CLEARVIEW — The Progressive Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS, is nearing completion of a 4,600-square-foot wildlife hospital that will care for injured and orphaned wild animals.
PAWS cares for about 150 species a year: bats, beavers, black bears, bobcats, chipmunks, muskrats, raccoons, squirrels, songbirds and raptors.
The $18 million hospital is the first piece of a new and larger wildlife center to replace an existing wildlife facility in Lynnwood. Located on 25 acres off Highway 9 in the Clearview area south of Snohomish, the new center has been years in the making. It could be operational by the end of the year.
“We really need room to grow,” PAWS CEO Heidi Wills Yamada said.
In the past five years, calls to the wildlife center have increased by 75%, she said.
“We are seeing a huge increase in the number of animals in distress in our community,” she said.
“We’ve never received bears that were burned by wildfire,” Wills Yamada said. “When we got four, we were flabbergasted. It’s alarming.”
One of the bears had such severe burns to its paw pads that it had to be euthanized, she said. PAWS is still rehabilitating the other three for release back into the wild this spring.
The PAWS wildlife center in Lynnwood can care for about six black bears at a time. The site south of Snohomish could serve up to 3o bears at a time, Wills Yamada said.
“It’s a pretty secluded location, which is ideal for rehabilitating wildlife,” she said.
She said the new hospital will be about 800 square feet larger than the size of the entire wildlife center in Lynnwood. The size of the surgery room will jump from 86 square feet to 420 square feet.
As extreme weather becomes more frequent and human populations increase, “PAWS wants to be in a position to meet the growing needs of our region’s wild animals,” Wills Yamada wrote in an email.
The new wildlife hospital is just the first phase of the PAWS expansion.
In the next phase, PAWS plans to build six wildlife enclosures, an aquatics center and a second building with baby bird nurseries, animal food preparation areas and administrative offices.
Wills Yamada said the planned completion date for the hospital is April 11. The hospital won’t be operational, however, until the six wildlife closures are built.
She said PAWS is currently raising $5 million to build the enclosures. The plan is to begin construction on the enclosures this spring and be done before the end of the year.
She said PAWS is in design process for the center’s second building.
The estimated cost of the second phase of the project is $10 million.
Once the new center is up and running, the Lynnwood site will continue to provide shelter for cats and dogs.
Recently, the Port of Everett got involved with the project to support the marine life in the Puget Sound, Port CEO Lisa Lefeber said in an email.
The port commission voted on Jan. 11 to contribute $15,000 to the new wildlife hospital.
The PAWS Wildlife Center is one of only two in the state permitted to rehabilitate marine mammals, port documents state.
“As a committed steward of our waterfront, and with PAWS providing key support for the health and wellbeing of our diverse marine wildlife here,” Lefeber said, “there was no question we should find a way to work together.”