The National Elk Refuge is again partnering with the Teton Raptor Center to present a series of "Feathered Fridays" visits during the 2016 / 2017 winter season. The programs, offered each Friday from 12:00-2:00 pm, will run weekly from December 23, 2016 through March 31, 2017.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's partnership with the Teton Raptor Center was developed to capitalize on the success of previous programs offered at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center. At least once a year, the Teton Raptor Center had offered an educational program at the Visitor Center, bringing with them several of their avian ambassadors. The programs were usually standing room only.
With that in mind, the Teton Raptor Center secured funding to bring at least three birds a week to the Visitor Center for two hours each Friday during the 2015 / 2016 winter season. Just over 2,000 people attended a Feathered Fridays program last season, prompting the organizations to again offer the successful program this winter. The National Elk Refuge is one of several organizations providing financial support for the Friday programs.
Though the Teton Raptor Center has its own guest facility at the historic Hardeman Ranch in Wilson, Wyoming, bringing the birds to the National Elk Refuge increased exposure for the local non-profit organization that takes in injured, ill, and orphaned birds of prey and provides veterinary care and rehabilitation in an effort to return the raptors to the wild. "Both our organizations have educational missions," explained Becky Collier, Senior Avian Educator for the Teton Raptor Center. "Our partnership allows us to help the Refuge's interpretive staff broaden the scope of their programming."
During the winter, the Refuge offers an interpretive sleigh ride to view elk and other wildlife. After passengers purchase their tickets, they generally wait for 10-20 minutes for the next ride to depart. Consequently, informal programs without a designated start or finish time are most successful with waiting visitors, who can come and go at their convenience. An opportunity to view live birds inside the Visitor Center enhances the wildlife viewing experience of seeing animals in their natural setting while on a sleigh.
The resident raptors available to greet visitors on "Feathered Fridays" this year can be viewed here.
New in 2016 / 2017: school and non-profit groups can sign up for a Friday group raptor lesson from 11:30 am-12:00 pm by calling (307) 201-5406.
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Elk aren't the only species of wildlife you may see on the National Elk Refuge.