310 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

What better day to talk about beavers than International Beaver Day? PAWS Wildlife Center has rehabilitated and released several beavers over the years, and has been fortunate to be involved in beaver research taking place right here in Washington.

Beavers at PAWS

Beavers sometimes get a bad rap when in fact they're actually a very important species and vital to the health of watersheds

Given their nocturnal habits you may never have seen a beaver in the wild, but I'm sure you will have seen their handy work! 

Beavers are environmental engineers, meaning they can alter the environment they live in – creating better habitat for plants and other animals.

This engineering capability is shown through their very precise and strategic way of building dams and lodges.

These dams trap and hold water, creating a complex of deep and shallow ponds and braided stream channels. These waterways are then used by fish, birds, mammals, and amphibians for nesting, foraging, and protection from predators. 

Beaver dams also slow down erosive flood waters, improve water quality, and recharge groundwater.

Although beavers are important for a healthy ecosystem, we'll admit they can sometimes be hard to live with. There is research currently being conducted to figure out ways people can coexist better with them, and at the same time use their natural talents to restore habitat and ecosystem processes that have been destroyed.

We've been fortunate to work with The Sky Beaver Project—a collaboration between Beavers Northwest and the Tulalip tribe—on just this kind of research in Washington.

One of the goals of the project is to relocate nuisance beavers from the Puget Sound lowlands into headwater streams in the Skykomish River watershed (where beavers are scarce).

By doing so, it's possible to restore habitat in areas where the sediment has been disturbed, to alter the hydrology, and to help reduce the impacts of climate change.

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In relocating nuisance beavers, The Sky Beaver Project first works closely with landowners to try and manage them, using non-lethal controls such as installing pond leveling and exclusion devices. If that doesn’t work, beavers are trapped and relocated for the study.

Beavers are captured at night and transported to a husbandry facility where they are held for a short period of time before being released in the Skykomish watershed. This gives ample time for the researchers to catch an entire family, or play match maker with any individuals they catch alone!

Before the beavers can be transported to their new home, researchers spend lots of time scouting out the best possible release sites. They try to find an area that has:

  • Ample food available
  • Potential for the beavers to convert the site into a pond
  • A site away from people and infrastructure

When the perfect site is located, researchers build a makeshift lodge out of sticks to release the beavers into. Watch footage of two beavers being released into their new home last year:

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

This lodge provides protection while the beavers settle into their new territory. The researchers then monitor the beavers after their release using wildlife cameras.

With the success of research projects like this one, it is possible to restore upland waterways to historic levels and, as a result, increase the habitat quality for animals and humans alike.

For more information on this project—and other research being conducted by Beavers Northwest—visit their website at www.beaversnw.org.

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

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

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


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

The hustle and bustle of the spring season has begun at PAWS Wildlife Center, and with it comes a need for more people to help with the daily care of our wild patients. In fact, the number of people we need during spring and summer more than doubles compared with the rest of the year!

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Right now we're caring for twice as many baby mammals as last week, our outdoor enclosures are starting to fill up, and we're putting the finishing touches to our baby bird nursery which will open in May.

Our first veterinarian extern of the season has arrived (pictured right, palpating an eagle patient's wing for a break in between x-rays); she’ll spend the next four weeks working closely with our veterinary team and animal care staff. 

Each year PAWS welcomes veterinarian externs from across the U.S. to participate in and learn valuable wildlife care techniques in our wildlife hospital.

As well as assisting with surgeries, externs receive hands on experience in wildlife ethics, capture and restraint, parasitology, and radiology.

It's a great environment for gaining skills, experience and an insight into caring for a variety of species they may encounter again as their careers develop. 

As things have picked up, our permanent rehabilitation staff have been kept increasingly busy – caring not only for current patients but also for the new patients arriving on a daily basis.

From bobcats and bears who've spent the winter here, to opossum and squirrel babies who are some of our newest patients, there are all manner of feeding, cleaning, and care schedules to oversee.

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Looks like our seasonal wildlife staff have arrived just in time! Having joined us from wildlife rehabilitation centers across the country, they've begun their training and are quickly getting up to speed on animal care so they can help lighten the load.

In addition to our externs and seasonal staff, the number of volunteers working at the center has also started to increase. Newly-recruited volunteers are being trained every week and shifts are filling up fast. By the end of May we'll have roughly 200 volunteers working at the center on a weekly basis!

We're very fortunate that so many generous, kind people want to spend their free time helping to care for our wild patients. Volunteers are a vital part of animal care here at PAWS, and we couldn’t do what we do without them!

We're excited to bring you more stories about our volunteers and wildlife center patients as the season progresses. In the meantime, if you're interested in getting involved, follow the links below for information on how.

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

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

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


With spring upon us, now’s the perfect time to breathe new life into your backyard. 
Whether you’re attacking the ever-emerging weeds, trimming back your shrubs, manicuring that lawn, or going for a top-to-toe landscaping makeover, there’s lots to be done.

And, this year, why not spare a thought for the wild neighbors who might stop by and enjoy the fruits of your labor, as well as the friends and family who will kick back and relax there this summer?

There are lots of reasons why having a wildlife-friendly yard is a good idea.

It makes the whole space more vibrant, more engaging, more beautiful – and at the same time helps preserve plant and animal species, increase natural diversity, control insect populations, and educate others on the wonders of the natural world!

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Here are some of our top tips for creating an outdoor space that’s as much fun for humans as it is for wild animals:

Think native.
It’s like eating locally-sourced food – not only does it make you feel good, keeping things native is good for our ecosystem and for conservation efforts.

Native plants such as lupines, vine maple, cascade Oregon grape and butterfly bushes are all great options for attracting a variety of wild species, from butterflies and bees to birds and small mammals.

The Washington Native Plant Society has a handy list of native plants by county, which you can browse and download here.

Natural is best.
Where possible, consider all the natural sources of food, water and shelter your yard has to offer, and maximize these.

Whether you have bushes bursting with tasty berries, tree trunks with snags that make great nesting spots, or a place where water naturally collects – these are all fantastic, low-maintenance, natural options for your wild visitors.

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Take hummingbirds as an example. While we’re not suggesting the plastic feeders you can buy from your local garden store are a bad idea, you might consider planting a species of red flowering currant instead. Hummingbirds love plants with tubular flowers – and planting like this will bring a wonderful burst of natural color to your yard!

(One word of advice with hummingbirds – if you do choose a shop-bought feeder, don’t hang lots of them close together. Hummingbirds are very territorial, and we’ve seen patients brought into PAWS Wildlife Center who’ve sustained injuries from these feisty encounters! Also, avoid using red dye to attract them as this is toxic.)

Nutrient-rich fallen tree trunks, known as “nurse logs”, are also a hive of activity. They provide food and hydration for a variety of insects and plants, not to mention a luxury home for a variety of insects, beetles and fungi.

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Fancy a weekend off from mowing your lawn?
Your wild neighbors say no problem! Species like voles and rabbits (pictured, right top) actually prefer it this way as it gives them more ground cover while they’re moving around, making them less visible to predators.

Likewise with fallen leaves – don’t feel you have to rush out with the rake every day (or, if you do, leave some piled up in a discreet corner).

Frogs, salamanders and other small creatures use them in a variety of ways, from nest materials to that perfect hiding spot.

Look out for creative nesters!
With nest-building already underway for many species here in the Pacific Northwest, be careful to check for nests in unusual places.

Here at PAWS, we’ve found them in among hose pipes, electrical boxes (pictured, right center) and even light fixtures!

Considering providing a nesting box? Click here for some tips on nesting box success from the National Wildlife Federation.

Equipment that's been out of action over the winter can also bring surprises when uncovered for the warmer weather.

Raccoons, for example, love setting up home in boats – they’ve even been known to take a shine to hot tubs as nesting spots of choice!

If you come across an animal’s home that’s in a seemingly hazardous location, please don’t disturb it before seeking advice.

You can call us here at PAWS on 425.412.4040 or—if you’re outside Washington State—contact the National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association or the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council for guidance on rehabilitation centers in your area that can help.

I live in an apartment and my “yard” is a balcony. What can I do?
You don’t have to live on a multi-acre property in the middle of nowhere to encourage and enjoy wildlife.

In an apartment setting, native flowers and plants in containers and small water features (see an innovative wall-mounted design, pictured right) are both great ideas. 

Feeders that are regularly emptied/not overfilled will also attract local birds – without encouraging less desirable visitors such as rats looking for an easy feed!

Want to learn more about peaceful coexistence with our wild neighbors? Join our in-house expert, Wildlife Admissions Specialist Cindy Kirkendall, at Shoreline Library on Wednesday, April 22 for Wildlife-friendly Homes & Yards: Living Harmoniously with Wildlife.

In short, making a few wildlife-friendly choices along the way—whatever space you have to work with—will not only result in a beautiful outdoor area you can enjoy with family and friends. More than likely, it will come alive with wild visitors too!

 

More questions about wildlife-friendly living? Email us.

Found an injured or sick wild animal in WA? Call us on 425.412.4040 as soon as possible, or use our online resources to 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

Most of the patients at PAWS Wildlife Center are either feathered or furred, but every once in a while we get a patient of the amphibian persuasion.

On March 16, a Northwestern Salamander was brought to PAWS for care. He was found lying on AstroTurf, away from any suitable habitat, and appeared to be limping.

This isn’t surprising considering all of the rain we'd had the weekend before. Although Northwestern Salamanders spend the majority of their time underground, they're most active above ground after heavy rains.

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Northwestern Salamanders are medium sized and dark colored with a short, rounded head. Very common in western Washington and found in moist habitats, they're breeding during this time of year which makes them more active.

They lay clusters of eggs on underwater plants and grass. It can take at least 12 to 14 months for larvae to transform into metamorphosed adults and emerge from the water. However, some never fully transform and spend their entire life in the water.

Larvae and adults are mildly poisonous and can emit a sticky poison to keep predators away. Adults will even lash their tail to spread the poison around.

Lucky for us, our salamander patient never displayed this behavior!

An examination by our expert wildlife rehabilitators determined that he didn't have any injuries and was walking normally. And so, after just two days in our care, he was released in a moist area near where he was found.

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

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

 


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

This month, in Washington, wildlife is on the move – which makes it prime time for wildlife viewing!

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Some wildlife species are coming out of hibernation while others are migrating, competing for breeding territories, and starting to attract mates.

To highlight just a few:

  • Grey Whales are passing through heading north to their feeding grounds in the Arctic
  • Seabirds are moving to their breeding grounds
  • Sandhill Cranes are stopping over in the Columbia Basin on their way to Alaska

PAWS may not treat all of the species listed above here in our dedicated wildlife rehabilitation facilities, but this is the time of year we receive other species who are on the move as well.

We recently cared for a Silver Haired Bat who was seeking warmth in someone’s living room—pictured below, being measured to identify which species it is—and two adult Anna’s Hummingbirds and a Red-breasted Sapsucker, who were all found on the ground unable to fly.

Silver Haired Bat, March 2015 JM

When wildlife moves through an urban environment species can often come into contact with hazards they wouldn’t normally experience in a more natural setting. They may run into a window, get struck by a vehicle, or get attacked by a domestic animal.

When incidents like these happen, they may need our help.

So, while you're out enjoying the fresh air and warmer temperatures this spring, keep an eye out for wildlife who may need a helping hand.

Found a wild animal in need? 
If you're near Lynnwood in Washington, find out how PAWS can help. If you're outside Washington State, we would recommend you reaching out to your local wildlife rehabilitation facility or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for advice. 

This month, there are also plenty of opportunities for us to celebrate and learn about the wildlife moving through the state. Check out some of these fun festivals:

The “Wings Over Water” Northwest Birding Festival (March 13-15) is an annual event that features wildlife viewing field trips in the NW corner of Washington.

Make a date with the Tundra Swan Festival, an annual event commemorating the return of the tundra swans to NE Washington. It happens March 21 in Usk, Washington. 

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The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival takes place in Othello, Washington (March 27-29) and highlights the spring return of Sandhill Cranes to the greater Othello area and Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

If you're looking for something a little closer to home, keep the last week in March in mind and head down to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (between Tacoma and Olympia).

You can view hundreds of migrating waterfowl and other wading birds, like the Great Blue Heron pictured right who was photographed there last year.

For recent whale sightings, you can check out the Orca Network.

And, as if all these fantastic events weren't enough to keep you busy, did you know we're right in the middle of National Wildlife Week

This year's event, organized by the National Wildlife Federation and running through March 15, celebrates the joys and challenges of living with wildlife

Happy wildlife viewing, and peaceful co-existing with our wild neighbors!

Want to get involved with wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS? Become a volunteer or consider our internship opportunities.

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


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

With daylight savings just around the corner, it's that invigorating time of year when the weather starts to feel warmer and the days are getting longer.Spring is upon us, and with it comes baby season at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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Our dedicated team of wildlife volunteers are very busy right now, preparing our facility for the arrival of our first mammal babies of the year.

Did you know that, every year, PAWS cares for more than 800 baby mammals in our tailor-made mammal nurseries?

The kinds of babies we see brought into our wildlife hospital include flying squirrels (pictured, right), Townsend’s chipmunks and raccoons; just to name a few.

We couldn't care for so many wild animals in need without our volunteers—and, well before the arrival of the first babies, their involvement kicks off with the less cute but just as crucial business of DIY.

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From repairing old wooden hide boxes and building new ones (see Jodi, pictured right, measuring up a new box), to sewing mini hammocks and preparing the deer pen, there's a lot to get ready.

Volunteers also help with setting up and stocking all of the nurseries, building haul outs for the seals, and giving our nursery a fresh coat of paint.

So, who do we expect to be the first patients this year?

Squirrels are typically the first baby mammals to arrive, in the early spring. 

When they arrive they're small and still very reliant on mom. Put on a strict feeding schedule they're monitored by our rehabilitation staff, and volunteers are responsible for their feedings and for cleaning their enclosures. 

Everyone works together to keep these babies healthy as they grow, and prepare them for their return to the wild.

If you're inspired by all this activity and would like to get involved, there's still time to sign up and help this baby season! Find out more about volunteering at PAWS and how you can help raise baby mammals this summer.


Inspired by this story? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.
Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

What one of our newest patients at PAWS Wildlife Center lacks in size, he more than makes up for in personality! 

This patient is Ruddy Duck #15-0135. Weighing in at just under one pound, he was found in a parking lot with wounds on his head, wings, and feet.

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Ruddy Ducks are very common in Washington; they breed in the eastern region and winter in the coastal region of the state.

Their unique breeding plumage and strange behavior has fascinated naturalists and birders alike since the early 1920’s.

During the breeding season the males sport a bright sky blue colored bill, white cheek patches on their black head and their body is a striking cinnamon color.

They are the only stiff tailed duck in Washington and the only duck that habitually holds its long black tail upright when surface swimming.

Ruddy Ducks also have very unique breeding behavior; the male will beat his bill against his chest creating vibrations in the water. These vibrations cause ripples and bubbles making his presence known to other ducks in the area.

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Despite being one of the smallest species of diving ducks in the United States, Ruddy Ducks are also one of the feistiest.

They are very aggressive toward other ducks and wildlife species. They have even been known to chase wildlife away that are feeding along shorelines.

We have definitely noticed some of that spunk in this Ruddy Duck patient!

When staff approach his pool for feedings he pulls back his neck, opens his bill and hisses (pictured, right); sometimes he even tries to charge us in his pool when we directly care for him.

After an initial round of wound management by our veterinary team this Ruddy Duck patient is doing well and spends his days swimming, diving, and preening in his pool (see the video below). 

The rehabilitation team have been working hard to keep him nutritionally and behaviorally healthy while his wounds heal and his waterproofing improves—both of which are vital for his release.

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

Patient update, February 19: with wounds fully healed and waterproofing assessed, our feisty Ruddy Duck patient was deemed ready for release and happily reintroduced to his natural habitat.

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Inspired by this story? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.
Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

Welcome to a new segment we, at PAWS, like to call What’s Happening in Washington, where we bring you news about what's happening in our area relating to wildlife—including research, events, and ways you can get involved.

The month of February brings the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). From February 13th to 16th The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are asking citizen scientists like you to help them count birds.

Every year the GBBC is conducted all over the world. In 2014, 142,051 participants from 135 countries counted over 17 million birds encompassing 4,300 different species. Pretty impressive!

Participation is easy, open to all age groups, and is a fun family activity. Register online for the GBBC, count birds in your yard for at least 15 minutes on one or more days during the GBBC and then enter your results on the GBBC website. It’s that simple.

You can even explore what others are seeing all over the world and take a look at the bird photographs submitted in real time.

Bird Collage

The data collected from the GBBC gives researchers a snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds all around the world. These counts are then combined with data from other projects to help researchers gain a better understanding of bird biology.

They can gain insight into how weather influences bird populations, changes in bird migrations, how diseases are affecting bird populations and how species diversity has changed.

At PAWS Wildlife Center we feel connected to this project because we receive almost two thousand backyard birds from the Seattle area every year.

Some of the birds you see in your backyard may have even been treated at PAWS (recent patients are pictured, right).

PAWS is happy to be participating in the GBBC this year and will be counting the wild birds living at our Lynnwood campus.

Lets all get outside this weekend, count birds and be citizen scientists! Let's see if we can get Washington in the top ten for the total number of participants in the United States (last year we were #14 with 3,356 participants).

For more information about the GBBC, and to get tips on how to identify bird species, please visit the official GBBC website.

Happy Birding!

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Help backyard birds in need. Become a Bird Nursery Caretaker at PAWS.

Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for injured and baby backyard birds.

Interested in a career caring for wild birds? Check out our Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation internship.


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

Robbie Thorson started at PAWS as a volunteer, then progressed to an internship before becoming a Seasonal Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator last summer.

A college graduate in biology, with a focus on ecology and evolution, Robbie will soon start his second six-month stint as a seasonal assistant rehabilitator. He takes us behind the scenes to reveal more about this vital hands-on role assisting permanent staff at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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So Robbie, what does your average day look like?
Although there’s a pattern to each shift—administering meds, feeding, helping with intake exams (pictured right with an Osprey patient), fixing cages, cleaning—every day seems different because of the variety of species we see coming in and their individual needs.

One of the more physical activities seasonal assistants are assigned is cleaning the seabird pools, which involves wearing some super trendy bright yellow personal protective equipment and jumping right in! Not so bad when there are seabirds recuperating, but we also use these pools for Harbor Seal patients—they’re not so house-proud!

We also work with the wildlife center interns, assigning them daily duties, so you get some people management experience as well.

What do you enjoy most about the job?
The thing I love most is the variety it provides—and the opportunity to get hands on with many species that I didn’t have the chance to work with as either a volunteer or intern. From bear cubs to Bobcats, Bald Eagles to Harbor Seals, every day brings a new and fascinating learning experience.

There’s also room for progression here. During my time in college I worked a lot with birds, which is great because we see many birds coming into PAWS Wildlife Center and I can apply my knowledge in a professional setting. But now I also have so much additional knowledge and experience thanks to assisting with the care of mammals, marine mammals, reptiles… whatever comes through the door in need of our help.

Undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things I experience first-hand is the transformation of a wild animal in need of urgent care to a healthy animal ready to go back into the wild. There can be touch and go moments along the way but when it comes to the release day (weeks or months later), you get an amazing buzz knowing you’ve had a part to play in that animal’s rehabilitation and return to its natural habitat.

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Robbie (far left) assisting with a raccoon release

Has there been a stand-out experience for you?
In October 2014, we were involved in the rehabilitation and care of a juvenile male Steller Sea Lion, found stranded on a beach in need of help. Caring for this species was a first for PAWS, and a pretty special moment in my time here!

As a seasonal assistant, I was called on to help with the handling of the sea lion—a great privilege. In his early days with us he was very weak and hardly struggled when we were needed to help with feeding or health checks, but just days later it took two or three people to handle him!

A few weeks after his arrival, I helped prepare him for transfer to a marine mammal center in California, where he would continue his rehabilitation with other sea lions. All in all—a pretty amazing experience, and an example of how varied this job can be. One day you’re syringe-feeding baby squirrels, the next you’re assisting with a Steller Sea Lion!

Watch footage of our first ever Steller Sea Lion, and his rehabilitation story, here.

Who would be well-suited to this role?
If you’re interested in wildlife rehabilitation as a career, I’d definitely recommend applying for this position at PAWS. You do hit the ground running when you start, so some prior experience would be helpful. I found it really useful to have started as a volunteer and worked my way up.

PAWS wildlife center is the only rehabilitation center in Washington State equipped with immediate and continual veterinary expertise and services, all in-house. It’s a great place to work, and a fantastic organization to have on your resume.

Think this might just be the right job for you? We’re accepting applications for this seasonal position (April 1-September 30 2015) until Friday, February 13. Find out more and apply today.


Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS.
Start your journey towards a career with wildlife. Volunteer at PAWS.
There's another way you can help us continue helping wild animals in need. Donate now.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

When it comes to American Black Bears we have a full house at PAWS Wildlife Center with five bears this winter.

Our three oldest bears are being housed under cooler conditions allowing them to rest and “hibernate” which means they essentially decrease their activity and sleep most of the day. This really makes our animal care staff happier because these bears aren’t messing up their enclosures as often!

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The littlest bears are our newer patients and were both found wandering alone; too young to survive without mom.

They were captured and brought to PAWS by state wildlife officers for rehabilitation on November 17th and on December 31st.

They were both approximately 20lbs, which is very small for this time of year, and they were thin and anemic on intake.

When the last bear cub arrived she was housed separately for a short time to ensure she was healthy enough to join our other small cub.

After a typical quarantine period the two littlest bears were introduced to each other slowly at first; now every day they grow more attached to one another as they play and sleep together.

While undergoing rehabilitation, it is crucial for young animals to be housed with others of their species (conspecifics). This reduces habituation and boredom. They also learn how to identify, find and compete for natural foods as well as how to behave, communicate and socialize.

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This is especially important for young bears as they learn through direct observation and participation with other bears.

Bear cubs would normally learn from their mothers in the wild but as this isn’t an option for our small cubs, housing them together to learn from one another is the next best thing.

These PAWS’ bears will be housed together until their release back into the wild in the springtime, when food is abundant, in the mountains of Washington State.

Check out the video below of them searching for food in their enclosure:

Can't see this video? Watch it on our Vimeo channel instead.


Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.