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National Elk Refuge News – April 24th 2017

Rayne, a rescued eastern screech owl, is one of Teton Raptor Center’s resident raptors. Photo National Elk Refuge.

 

 

The following is from the National Wildlife Refuge newsletter dated April 24, 2017. As a proud sponsor of Feathered Fridays we are excited to hear about how successful the program was this year. Thanks to the Teton Raptor Center and the National Elk Refuge for making this great program happen!

— The National Elk Refuge winter season wrapped up earlier this month, with educational and interpretive programs ending on April 10. The Refuge’s two most popular educational programs, winter sleigh rides and Feathered Fridays, set records for the number of people participating this year.

Winter sleigh rides on the Refuge are always sought after, with an average of just over 23,000 people taking a ride each season over the past decade. The unique wildlife viewing experience allows people to get
close to wintering elk and other wildlife while learning more about the National Elk Refuge and management of the Jackson Elk Herd.

This year, 32,753 riders participated in the program, up 13% from last year’s ridership and, more noteworthy, the highest number of sleigh riders on record since the program began in 1965. It’s also only the second time in the program’s 52-year history the number of riders has surpassed the 30,000 mark.
After passengers purchase their sleigh tickets, they generally wait for 10 to 20 minutes for the next ride to depart. Consequently, informal educational programs without a designated start or finish time are most successful with waiting visitors who can come and go at their convenience.

As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Teton Raptor Center offered a Feathered Fridays program again this season, the second year of a partnership that brings live birds to the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center for
two hours each Friday. The birds were located throughout the Visitor Center where guests could view them, speak with the bird handlers, and observe and photograph the avian ambassadors from an arm’s length away.

Though attendance in last year’s inaugural season was deemed a success, participation in this year’s Feathered Friday programs rose 31%, with 2,652 people attending one of the 15 events offered from December 23 through March 31.
Of the total of Feathered Friday guests this season, 583 were youth traveling with their parents or attending with a school group. Refuge winter naturalists gave three school programs in conjunction with a Feathered Friday visit, offering lessons that focused on birds.

“These two winter programs exemplify creative solutions and partnering to increase public outreach and engage audiences in
fun, educational programming,” explained Refuge Manager Brian Glaspell.
Thanks to all who made this such a successful winter season!—


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