The two-year-old, state of the art, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center at Boyce in Clarke County will be open to the general public for the first time on Saturday, January 13 from noon to 3 p.m. Members of the public are invited to the Open House to learn about what goes on day-to-day behind the scenes of this amazing new hospital, only the second of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
A full time veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Riley, treats some 1,000 animals each year. While most are returned to the wild, those whose injuries are more severe are provided permanent shelter at the center. The facility has a $400,000 annual budget and occupies 17 acres of grass and trees immune to the traffic noise of nearby Route 50.
Waiting to welcome visitors to the Open House will be Wildlife Ambassadors such as Jefferson, the American bald eagle; Beeker, a striped skunk; an eastern screech owl named Dopey; Arctic Fox Snow; and a variety of other foxes, squirrels, turtles, possums; and even a black snake called Slim.
Jefferson is one of several raptors housed at the facility that were injured by collisions with vehicular traffic and left unable to fly after their treatment. All, or most, of the animals are used in an extensive educational program conducted in the Bradley Learning Center, as well as off site at schools and clubs in Clarke, Warren and other neighboring counties.
Hillary Davidson, the newly appointed executive director, who boasts an injured owl as a family pet, advises to call ahead (540) 837-9000 if the weather looks dicey, and for directions; or online visit Blue Ridge Wildlife Center.
The wildlife center/hospital is about a half-hour drive from Front Royal.