FRENCH CREEK — National Wildlife Week is in effect from Monday, April 4 through Friday, April 8. National Wildlife Week gives thanks to Mother Nature for the bountiful food sources among other blessings. The week is also a time to raise awareness on issues that affect wildlife and to take charge in eliminating dangers like climate change and extinction.
The first National Wildlife Week was celebrated in 1938. It was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Nationaltoday.com explained that the organization was established in 1936 to unite dedicated individuals from all walks of life, who wanted to work for the betterment of wildlife. Over the years, actors, writers and politicians have contributed to the cause. Ding Darling, the founder of NWF, met with President Franklin Roosevelt during an official meeting in 1936. The meeting resulted in the commemoration of Wildlife Week with official stamps for the occasion being exchanged and recognized. Initially, National Wildlife Week was called National Wildlife Restoration Week, and it is the longest-running educational program that the NWF has created.
Nearly 20 years later, a cartoon mascot was created for the NWF and was named Ranger Rick. Most recently in 2018, there was a report titled “Reversing America’s Wildlife Crisis: Securing the Future of Our Fish and Wildlife,” which noted that about one-third of the wildlife population in America has an increased risk of extinction.
Nationaltoday.com revealed five facts about extinction. First, it is reported that humans cause extinction. Second is that, while the human population has doubled, the animal population has halved since the 1970s. Third is that the sixth mass extinction is currently unfolding secondary to over-human intervention. The extinction of dinosaurs is considered the fifth mass extinction. Fourth is that extinction is normal. It is stated that extinction is a natural process that occurs yearly with approximately one in five species becoming extinct by this natural process. The fifth fact is that human-caused extinction is not normal.
This can further be elaborated on by examining facts and regulations that are reported by Division of Natural Resources or DNR. The DNR places limits on size and amount of wildlife a person can have. For example, certain species of fish must be returned to the water, if not meeting a size limit. This aids in those fish being able to return to the water and reproduce so that extinction risk is decreased or eliminated. These regulations can and are often applied to other wildlife as well.
Additionally, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) has a law regarding wanton waste. The WVDNR reported that it is illegal for any person to cause through carelessness, neglect or otherwise to let any edible portion of any game fish to go to waste needlessly. The edible portion is the fillet meat from the gill plate to the tail fin. Edible meat does not include bones, sinew, viscera, meat from the head or neck, meat that has been damaged or rendered inedible by method of taking, or meat that is reasonably lost as a result of boning or close trimming of bones. Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon convection thereof, shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500, or confinement in jail not less than 10 days nor more than 100 days, or both fined and confined; suspension of hunting and fishing license for a period of two years; and a applicable forfeiture and replacement provisions in Chapter 20, Article 2, Section 5a of the code.
Wildlife does not just apply to mammals but it also includes plants. Vegetation a very important part of the ecosystem. Vegetation aids in the regulation of many biochemical cycles such as water, carbon and nitrogen. In addition, vegetation helps slow water movement, which reduces land erosion and decreased pollutants from entering our waterways. Vegetation also provides both humans and animals with shelter and acts as a food source. Trees, shrubs, grasses, moss and fungi are all vegetation and support the valuable ecosystem to sustain both human and animal life.
West Virginia has great wildlife areas including the West Virginia State Wildlife Center, located in French Creek. Many have visited the beloved property located right here in Upshur County. Information obtained from the WVDNR website reported that the West Virginia State Wildlife Center was developed in 1923 and was an attempt to reintroduce wildlife throughout the state.
There are many ways to acknowledge wildlife and help decrease extinction. Visiting the WVDNR website will provide you with valuable information on native species of both plants and animals, as well as details on hunting and fishing regulations.
Furthermore, to honor National Wildlife Week, embrace the opportunity to take a trip to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center. There, people of all ages can enjoy and observe native wildlife and learn more about what can be found in the local areas. The Wildlife Center is complete with a restaurant and gift shop and offers a wheelchair accessible trail.
For more information, visit wvdnr.gov or call (304) 924-6211.