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West Virginia State Wildlife Center:  A Great Place To Visit!

  • Info
  • History
  • Events
  • Maps
Barred Owl

Wildlife CenterThe West Virginia State Wildlife Center is a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced state wildlife. Operated by the Wildlife Resources Section of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Wildlife Center is dedicated to presenting visitors a realistic and factual understanding of our state's wildlife. Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible interpretative trail 1.25 mile through a mature hardwood forest.

The spacious enclosures allow the animals to interact with their environment and they therefore exhibit more natural behavior patterns. Interpretive signs help the visitor to learn more about each animal's life history, biology and its relationship with humans. Group tours are available upon request.

French creek FreddieThe Wildlife Center is the perfect setting for a family outing. In addition to exhibits, there is a large wooded picnic area with grills and a shelter. Look for waterfowl or fish for trout, bass, catfish and bluegill in the well-stocked pond below the picnic area. A gift shop is available to satisfy your souvenir and refreshment needs. The Wildlife Center is a facility where visitors can see, enjoy and learn more about West Virginia's rich wildlife heritage.

CougarDirections:
Raccoons

The West Virginia State Wildlife Center is located in Upshur County in north-central West Virginia, 12 miles south of Buckhannon on State Route 20. From the north take exit 99 off Interstate 79 and follow State Route 33 east approximately 12 miles to Buckhannon and turn south on State Route 20. Coming from the south, take exit 67 off Interstate 79 at Flatwoods and follow State Routes 19 and 4 north approximately 30 miles to Rock Cave and Route 20. Follow State Route 20 North for 2 miles to the center. Visiting the Wildlife Center is a convenient side trip for travelers on I-79.

GPS Coordinates:

N 38 51’ 28.6”
W 80 18’ 38.7”

Hours:

We are open seven days a week including weekends and holidays.
Subject to change due to weather conditions

April 1 – Oct. 31:   9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (exit gate closes at 6 p.m.)
Nov. 1 – Mar. 31:  9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (exit gate closes at 4 p.m.)

Admission:

Admission – April 1 through October 31
  Adults 16 and over $3.00
  Children 3-15 $1.50
  Under 3  Free
For More Information – To schedule a group visits, pavilion reservations, or guided tours, please call our business office at 304-924-6211 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Pets:

No pets, except on leash in parking lots and picnic area.

For more information:

Call (304) 924-6211 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

West Virginia State Wildlife Center:  A Legacy of Wildlife Conservation  

Exhibition TruckIn 1923, the Game and Fish Commission purchased property in Upshur County and created the French Creek Game Farm. As its name implies, several species such as quail, pheasant, turkey and deer were raised on the area. These species were used in an attempt to reintroduce wildlife throughout the state. As our understanding of wildlife biology and habitat requirements increased, it became evident that farm-raised animals failed to develop the necessary skills for survival in the wild and these programs were discontinued.

From the beginning, the recreational and educational values of the Game Farm were recognized by area residents. In 1926 alone, nearly 6,000 visitors came to the Game Farm to view the animals. One large crowd gathered to see three elk brought by wagon from the railroad station. By 1927, the number of registered visitors grew to 20,000. Buffalo from Oklahoma were added to the exhibit in 1954 and attracted additional visitors.

A proclamation by the President of the United States and the Governor of West Virginia created a National Hunting and Fishing Day in 1971. This event was initially celebrated at the Game Farm in 1978 and continued each year until it was moved to the Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park in 1996.

A mobile wildlife exhibit stationed at the Game Farm traversed the state from 1974 to 1990, allowing nearly 250,000 residents to catch a glimpse of its unique tenants. Ironically, the original purpose of raising wildlife at the Game Farm had been overshadowed by its popularity as a tourist attraction.

Half a century after its creation, the DNR Wildlife Resources Section decided to replace the antiquated wildlife facilities and exhibits. In 1984, monies from the Land and Water Conservation Fund of the U.S. Department of Interior were used to begin construction on new exhibits. A new facility was dedicated in September 1986 and renamed the West Virginia State Wildlife Center.

For more information:

Call (304) 924-6211 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

List of Events

Groundhog Day – February 2, 2015

Join us Monday, February 2, 2015 at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center for the 37th Annual Groundhog Day Celebration. Our resident weather prognosticator, French Creek Freddie will emerge from his den at 10:00 a.m.  According to legend, if he sees his shadow, we'll have six more weeks of winter.  If Freddie doesn't see his shadow, it's an early spring!

We'll start the ceremonies around 9:30 a.m.  After Freddie does his predicting, we'll have our Wood Chuckin' contest with prizes for different age groups.  Our French Creek Freddie mascot will be on hand so bring your camera and get your picture taken with a 7' 8" Top-hat wearin' Groundhog.

There is no charge for this event.  Visitors are invited to tour the rest of the facility. We'll have hot chocolate and cookies in the Gift Shop after the festivities.

Hooked On Fishing, Not On Drugs – March 28 - 29, 2015

We will be set up in the Elkins High School gym with other agencies and businesses to support the HOFNOD of Randolph County.  The purpose of HOFNOD is to promote an anti-drug and slcohol message by promoting outdoor experiences as a positive alternative.  Along with passing out promo items and Wildlife literature, French Creek Freddie will make an appearance.

Opening – April 1, 2015

Our season begins on April 1 and runs through October 31.  We've spent the last few months doing maintenance and sprucing things up just to get ready for your visit.  Our pavilion will be available to reserve for your picnic, birthday party, or group visit.  Our hours are 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and we are open seven days a week, including weekends and holidays.

We will begin to charge admission again at this time.  Adults are $3 and children 3 – 15 are $1.50.  Group rates are available.  Contact our office at 304-924-6211 Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. for more information.

West Virginia Strawberry Festival – May 14, 2015

Our mascot will be walking down Strawberry Lane shaking hands and passing out candy during the Junior Royalty Parade.

West Virginia Day – June 20, 2015

We are still in the planning stages for this event.  We'll let you know when things develop.

Spooky Night Tours – October 23 & 24, 2015

We had so much fun and such a great turnout for our 2014 Spooky Night Tours, we're going to do it again!  We are in the early planning stages but a few things we're sure of.   Hayrides have been a huge hit in the past and we doing them again.  Our guided tours of the animal exhibits start  every 5-7  minutes starting 7:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m.   Last year was the first year for our maze and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  We're planning to have the maze again this year.

We welcome your group, just call the office at least one week in advance so we can prepare for your visit and ensure things run smoothly for you.  The office is open Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  You can reach us by calling 304-924-6211.

Regular admission fees apply.

Date and times are subject to change as we continue to plan for this event.

Maps

Click on image to download PDF map.

Wildlife Center Map

GPS Coordinates:

N 38 51’ 28.6”
W 80 18’ 38.7”

 

 


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