Archive for Thursday, April 7, 2005

Vinland views Operation Wildlife

April 7, 2005

Vinland Elementary School students spent an hour Friday morning watching and learning about owls during its annual Operation Wildlife program.

Bill Whinery, Operation Wildlife volunteer, was the presenter for the second straight year. Whinery said he enjoys showing animals to children.

"I love it. It's a tremendous amount of fun," Whinery said. "I enjoy seeing the kids faces when they see the animals up close. I also enjoy holding the raptors, because it each has its own personality."

Barbara Mathews, co-chair sponsor for the event, said the children really enjoy the animals.

"The children enjoy it a lot," Mathews said. "They look forward to it every year. They are very entertained and educated. They don't get to see the animals up close, because many are nocturnal."

This year the students were able to see and learn about five different species of owls. Those species were the eastern screech, short-eared, barred, great horned and barn.

All five owls had been injured or orphaned before being taken to Operation Wildlife. One of the owls is blind and is missing one eye after being hit by a tractor-trailer. A couple others are injured in the wings and are unable to fly.

One aspect of the presentation that sparked the children's interest was the weight of the owls. The great horned owl, the largest owl, only weighed between four and five pounds.

Another fact the children learned was that it is illegal to possess a feather of a bird of prey. Whinery said it is a $10,000 fine to possess an eagle's feather.

Whinery said he knows the students really enjoy the program.

"I know that they really do enjoy it," Whinery said. "The teachers always tell me I should come everyday, because the students pay such good attention."

Mathews said the children are not the only ones who enjoy the animals.

"I think the adults and teachers enjoy it as much as the kids do," Mathews said.

This year marked the sixth year that Operation Wildlife has attended VES. The program changes every year so the kids will see something new each year.

"They have an assortment of presentations they do, and we rotate through their shows," Mathews said.

Mathews and Becky Thomas, co-chairs for the VES Science Fair and wildlife presentation, helped organize the event.

Operation Wildlife is a publicly funded wildlife clinic in Linwood. Operation Wildlife provides professional rehabilitation services for injured and orphaned wild animals. It also provides wildlife education for the citizens of NE Kansas and NW Missouri.

More information on Operation Wildlife is available at www.owl-online.org or at (785) 542-5114.

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