Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
March 22, 2010
Maiden Voyage of Open-air Tram Trailer at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
The first day of spring brings to mind daffodils and warm sea breezes along Coastal North Carolina. At Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, the first day of spring this year was the maiden voyage of the new refuge open-air tram trailer! we’re sure this brand new addition to the refuge’s Visitor Services Program, will add so much to the “refuge experience” for many refuge visitors.
We’ve equipped the tram with a speaker system, so everyone can hear the interpretive message along the way. The tours will usually begin at Creef Cut Wildlife Trail and follow along the Wildlife Drive, making one of several possible loops. The general interpretive message for the tour includes all the basics (message of the USFWS, message of the NWRS, goals and objectives of the refuge, things to see and do on the refuge, etc), plus an assortment of hands-on activities ranging from using telemetry to track red wolves to hunting for deer, bear, and raccoon tracks, to finding the wet trails where bears crossed the road! We examine water control structures and learn how they work, identify some trees, birds, and turtles, and talk about fire and how we use it on the refuge to make habitats better.
On this “maiden voyage”, freshwater turtles - mostly yellow-bellied sliders - were plentiful in the ditches along the route. Some actually stayed in place as the tram passed by. One spotted turtle made its way across the road which gave us an opportunity to make introductions “up close and personal.” Black Bear are always expected on this refuge. Fortunately, one bear cooperated on this tour! And, a Northern Harrier showed off by grabbing a wiggling dinner from a nearby ditch and perching on the ground to consume it.
Until summer, we’ll be offering one tram tour each month on Saturdays. During the summer months, we’ll offer weekly tram tours on Thursdays from 1:30 ‘til 3:30. Plus, we’ll use the tram for the regularly schedule Bear Necessities programs on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 ‘til 7:30. Other times of the year, at least one monthly Saturday tour will be conducted. We anticipate lots of interest among birders during the winter when waterfowl are concentrated in the farm fields.
During Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival in November, there will be many special tram tours offered at Alligator River and a couple at Pea Island. As word gets out to local residents, schools, and tourist-related businesses, we're certain the tram will offer many opportunities for visitors to enjoy the refuge in a relaxed, comfortable, and safe manner. And, while they're our captive audience, we'll make sure they leave knowing much about who we are, what we do, and why we do it! For more information, visit www.fws.gov/alligatorriver/spec.html
Photo Credits: Bonnie Strawser.
Visitor Services Specialist Cindy Heffley introducing a spotted turtle to the participants of the tour.
Wildlife Photographers come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and levels of complexity. Sometimes, a quick photo snapped with a cell phone and immediately sent to a friend conveys the “wonder of wildlife” better than the most professionally taken wildlife photo can do so!
Yes- our bear was far away… but everyone was thrilled to see a bear in the wild. Even with the naked eye- there was no mistaking it!
We plan to get many miles of service, connect many people with nature, and make many refuge friends with our new open-air tram trailer!