The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Outdoors

May 25, 2014

Baby bison is newest resident of W.Va. Wildlife Center

FRENCH CREEK — The newest resident of the West Virginia Wildlife Center in French Creek is a female bison calf, born Friday, May 2. The calf joins the many animals native to West Virginia that are on display at the Wildlife Center.

“A bison calf can walk almost immediately after birth, albeit a bit wobbly,” said Rob Silvester, wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Center. “It will begin to nurse within minutes as well. The calf will nurse for four to six months before beginning to nibble on grass and grain.”

Bison once were found in large numbers in West Virginia and across North America, but now are mostly found in captivity for display purposes or on public lands and ranches. They can weigh as much as 2,400 pounds when fully grown. The Wildlife Center has several adult bison as part of the facility’s exhibit.

“This is a great opportunity for the public to see a bison calf,” Silvester said. “If you want to see one in the wild you’d have to go out west. This is a big event for the Wildlife Center and we hope people will visit us over the spring and summer to help us celebrate.”

The West Virginia State Wildlife Center is a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced state wildlife. Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a 1.25-mile, wheelchair-accessible interpretive trail through a mature hardwood forest.

The spacious enclosures allow the animals to interact with their environment and exhibit more natural behavior patterns.            

The Wildlife Center is open seven days a week year-round, including weekends and holidays. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 1-Oct. 31 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 1-March 31.

For more information or to schedule group visits, pavilion reservations or guided tours, please call 304-924-6211 or visit www.wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeCenter.shtm

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