Enviroseminar at IslandWood

Enviroseminar at IslandWood

IslandWood will host the 7th annual Bainbridge Island Environmental Conference, aimed at saving and improving local aquatic wildlife habitat, later this month.

The event, organized in association with the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and the Association of Bainbridge Communities, is titled Aquatic Life and Habitat of Bainbridge Island, a topic you might not associate with a center such as IslandWood.

“Even though people don’t think of IslandWood as a center for aquatic life we do incorporate it as one of the ecosystems that we want to protect,” said IslandWood development manager Tami McDaniel. “We have Mac’s pond and a connection with Blakely Harbor and we incorporate teachings about watersheds within our curriculum and our education program.”

Event goers will have the chance to view IslandWood’s connection to marine habitats with a tour of macroinvertebrates in Mac’s Pond guided by naturalist Karen Salsbury.

The event will showcase over 15 environmental organizations that are active in protecting aquatic animals and their habits.

Noted presenters include Bill Curtsinger, a National Geographic photographer who has photographed thirty-three articles and six cover stories for the popular magazine. His presentations will be supplemented by local marine enthusiast John Williams.

Williams, a marine science technician and avid scuba diver, is the creator of Sea Inside Pacific Northwest, a local access television program that takes viewers into the marine world beyond our shores.

Protecting animals and their habitats requires active involvement, and participants will leave with practical suggestions and inspiration from various experts in their fields.

The event takes place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 29. Cost is $20 per person until Sept. 20 ($30 after that) and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Students and teachers are free.

To register call 206.855.4300 or visit

– Sean Roach

PAWS: Keep Fluffy inside

Judy Hartstone has heard a lot about coyotes.

If she is not listening to their howls in the evening she is talking about them with people through the PAWS network.

That was until two days ago.

“I was driving out of my house yesterday and for the first time in over 17 years on the island I saw a coyote,” Hartstone said. “It was amazing. We both stopped and looked at each other for awhile and I thought, ‘you’re telling me I need to defend you right?’”

Hartstone, who has been the executive director of PAWS on Bainbridge Island for over 10 years, believes coyotes have been given a bad rap.

“We don’t have a coyote problem here, we have a people problem,” she said. “People don’t understand that this is a natural world that we are a part of and that the world wasn’t made for us. We have to be realistic about what nature is, and we should revel in the fact that we don’t live in a perfect pristine world on the island.”

Hartstone responded to recent media reports of the disappearance of cats in the Meadowmeer neighborhood, for which some pet owners blame coyotes.

“The issue is a responsible pet ownership one,” she said on the topic of missing cats. “You wouldn’t let your toddler outside without keeping your eye on it or let it go free in nature, you have to protect your animals and keep them safe.”

To ensure that duty is upheld, PAWS has maintained a policy for the last two years that all kittens adopted through the organization must be kept as indoor pets for the entirety of their lives.

The reason, Hartstone says, is as much for their safety as their impact on the balance of nature.

“Cats are not native or indigenous to this area and that is a problem,” she said. “They are depleting the bird population and we don’t want cats out there killing off the songbirds or cats killing mice because the owls, eagles and coyotes need the mice.”

PAWS recommends that pet owners keep animals indoors, and if they aren’t trainable that owners provide an enclosed area that will keep cats in and predators out.

A variety of designs for enclosures are available for owners looking to build safe areas for their animals, Hartstone said.

PAWS helps about 2,000 pets each year. The organization hosts an “Accentuate the PAWSitive” fund-raising event today at Town & Country from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

– Sean Roach

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