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Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor
Frank Jezioro, Director

News Release: January 30, 2014

Facebook: WV Commerce - State Parks

Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer (304) 957-9365 hoy.r.murphy@wv.gov

Contact:

Robert Silvester, District 3 Game Biologist 304-924-6211 Rob.A.Silvester@wv.gov


Spend Groundhog Day with French Creek Freddie at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center Feb. 2, 2014 36th Anniversary Celebration Planned

FRENCH CREEK, W.Va. - For the 36th year, French Creek Freddie, the state's official weather prognosticating groundhog, will be the star of the show Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, at the West Virginia Wildlife Center at French Creek in Upshur County. Each Groundhog Day, Wildlife Center staff awakens the grumpy rodent and brings him out of his winter hibernation hole to allow him to look for his shadow and predict the severity of the remaining six weeks of winter.

He's usually right, but after making his forecast before an audience of hundreds of groundhog fans, including news media from around the state, he is more than happy to return to the warmth of his bed.

"Everyone is invited to join in the fun of Groundhog Day at the Wildlife Center and take a walking tour of the native wildlife on display," said Rob Silvester, District 3 wildlife biologist. "Since Groundhog Day falls on a Sunday this year, it's a perfect time to bring out the whole family."

Festivities will begin at 9:30 a.m. Previously announced Appalachian storytellers "Granny Sue" and Judi Tarowsky will be unable to attend, but Wildlife Center staff are preparing other fun activities prior to wake-up time with Freddie at 10 a.m.

Following Freddie's weather prognostication, the second annual Woodchuckin' Contest will start at 10:30 a.m. A number of exhibitors will be in the Gift Shop including a potter, the Sheepherders Association and a blacksmith. Guests can enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and children will have activity sheets to take home.
The West Virginia Wildlife Center is a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced wildlife. Operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section, the Wildlife Center is dedicated to presenting visitors a realistic and factual understanding of West Virginia's wildlife.

Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible, 1.25-mile-long interpretive trail through a mature hardwood forest. Species at the facility include whitetail deer, black bear, wild turkey, and formerly native species that no longer live in the state, including elk, bison and mountain lions. The spacious enclosures allow the animals to interact with their environment and exhibit more natural behavior patterns. Interpretive signs help visitors learn more about each animal's life history, biology and its relationship with humans.

The West Virginia 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. 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.

Call 304-924-6211 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit online at www.wvdnr.gov/wildlife/wildlifecenter.shtm.

**DNR**

Photo of French Creek Freddie provided by West Virginia Department of Commerce
Photo of French Creek Freddie provided by West Virginia Department of Commerce