Skip to main content

Northwest Trek News

Trailing Fairies

Down a peaceful side trail at Northwest Trek, just past the zipline, a tiny door is just visible in the grass. Silver-spattered with a curtain of moss, it shimmers under the nettle leaves like a mirage. No, you’re not imagining things. It’s a fairy house, and there are twenty more dotted along the same trail – just keep your eyes open. “I was inspired by a ‘gnome trail’ I hiked recently with my family,” says Rick Dietz, Northwest Trek’s Deputy Director. “I thought it would be a fun way to add some excitement to our trails and encourage people to …

Jul 03, 2018

Animal care

see all
Jun 19, 2018

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park’s two new snowy owl siblings received their first wellness exams at Northwest Trek. The exams included a complete hands-on physical inspection from beak to toe, including radiographs, weight, eye and ear exams, and blood work. And keeper Wendi Mello, veterinarian Dr. Allison Case and technician Sara Dunleavy even included a beak trim and claw clipping. All of these tests provide a good picture of overall health and allow veterinary and animal care staff to monitor any changes over time. Both snowy owls are in great condition and received extra TLC following their exams.  

May 30, 2018

It was a fairly routine wellness exam in the Northwest Trek veterinary clinic this week – but with a very special guest. “See, I’m just extending the wing out here to look at his plumage,” says Trek veterinarian Dr. Allison Case, gently unfolding the white underfeathers of Teklus, the barn owl. Reaching with one finger, Dorothy “Doro” Oliver leaned over the peacefully-sleeping bird in awe. “He’s so soft,” she whispered. For Teklus – the Lushootseed word for owl, pronounced “tukloose” and shortened to “Tuck” by staff – it was just an ordinary exam. But for Oliver – celebrating a birthday …

Feb 14, 2018

When you need an annual physical, you take yourself to the doctor. If it’s time for your dog’s annual check-up, you go to the vet. But what do you do for a lynx? A bison? A black bear? At Northwest Trek, we want our animals to be as healthy as possible, and that means regular wellness exams, just like pets or people. But with a wild animal, a vet has to be creative – and collaborative – about checking health signs. “We do a wellness exam for every animal,” says Dr. Allison Case, Northwest Trek veterinarian. That means animals that …

Animals

see all
Jun 15, 2018

Just a few weeks ago, they were orphaned near Ellensburg. Their mother was killed by a car. And the two young badgers were being fed by a kindly landowner who worked to keep the foundlings alive until rescuers from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife could arrive. Today, badger sisters Poppy and Lavender, named for flowering Northwest plants, are at home in a new habitat at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. “They likely could not have survived in the wild and were in need of care and feeding when they were rescued,” Northwest Trek Zoological Curator Marc Heinzman said. “We …

May 09, 2018

It’s baby animal season here at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. The first two bison calves of the season were born a few days ago, a perfectly timed entrance with Mother’s Day just around the corner. Animal caretakers at the wildlife park near Eatonville expect more calves among herds of American bison, Roosevelt Elk, woodland caribou, and Columbian black-tailed deer in the next few weeks, and one lamb is already getting nurture from its bighorn sheep mother on one of the wildlife park’s hillsides. Spring and early summer are traditionally a great time to visit the wildlife park, take a narrated …

May 03, 2018

The caribou at Northwest Trek know Dave Meadows’ voice. “Ca-a-ribou!” he calls. “Ca-a-ribou!” As around a dozen or so graceful animals canter up to him, Meadows opens a gate and lets them through. It’s spring – so it’s time for the caribou to go back out to roam, with Meadows as their caribou-whisperer. A keeper for Trek’s Free-Roaming Area, Meadows deals a lot with these gregarious members of the deer family. Rotating with other keepers, he goes out mornings and afternoons to feed them, check on them and lend a hand if any need veterinary care. And every fall, when …

Mar 02, 2018

There’s a new cat in town at Northwest Trek. Nuka, a young Canada lynx who recently arrived at the wildlife park, has just made her public debut and will move on and off exhibit as she settles into her new home here. She’s also playful – and a delight to care for, say Northwest Trek staff. “She’s so spunky,” said keeper Haley Withers, who helps care for Nuka. “When she knows we’re there, she runs over. And she loves birds – stalking them, chasing them.” She also likes stalking keepers, said fellow keeper Angela Gibson. “She hides behind things and …

Conservation

see all
Jul 16, 2018

The mission began at sunset. After a quick briefing to receive assignments and equipment, 26 staff and volunteers spread silently out to their locations. In the entrance breezeway, near the tram garage and underneath trees, they hunkered low on the ground as darkness grew. They waited, breath hushed. And then, with a chattering and creaking overhead, the mission began: The Great Trek Bat Count of 2018. As bats began to fly out from their roosts into the night to hunt, the humans sitting quietly below them began to click their counters, one for each outgoing bat. One staff member had …

Jun 05, 2018

Some was sprinkled around the base of a tree. More was scattered over the floor of the tram garage. But it was just outside one of the veterinary clinics, under a wide overhanging awning, that Michelle Tirhi got really excited. “Look at all that!” she exclaimed, sweeping her eyes around the concrete floor. “And it’s all fresh! We could just scoop up some right now.” Bending down, she picked up a tiny black sliver the size and shape of a rice grain and held it up triumphantly. Bat poop. Or guano, to be precise. Tirhi, the District II wildlife biologist …

Jun 04, 2018

Amazing. That’s the word used to describe the outcome of the 2018 Point Defiance Park BioBlitz, a 24-hour survey of living things observed in the 760-acre park. By sheer numbers, the BioBlitz more than met its purpose of forging connections between people and their natural surroundings, said Metro Parks Tacoma’s Craig Standridge. In his role as community engagement coordinator at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, he oversaw the April 27-28 event, as well as the previous one in 2011. “There was an overwhelming level of participation and enthusiasm,” he said. “It showed there is a real craving for this type …

Jun 04, 2018

Deep in the forests of Mount Rainier National Park, a female fisher holes up in the crook of a towering Douglas fir, protecting and feeding her newborn kits. Far below and several miles away, a propeller spins faster and faster, generating the speed needed to hurl a small aircraft down an airstrip and into the Northwest skies. The plane’s belly and wings bristle with antennae as it heads off on a mission to pinpoint the fisher’s location using signals from a transmitter implanted before her release. This is a fisher reconnaissance mission, funded with the donations made by Northwest Trek …

Nature

see all
Jul 03, 2018

Down a peaceful side trail at Northwest Trek, just past the zipline, a tiny door is just visible in the grass. Silver-spattered with a curtain of moss, it shimmers under the nettle leaves like a mirage. No, you’re not imagining things. It’s a fairy house, and there are twenty more dotted along the same trail – just keep your eyes open. “I was inspired by a ‘gnome trail’ I hiked recently with my family,” says Rick Dietz, Northwest Trek’s Deputy Director. “I thought it would be a fun way to add some excitement to our trails and encourage people to …

People

see all
May 07, 2018

Jake Pool had a problem most gardeners wouldn’t even imagine: His baby plants were getting ripped up by wolves. Gray wolves, to be precise. Because Pool is the horticulturalist here at Northwest Trek, and he doesn’t just have the usual Northwest garden challenges of slugs and deer. He’s got bigger animals to deal with. Luckily, he also has animal keepers to help find solutions. “Keepers design enrichment to give animals opportunities to express natural behavior,” says keeper Angela Gibson, who looks after the canines, bears and big cats at Northwest Trek. “For wolves these behaviors include territorial marking, caching, tracking …

Feb 14, 2018

She’s a staff member most visitors to Northwest Trek will never see – yet she’s vital to the well-being of every single animal in the Eatonville wildlife park. She’s had a career that’s included everything from ski racing to cattle driving. She’s Dr. Allison Case, head veterinarian at Northwest Trek, and her life is a unique intersection of three things: a passion for wildlife, a passion for the outdoors and a love of learning. “I like studying, finding out what’s wrong,” says Case, who became Trek’s full-time vet in 2017 after 11 years of dividing her time between the wildlife …