Animal rescue is swarming with orphaned squirrels

LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- A baby squirrel clutches a syringe full of formula like it's her lifeline and it is. Without a human hand feeding her, she wouldn't have survived. And she's not alone.

PAWS is swarming with orphaned squirrels.

"All through August and September we're getting squirrels in all the time," said Emily Meredith, PAWS Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager.

People are bombarding the Wildlife Center in Lynnwood with squirrel questions and drop-offs.

"Every day, several times a day, oh yeah." said Admission specialist Cindy Kirkendall. "And they say, 'hi, I found a baby squirrel on the ground.' "

Some 64 squirrels fill the nurseries and cages, including three northern flying squirrels living in incubators. Overall, 239 injured or orphaned squirrels from King and Snohomish Counties have been admitted this year.

In incubators there are flying squirrels the size of a mouse that kept falling out of a tree before someone brought them in. Five of their siblings were already dead on the ground.

PAWS rescuers think something happened to their mother and they were reaching out to get food on their own.

There are so many squirrels, only outnumbered at PAWS by bunnies and crows, that it consumes the volunteer staff.

"They're feeding squirrels all day long, 4 or 5 squirrels every hour and it gets really taxing on the staff too," Meredith said.

But staff at PAWS prefers the burden to the mistake many people make of trying to raise them and feed them on their own.

Volunteers nurse the tiny squirrels back to health and when they're old enough and strong enough they return them to the same neighborhood where they were found.