Sixth grade students at Mountain View Intermediate were treated to special wildlife outreach presentations which included live wolves and lots of little critters last Friday, March 16.
The presentations were made possible through Wild South, a non-profit grassroots organization whose mission is to inspire people to enjoy, value and protect the wild character and natural legacy of the South.
The program started at noon with Rob Gudger and his four wolves. Gudger, an expert on wolf behavior spoke to students about the four-legged creatures.
According to Gudger, wolves are the most misunderstood wildlife in the animal kingdom. Students had the opportunity to get up close with the wolves and were able to pet the pup of the group. Wolves are no longer found in the wilds of North Carolina and are often rehabilitated in hopes of regenerating the population, explained Gudger.
Kate Marshall, a noted wildlife videographer and spokesperson for Wild South’s “Understanding Our Black Bears” showed students videos of her adventures tracking and documenting wild black bears with her husband Al.
Steve O’Neil was on hand Friday to show students numerous critters ranging from Indy, a skink lizard, to Crash, a box turtle he is nursing back to health in order to release him into the wild this Spring. O’Neil works as a naturalist and outdoor educator at Earthshine Lodge in Lake Toxaway, N.C.
Students enjoyed listening to O’Neil teach them about what to do if they ever encounter the critters in the wild, all while he wore Scar, a black rat snake around the brim of his hat.
Wild South’s vision is for “People of all ages to enjoy, appreciate and take responsibility for the care of our public lands now and for future generations. Our Southern national forests and parks are treasured places with clean water and air, abundant and varied wildlife, and functioning natural processes. They are connected to and enrich our quality of life and the social, economic, and cultural wealth of our communities. Wild South is recognized as a leading protector of our Southern public lands and biodiversity.”