Our adorable adoptables’ way of saying thank you.

In celebration of June's Adopt-a-Cat Month, we asked our volunteers to take a selfie with their favorite adoptable kitty – the ones who have captured their hearts, who they find it hard to tear themselves away from after their shift has ended, and who will stay in their minds long after they’ve found their perfect forever home.

For many, choosing just one cat was a challenge in itself! Here are some of our favorites:


Amanda & Ophelia (above left): It's hard to resist sweet, outgoing Ophelia when she gives you her signature adorable head tilt, along with a little chirp to say "pet me!"

Dawn & Kate Bosworth (above right): Love this girl. Yes, she can be a little sassy, but she does have that cute cuddling face. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THOSE CHEEKS!


Hillary & Poette (above left): This gorgeous girl has become pretty outgoing. When you look into her eyes your heart will melt! She's more than just your average black cat. Come visit Poette today and you'll see what I mean!

Les & Peanut (above center): Who loves ya, Peanut? Who doesn't!

Tammie & Fiona (above right): Fiona is a stunning girl with a mind of her own and desire to be an only kitty. She has a playful, attentive independence and infinite spunk!

And—if these glowing reports weren't enough to convince you to adopt right this second—their adoption fees are waived on weekdays in June, thanks to Road to Puppy Bowl funded by Animal Planet and the ASPCA.

Inspired to meet these fabulous felines? Find out more about them here, and start your adoption journey today.

Can’t have a kitty but would like some fur time once in a while?
Sign up to be a volunteer here.
If these kitties in need have touched your heart,
please consider giving to PAWS today.

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

At PAWS Wildlife Center we understand how important collaborating with outside organizations is to having a successful wildlife rehabilitation program.

We often work with other wildlife rehabilitation centers in our area, transferring young animals so they can grow up with conspecifics (members of the same species). This is essential to growing babies as it greatly reduces the likelihood of them becoming used to human contact. They also learn the skills they'll need to survive in the wild from each other.

So far in 2015 we’ve transferred out a young coyote to grow up with eight adopted siblings at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center and a river otter pup. We’ve transferred in a young barn owlet (pictured below) and a Hooded Merganser duckling to grow up with the ones we’re currently housing.


When releasing wildlife we reach outside of the rehabilitation world, and work very closely with state and county agencies—as well as nonprofit organizations—to find suitable release sites for our patients.

It’s important that our patients go back to the exact location they came from; but sometimes this isn’t possible. For these cases we rely on other organizations to assist us in finding areas that not only have suitable habitat but are also, for some species, a place away from high human activity.


King County Parks has been very helpful in helping us release Raccoons, Black Tailed Deer, River Otters and even Hummingbirds on their park lands. 

The Falcon Research Group has helped us return Peregrine Falcons back to their nests and reunite Cooper’s Hawks with their siblings in the wild.

We collaborate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for releasing marine mammals rehabilitated at PAWS.

When it comes to Black Bear releases, we seek assistance from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and their Karelian Bear Dog Program.

Karelian Bear Dogs are trained from a young age to seek out cougars and bears, assist wildlife officers and biologists with tracking and releasing wildlife, and detect evidence used in criminal cases. 

Bear releases are our biggest of the year, and we sometimes release as many as five in one day – quite the operation! Taken high up in the mountains, away from people near their point of origin, the presence of these impressive dogs (pictured above) helps ensure that the bears are less likely to cause conflicts and more likely to stay away from humans after their return to the wild. 

It can often to take a village to save the lives of our wild neighbors. Thanks to this supportive network of organizations working closely together, wildlife here in the Pacific Northwest can continue to thrive. 

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may remember, back in early October of 2014, PAWS Wildlife Center received a patient we'd never treated before – a Steller Sea Lion pup, estimated to be only four months old. Today we look back at his rehabilitation and share the happy ending that saw him return to Washington waters this spring.

Found alone on a beach in southwest Washington, the pup was brought to PAWS by a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) marine mammal biologist for treatment.

Below is one of the pictures we took of him just after he arrived. He was very thin, weak, anemic, had multiple lacerations, and only weighed 68 lbs. A healthy Steller Sea Lion at that age should weigh at least twice that much.


Examined on intake by our veterinarian team, and given fluids and a specialized formula, PAWS staff worked diligently over the next few days to stabilize the pup and get him on solid food. With every feeding he regained his strength and, after a week, he was happily eating fish and had gained over 15 lbs.

Adult male Stellers can weigh up to 2,500 lbs so, even in the short amount of time he would spend with us, we knew this patient was going to grow quite a bit! With this in mind, he was moved to a larger enclosure with a more suitable pool for swimming: 

Can't see the video embedded above? Try watching it on our Vimeo channel instead.

Steller Sea Lions are very social and interact with other pinnipeds (a carnivorous aquatic mammal of the order Pinnipedia, such as the Harbor Seal) in the wild. Since our sea lion patient was so young, it was extremely important that he be exposed to other sea lions. Given it was unlikely we'd get another one during that time of year, it was decided he'd be transferred to a facility where he could be housed with others like him until his release back in Washington.

On November 14 he was flown—as part of a U.S. Coast Guard training mission—to California to continue his long term rehabilitation at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC). 

In his four months there—housed in a large pool (pictured below) where he could socialize with California Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals—he gained over 150 lbs, and developed skills he'd need to survive on his own in the wild (Stellers at this age would still be learning these skills from their mom).

SSL-at-TMMC-in-poolPhoto reproduced courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center

On April 17, the eight-month-old, 300 lb male Steller sea lion pup was transported back to Washington by WDFW – and PAWS was along for the ride. During his transport the Steller rested peacefully in his transport crate, intermittently watching the world go by through the small slats (see below). Though he made sure to announce his presence every time the team stopped for gas or food along the way!


He was released near where he was rescued on the Southwest coast. Before his release he was affixed with a GPS transmitter that will allow biologists to track his movements and see how he is does in the future.

Currently he’s off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. You can track his movements too using this link.


Although Steller Sea Lions are no longer federally listed in the Pacific Northwest, they are still a very important part of the marine ecosystem and are still threatened by habitat degradation, ship strikes and over fishing.


We were thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort between NOAA, WDFW, Seattle Aquarium, TMMC and the U.S. Coast Guard – rehabilitating and returning this Steller Sea Lion back to Washington waters where he belongs.

Found a marine mammal you think needs help? Find out what to do.

Help us continue providing care to wild animals in need. Donate here.

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

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may wonder what all the chatter is about every morning outside your windows. Well it’s officially breeding season for birds in Washington, and adults have been busily building nests, protecting territories, and trying to attract mates for weeks.

With the onset of the breeding season comes the opening of the baby bird nursery (pictured below) at PAWS Wildlife Center. Last year alone we successfully raised and released over 160 baby songbirds encompassing 20 different species. So far this year, we already have more than 30 chirping, hungry babies to care for.


The care and survival of these babies is placed in the hands of our wonderful volunteers, who work diligently from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day feeding and cleaning. It's quite a task to keep up with, as different age groups and species of birds require different levels of care.

Some of our patients need to be fed every 15 minutes, others every two hours. Some bird diets consist of seeds while others (like that of the Red-winged Blackbird chick pictured below) consist of insects.


There's a delicate balance between the type of food, the amount of food, and time in between feedings that has to be managed for each baby bird. And all of these factors play a crucial role in the growth and development of each bird.

Another important factor in raising wild baby birds is the environment they're raised in. Our babies are often paired with conspecifics (others of the same species) or with other species that are similar in their dietary needs.


Their enclosures are full of native vegetation (see an example above, with Stellers Jay babies) which allows them to learn natural perching and hiding behaviors. In the background, instead of hearing human voices, they hear Northwestern songbird calls recorded by one of our very own volunteers.

With the right amount of food, time and care—combined with the proper environment—our once small, fragile hatchlings grow into strong sub adult birds that are then released back to the wild near where their parents originally set up house.

Want to join our team of Bird Nursery Caretakers? All the info you need is here. 

Found a baby bird in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

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

By Sean Twohy, PAWS Wildlife Center Volunteer

When I signed up to be a volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center, I had no expectation that I would ever actually see animals. I assumed that volunteers were there to wash dishes and do laundry.

My first day as a volunteer, I peered through the window of an operating room and watched as the staff brushed out the fur of a small woolly bear cub.

The next shift, I held a crow as it was given daily meds, felt a gust of wind from the wings of a Bald Eagle, and scrubbed the shell of a Western Pond Turtle.

Last week, I fed baby squirrels (see picture below). Soon, a flood of other baby animals will arrive and I'll be given new training and new experiences.


Hands-on Experience & A Shared Goal
PAWS makes it very clear that the number one priority is successfully rehabilitating and releasing wild animals—nothing is more important to each member of the staff. What I quickly realized was that volunteers are seen an integral part of that process.

Volunteers are treated as future co-workers and, wherever possible, staff members take the time to involve them in the process of rehabilitating.

From feeding and cleaning animals, to medicating and providing enrichment activities, the staff works to shape each volunteer into knowledgeable members of the team.

Helping You Help the Environment
Along with receiving amazing amounts of hands-on training, volunteers are encouraged to use their time at PAWS to facilitate goals and guide their passions. Internships are available for a wide variety of objectives and the staff is eager to see every volunteer achieve their goals.


Volunteering at PAWS is a chance to gain real experience while doing something important for wildlife. From the beginning, PAWS has stepped up to provide me with means to reach my goals.

Pictured, right (images by students at The Arts Institute of Seattle): whether it's through DIY, dog cuddling, laundry or lost and found support, volunteers contribute so much to PAWS! 

From working with wildlife to writing, they have given me—and created for me—opportunities to grow, both as a professional and as a member of the community.

I have only been here a little over three months, and can already see my strengths being leveraged and nourished. While the immediate gratification of working with wildlife and helping the environment is amazing, I am even more humbled by PAWS’ larger commitment to the future of its staff and volunteers.

Thanks for this great insight into volunteering at PAWS, Sean! If—after reading this—you're inspired to get involved, follow the links below for more details or email

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

We here at PAWS are the recipients of many stories that touch our hearts and motivate us to keep up the good fight for the health and welfare of all the animals in our care. We feel so lucky to have an open dialogue with every member of our PAWS community and thank everyone who shares with us.

Every once and a while, however, we receive a story in our email inboxes that makes even those who work in this field every day stop and dab away the tears.

This is one of those stories. Last week, we received this email from Seth who told us the story about his friend. We see no reason to edit or polish his email, instead we’re going to deliver it to you just as we received it. Our only caveat before you start reading, you might want to have your tissues handy.

Hi there, I adopted a puppy from your Lynnwood, WA location on March 2, 2001. His name was Damon but I changed it to Kobi. He was 7 weeks old when I brought him home. He was one of 11 litter mates that were surrendered with their mother from Snohomish County.

I tried to give him the most adventurous, and love filled life I could.

Yesterday at approximately 2:30 I said goodbye to my best friend of almost 15 years. It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever had to do but I believe it was time…as much as it hurts.

I just wanted to let you all know. He had a fantastic life of camping, rock climbing, running, chasing and catching Frisbees and playing at the beach.

There is definitely a hole in my heart now. His hips were just too painful for him anymore. He had fallen a few times recently and on the hardwood floor was unable to get up on his own. He laid there a few times in his own urine barking a very sad “somebody come help me” bark until we got homKobo7e to help him. He was a sweet, sweet boy and I will miss him every day of my life.

Here are a few photos.

This was watching his last sunset the night before we said goodbye.

This was his last bike ride...yes that is a pizza box on top of him. He got rib eye, ice cream and pizza a few times during his last week and had pizza just before he took his last breath.

My sweet kobi-doobie-doo.Kobo6

His last day at the beach. We got him this trailer last year due to him being unable to walk more than 100 yards or so but still wanting him to be able to get out and see the world.

Just an hour or so before I said goodbye to my best bud. I couldn’t have asked for a better pal.

Thank you for all that you do. Those precious animals deserve it.

Thank YOU Seth. From all of us at Kobo4PAWS, we grieve with you, and are guided now by our gratefulness for the loving life you showed Kobi.

We'll post a few more of Seth's pictures of Kobi to our social media this week. 

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

It’s standard practice that new arrivals at PAWS are given a quick wash and brush up before they settle into the cat colony or dog kennel that will be a temporary home until their new forever family comes calling.

In the case of one recent kitty, that quick wash and brush up was more of a top-to-toe makeover.

Longfellow 25225414 & adopter Phoebe ROF

Longfellow came to us from Everett Animal Shelter. He was found as a stray, so we don’t really know much about his life – but he was so affectionate it was clear he’d been somebody’s cherished pet for most of his life.

The good news was he’d been neutered – something we’re strong advocates for here at PAWS, particularly in the case of cats who have access to the outdoor life.

The not so good news was that his time as a stray had obviously taken its toll on his good looks. Estimated to be around six years old, Longfellow was suffering with tapeworms, dandruff and had large mats in his beautifully golden fur. 

In spite of his friendliness and—as we discovered—his love of riding on shoulders, without a makeover Longfellow was definitely lacking that “take me home today” appeal.

And that’s where awesome volunteer Rose Silcox stepped in.

The trained and certified cat groomer behind, Rose originally joined PAWS as a volunteer at Cat City, and is now “on-call” whenever we have a kitty who really needs a groomer.

Longfellow definitely fitted into that category, and so she set to work!

During his initial veterinary examination—a standard exam for all incoming cats and dogs here at PAWS—our vet clipped some of the mats out. Until, that is, Longfellow became too wiggly to clip anymore!

Longfellow shaved

Rose took it from there and gave him what’s called a “lion cut”.

His body was shaved down to fuzz but the fur was left on his head, lower legs and the tip of his tail (see picture opposite, post-shave).

Some of the mats were so close to Longfellow’s skin, you could see irritation marks underneath where they’d been. We can only imagine it must have hurt to be pet in these places.

After a warm bath, Longfellow was ready to settle into his cat colony and start the search for a new forever family. 

While he dried off, we made sure he was kept warm by temporarily using a kitty sweater – quite the fashion statement (though, from the look on his face in the picture below, we're not sure Longfellow felt the same)!

Longfellow in sweater 2

Needless to say, with his fresh new look, velvety fur, and affectionate nature it wasn’t long before Longfellow’s happy ending arrived in the shape of adopter Phoebe (pictured at top of story)

This kind of grooming can easily cost $70-$90 in a grooming parlor, an expense that can be a barrier to adoption for many. Thanks to the kindness of Rose, restoring Longfellow to his former beauty while in our care, he found his perfect match in no time.

And, given how much he craves human contact, Phoebe should have no problem maintaining his freshly-shaved coat as it grows back!

Do you have a skill/service you think might help cats, dogs or wildlife in our care? We’d love to hear from you! Email us.

Looking for your perfect match? See who's waiting at PAWS.

Make a donation and help us continue creating happy endings for companion animals in need.


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

When you come across a wild animal you believe to be injured or orphaned, it’s only natural to want to try and help.

At this time of year, the telephones at PAWS Wildlife Center are starting to ring more frequently with calls from concerned and compassionate members of the public, looking for advice on helping a wild animal they’ve found.

From a Dark-eyed Junco baby found under a Range Rover at a car dealership, to an opossum mom and babies attacked by a dog, we deal with many different situations every day of the week. It’s safe to say there’s never a dull moment on the front lines of wildlife rehabilitation here at PAWS!

We also get a lot of general questions about wild animal behavior, and requests for information about how people can live more harmoniously with their wild neighbors. Here are just a few of the most frequently-asked questions during springtime:

Why is a Robin attacking my window?
This is very common in the spring during nesting season. Robins (pictured below) are very territorial, and when the bird sees his reflection in the window he thinks it’s another Robin competing for his space!

They don’t typically injure themselves during this behavior, so just hang in there. The behavior should end once the chicks have fledged.


Help! I found a wild baby abandoned on the ground/out of its nest. What should I do?
“Abandoned isn't a term we typically use when referring to wildlife babies. This is because wildlife parents do not usually desert their offspring but will leave them alone while they search for food.” comments Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist.

It’s important to understand that not all baby wild animals found alone—with no mom or dad in sight—are orphaned, injured, or in need of help. It's completely natural for wildlife parents to leave their babies alone for several hours at a time while they search for food.

As you can imagine, it's pretty tough raising wildlife babies – especially for those species that have more than one offspring at a time (the Mallard Duck family pictured below is just one example). They have high nutrient requirements in order to grow up strong and healthy in a short amount a time. 


Instead of taking their young with them while they forage, parents generally leave them hidden in a centralized location where they'll be safe.

It's always best to keep wild families together and let the natural parents raise their young. They know exactly what their babies need to survive and how to protect them.

PAWS’ website has flow charts that can help you determine whether a baby mammal or baby bird needs to be rescued or not. If you’re still unsure and would like advice from our experts at PAWS Wildlife Center, please call us on 425.412.4040 before approaching the animal or taking any action.


I’m being dive-bombed by crows. What’s that about?
This is common in spring and summer during nesting season. The birds are upset because they have young they’re trying to protect (see picture above). The good news is this situation is temporary and will stop when the young have fledged.

If you have to go outdoors, try wearing a hat, using an umbrella or modifying your behavior by using a different exit/entrance. In some cases, crows will eventually realize that you’re not a threat and discontinue the dive-bombing.

If you have a burning question about the behavior of wildlife in your neighborhood, email us for guidance and we may just include the details in a future blog like this one!

Interested in learning more about peacefully coexisting with your wild neighbors? Join us for our free Wildlife-Friendly Homes & Yards event at Shoreline Library on Wednesday, April 22.

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

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

At PAWS Wildlife Center we receive hundreds of birds each year, but you may not know that one of the biggest dangers they face is plate glass windows. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that windows in homes and offices kill as many as one billion birds each year. This year PAWS has already received 30 birds who were victims of window strikes, and we continue to receive more every week.

There are many reasons birds fly into windows. Raptors such as Peregrine Falcons or Cooper’s Hawks, who forage on birds, may accidentally fly into a window when perusing prey. Other birds see the reflection of the sky in the glass and mistake it for a clear path.


Window strikes can happen day or night and cause a variety of injuries. Some birds become stunned for a short period of time and fly away, only to succumb to internal injuries later. Others may have broken bones making them more vulnerable to predators.

A male Red Crossbill (pictured right) was recently brought to PAWS after he struck a window.

You may think by just looking at him that something is wrong with his bill. But this is how his bill grows naturally and is not the result of any injuries. 

Crossbills are seed specialists and their unique bill type allows them to manipulate cones and retrieve seeds easily.

Our Crossbill patient was found on the ground, unresponsive; he had a bruised chest and was very weak. After just two days of supportive care, sadly he succumb to his injuries. 

However, not all impacts are fatal and with the proper care some birds do recover from window strikes. A recent success story involved a Pileated Woodpecker we received on March 29.

After flying into a window, he was found trying to hide in ivy unable to fly. The result of his impact was bilateral paresis (partial paralysis prohibiting him from being able to walk or fly) and a spinal lesion.

It was touch and go for this woodpecker throughout his treatment. But, after just 15 days—during which time, as you'll see from the video below, he got to work drilling lots of holes on the special woodpecker boards in his enclosure—he was deemed healthy enough for release.

On April 13 he was released into a small forested area near where he was found and, within seconds, he was on top of a snag riddled with woodpecker holes, looking for his mate.

Can't see the video above? Try watching it on our Vimeo channel instead.

You may be wondering how you can prevent window strikes at your home or office. Well you’re in luck; there are many ways to help our bird neighbors and make windows more visible.

  • Use decals, tinting or other methods to reduce reflection such as a liquid UV marker.
  • Hang wind socks, chimes, mobiles, or other objects in front of windows to obstruct birds’ view of reflection.
  • Do not place bird feeders near windows.
  • Cover the glass with one way transparent film.

For more information about window strikes and how to prevent them, check out the helpful resources on our website and

Want to learn more about peaceful coexistence with wildlife? Join us for our free Wildlife-friendly Homes and Yards event, April 22!

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.