West Virginia State Wildlife Center

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West Virginia State Wildlife Center
Zoological park
West Virginia State Wildlife Center - Bison.jpg
Bison exhibit at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center.
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Upshur
Elevation1,745 ft (531.9 m) [1]
Coordinates 38°51′19″N80°18′41″W / 38.85528°N 80.31139°W / 38.85528; -80.31139 Coordinates: 38°51′19″N80°18′41″W / 38.85528°N 80.31139°W / 38.85528; -80.31139
Area338 acres (136.8 ha) [2]
Owner West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Section
Nearest city Buckhannon, West Virginia
USA West Virginia location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of West Virginia State Wildlife Center in West Virginia
Website: www.wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeCenter.shtm

The West Virginia State Wildlife Center is a zoological park in French Creek, West Virginia. Operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Wildlife Center displays many of West Virginia's wildlife, including both native and introduced species. [3] A few of the animals at the Wildlife Center were once found naturally in West Virginia, but were extirpated by the early 1900s (decade). [2]

French Creek, West Virginia Unincorporated community in West Virginia, United States

French Creek is an unincorporated community in Upshur County, West Virginia, United States.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) is an agency of the government of the U.S. state of West Virginia. While formerly known as the cabinet-level Department of Natural Resources, it is now part of the West Virginia Department of Commerce. The WVDNR is responsible for wildlife management, hunting and fishing regulations, and boater safety and also oversees state parks and resorts. It also operates the West Virginia State Wildlife Center, a zoo in French Creek that exhibits West Virginian wildlife.

Wildlife undomesticated organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans

Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species, but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans. Wildlife can be found in all ecosystems. Deserts, forests, rain forests, plains, grasslands and other areas including the most developed urban areas, all have distinct forms of wildlife. While the term in popular culture usually refers to animals that are untouched by human factors, most scientists agree that much wildlife is affected by human activities.


The Wildlife Center comprises 338 acres (137 ha) and displays 29 different species of West Virginia mammals, birds, and reptiles, which are located along a 1.25-mile (2.01 km) trail through a mature hardwood forest. [2] [3] The animal exhibits are spacious chain-link enclosures within an actual West Virginian forest, which allows the animals to interact with the environment and behave in more natural ways than one would see in most other zoos that attempt to recreate the environment. [3] The Wildlife Center receives about 50,000 visitors per year. [3]

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

Trail path with a rough beaten or dirt/stone surface used for travel

A trail is usually a path, track or unpaved lane or road. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland path or footpath is the preferred term for a walking trail. The term is also applied, in North America, to routes along rivers, and sometimes to highways. In the US, the term was historically used for a route into or through wild territory used by emigrants. In the USA "trace" is a synonym for trail, as in Natchez Trace. Some trails are single use and can only be used for walking, cycling, horse riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing; others, as in the case of a bridleway in the UK, are multi-use, and can be used by walkers, cyclists and equestrians. There are also unpaved trails used by dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles and in some places, like the Alps, trails are used for moving cattle and other livestock.

Natural environment All living and non-living things occurring naturally, generally on Earth

The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally, meaning in this case not artificial. The term is most often applied to the Earth or some parts of Earth. This environment encompasses the interaction of all living species, climate, weather and natural resources that affect human survival and economic activity. The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished as components:


By the early 20th century, many of West Virginia's major fauna were either extirpated or driven dangerously close to extirpation due to uncontrolled habitat loss and overhunting. By 1911, many of the state's most common large mammals, such as elk, bison, wolves, and mountain lions, had been completely eradicated. Even animals that are common in the state today, such as the white-tailed deer and wild turkey, were nearly wiped out by uncontrolled habitat loss and hunting. Growing concerns for West Virginia's wildlife led the state's government to create the French Creek Game Farm in 1923, where native West Virginian wildlife could be bred and reintroduced back into the wild. [2] Eventually, ecologists learned that animals bred in captivity lack the instincts that are necessary to survive in the wild, so the reintroduction projects were discontinued, but the Game Farm remained open as a popular tourist attraction. [2] The Game Farm remained popular because it allowed people to see animals that no longer existed in the state, and also because many of the animals displayed at the Game Farm are too elusive to be commonly seen in the wild, even though several of the species are often found near people's houses.

Fauna set of animal species in any particular region and time

Fauna is all of the animal life present in a particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora. Flora, fauna and other forms of life such as fungi are collectively referred to as biota. Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess Shale fauna". Paleontologists sometimes refer to a sequence of faunal stages, which is a series of rocks all containing similar fossils. The study of animals of a particular region is called faunistics.

Animal husbandry Management, selective breeding, and care of farm animals by humans

Animal husbandry is the branch of agriculture concerned with animals that are raised for meat, fibre, milk, eggs, or other products. It includes day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of livestock.

Species reintroduction is the deliberate release of a species into the wild, from captivity or other areas where the organism is capable of survival. The goal of species reintroduction is to establish a healthy, genetically diverse, self-sustaining population to an area where it has been extirpated, or to augment an existing population. Species that may be eligible for reintroduction are typically threatened or endangered in the wild. However, reintroduction of a species can also be for pest control. For example, wolves being reintroduced to a wild area to curb an overpopulation of elk or deer. Because reintroduction may involve returning native species to localities where they had been extirpated, some prefer the term "reestablishment".

In 1986, the French Creek Game Farm was renamed the West Virginia State Wildlife Center. [3] Today, the Wildlife Center serves to educate visitors about West Virginia's wildlife of the past and present and about the history of wildlife conservation. In addition to animal exhibits, the Wildlife Center also possesses a gift shop; an additional trail through the forest; picnic areas with grills and picnic tables; and a large fishing pond that is stocked with trout, bass, catfish, and bluegill. Future projects include an educational center, an auditorium, a nocturnal animal exhibit, reptile exhibits, aquatic mammal exhibits, an aviary, and an aquarium. [3]

Past subdivision of time

The past is the set of all events that occurred before a given point in time. The past is contrasted with and defined by the present and the future. The concept of the past is derived from the linear fashion in which human observers experience time, and is accessed through memory and recollection. In addition, human beings have recorded the past since the advent of written language. The first known use of the word "past" was in the fourteenth century; it developed as the past participle of the middle english verb passen meaning "to pass."

Conservation biology the study of threats to biological diversity

Conservation biology is the management of nature and of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction and the erosion of biotic interactions. It is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on natural and social sciences, and the practice of natural resource management.

Gift shop store primarily selling souvenirs relating to a particular topic or theme

A gift shop or souvenir gift shop is a store primarily selling souvenirs relating to a particular topic or theme. The items sold often include coffee mugs, stuffed animals, t-shirts, postcards, handmade collections and other souvenirs. Gift shops are normally found in areas visited by many tourists. Hotels and motels in Canada and the United States often feature a gift shop near their entrance. Venues such as zoos, aquariums, national parks, theme parks, and museums have their own gift shops; in some cases these shops sell items of higher value than gift shops not associated with a venue, as well as trinkets. These stores are sometimes a source of financial support for educational institutions.

Animals on display

Logo of West Virginia State Wildlife Center Wvstatewv.jpg
Logo of West Virginia State Wildlife Center
Groundhog species of mammal

The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. It was first scientifically described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. The groundhog is also referred to as a chuck, wood-shock, groundpig, whistlepig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, red monk and, among French Canadians in eastern Canada, siffleux. The name "thickwood badger" was given in the Northwest to distinguish the animal from the prairie badger. Monax (Móonack) is an Algonquian name of the woodchuck, which meant "digger". Young groundhogs may be called chucklings. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the groundhog is a lowland creature. It is found through much of the eastern United States across Canada and into Alaska

Red fox species of mammal

The red fox is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the order Carnivora, being present across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, North America and Eurasia. It is listed as least concern by the IUCN. Its range has increased alongside human expansion, having been introduced to Australia, where it is considered harmful to native mammals and bird populations. Due to its presence in Australia, it is included on the list of the "world's 100 worst invasive species".

Gray fox species of mammal

The gray fox, or grey fox, is an omnivorous mammal of the family Canidae, widespread throughout North America and Central America. This species and its only congener, the diminutive Channel Island fox, are the only living members of the genus Urocyon, which is considered to be the most basal of the living canids. Though it was once the most common fox in the eastern United States, and still is found there, human advancement and deforestation allowed the red fox to become more dominant. The Pacific States still have the gray fox as a dominant. It is the only American canid that can climb trees. Its specific epithet cinereoargenteus means "ashen silver".


The West Virginia Wildlife Center is located about 12 miles south of Buckhannon on WV 20, at the intersection of WV 20 and Alexander Road, also known to some locally as "the Game Farm road," referencing the previous name of the facility. To reach the Wildlife Center, take WV 20 from Buckhannon (or from the south, from Flatwoods, use I-79 Exit 67 to US 19 north, WV 4 north, to WV 20 north), then turn onto Alexander Road. The entrance will be on the right after about 1/4 mile.

See also

Fauna of West Virginia

The life zones of West Virginia allow for a diversity of habitats for fauna, varying from large lowland farming valleys bordered with forest and meadow to highland ridge flats and heavy forestland, some with rocky ridge-line peaks. The "Mountain State" harbors at least 56 species and subspecies of mammals. The state has more than 300 types of birds and more than 100 species of fish.

Related Research Articles

Wildlife of North Carolina

This article seeks to serve as a field-guide, central repository, and listing for the flora and fauna of North Carolina and surrounding territories.

Mammals of Rocky Mountain National Park

There are 67 native species of mammals in Rocky Mountain National Park, a 265,461 acres (107,428 ha) park in Colorado. Species are listed by common name, scientific name, habitat, and abundance. Extirpated species are marked with an EX.


  1. "West Virginia State Wildlife Center". Elevation Query. U.S. Geological Survey . Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Silvester, Rob (Spring 2003). "West Virginia State Wildlife Center: A Century of Conservation and Education". West Virginia Wildlife. Charleston, West Virginia: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources . Retrieved 2009-07-09.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "West Virginia State Wildlife Center". West Virginia Division of Natural Resources . Retrieved 2009-07-10.