Getting to know our wild neighbors

A new tradition for urban conservationists is born at Seattle Wildlife in the City Week

River Otter. Photo Credit: James Morris

Beavers munch on invasive Japanese knotweed beside a restaurant patio on Lake Union. A river otter takes an evening trot down a sidewalk on West Seattle’s Beach Drive. Bald eagles soar above the tall cedars of Lincoln Park. Harbor seals—moms and pups—peer out of the water to get a look at ferry passengers and stand-up paddle boarders.

These are just some of the wild neighbors that we have the pleasure to cohabitate with here in the Emerald City. And on May 1st, 2017 with the support of a city proclamation from the Mayor of Seattle, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) launched its inaugural event to get to know the animals living among us: Seattle Wildlife in the City Week.

Ranger Rick with Seattle Skyline in the background. Photo Credit: Sharon London

For Seattle-area residents of all ages, Seattle Wildlife in the City Week was an opportunity to learn how we can have a positive impact on wildlife living among us. It also aimed to stir the imagination of the next generation of conservationists: kids!

There were a number of surprise Ranger Rick sightings at city landmarks such as Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, as well as pop-up visits at the Yesler Community Center and the High Point Library. In addition to an urban hike, a boating trip and a “Party with the Puffins” at the Seattle Aquarium, families indulged their curiosity for the nature that surrounds us at the Wildlife in the City Festival hosted with NWF partners at The Pacific Science Center.

“Party with the Puffins” at the Seattle Aquarium. Photo Credit: Sharon London

Our wild neighbors drew supporters from all corners of region. One family, with a 10-year-old daughter who loves animals, drove three hours from the Tri-Cities to join the festival. However, the longest distance traveled for Wildlife in the City Week, and with the most unexpected companion—a life-sized cardboard cutout of a cougar—was claimed by Beth Pratt-Bergstrom.

Beth, Regional Executive Director of the NWF California Regional Center traveled from the Golden State north to Seattle with her paper lookalike of P22, a 7-year-old cougar living in Griffiths Park, home of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. Together, Beth and P22 toured Seattle and the surrounding region, from Ballard Corners Park and the KING 5 New Day Northwest studio to a wilderness crossing construction site on 1-90 and the Pacific Science Center as part of the Science in the City lecture series. With P22 in tow, Beth offered Seattle residents tips on how they can create a natural habitat for wildlife to thrive in their own space and take broader action for the environment.

Beth Pratt Bergstrom and Ranger Rick on KING5 TV’s New Day Northwest with Margaret Larson. Photo Credit: Sharon London

Seattleites have long demonstrated their enthusiasm for citizen conservation and environmental stewardship. Getting to know our wild neighbors was a natural fit! NWF will be hosting additional events throughout the fall of 2017 to prepare for next year: the 2018 Seattle Wildlife in the City Week.

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