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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 $4.00
  Children 6-15 $2.00
  Under 6 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, 2016

Join us on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center for the 39th 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 will be an early spring!

Festivities will start around 9:30 a.m. at the Amphitheater. The band "Enny Corner" will perform a few songs, including "French Creek Freddie", which pays homage to the Mountain State's most famous rodent.  After Freddie gives his forecast, we'll have a "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 stay and tour the facility. We'll have hot chocolate and cookies in the Gift Shop immediately following Freddie's forecast!

National Hiking Trails Day – June 4, 2016

Come hike the Old Oak Trail. This intermediate-level trail winds through a mature hardwood forest below the paved exhibit loop.  We'll have a fire starting demonstration, a forester that will show you which plants are edible and which ones to avoid, and our very own Mountain Man will be present at the weather shelter near our pond. Come and see a side of the Wildlife Center that you may not have been aware of.

We will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and regular admission fees will apply. 

West Virginia Day – June 20, 2016

This year's celebration will feature a Mobile Aquarium.  This will provide a unique opportunity to view a variety of fish species that are native to West Virginia. We will have a fish biologist on site, and we'll also have opportunities for our visitors to learn about fish identification. Kids in attendance will have an opportunity to learn how to cast a fishing pole. We'll be serving cake in honor of the State's birthday so come and celebrate with us!  

Rendezvous/Living History Encampment – August 6 & 7, 2016

Imagine being able to walk through 150 years of American history. A new event at the Wildlife Center, a camp-style Rendezvous, will make this a reality in 2016. Our very own Mountain Man and his "Living History" demonstration was a huge hit during the summer of 2015. We're going to expand on this educational theme and add reenactors from a multitude of time periods, spanning from Pre-Colonial times through the Civil War era.

Regular admission fees will apply for this two day event.

Hayrides – October 14 & 15, 2016

Many of our visitors have told us that they enjoy the hayrides that we offer during Spooky Night Tours but they don't want to stay for the guided tours after dark. Therefore, we decided to offer a new Friday and Saturday evening event featuring hayrides only. Hayrides will start at 4:30 p.m. and will last until 7:00 p.m or dark, whichever comes first. 

Spooky Night Tours – October 21 & 22, 2016

This year will mark the 6th time that we have offered our family-friendly Spooky Night Tours, which feature hayrides, guided tours, and other activities. We broke attendance records once again in 2015, and we have already started to plan this event. Hayrides will start at 4:30 p.m. and will last until approximately 7:00 p.m.  At this time, we'll clear the tractors out of the way and start our guided walking tours of the animal exhibits. We're also planning to have a maze again this year but with some changes.

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

Regular admission fees apply. Dates and times are subject to change as we continue to plan our events.

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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