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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, 2017

Join us Thursday, February 2, 2017 at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center for the 40th 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, we’ll have an early spring!

We’ll start the ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. in the Amphitheater.  The band “Enny Corner” will perform a few songs including their original “French Creek Freddie” song.   After Freddie makes his prediction, 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.

National Hiking Trails Day – June 3, 2017

Come hike the Old Oak Trail.  This intermediate level trail winds through the woods below the exhibit loop.  Our Mountain Man will be set up in the Weather Shelter near the pond.  Come see a side of the Wildlife Center you may have overlooked.

\We are open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and regular admission fees apply.

West Virginia Day – June 20, 2017

This year’s celebration will be “For the Birds”.  The West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center will be conducting an environmental education program at the Amphitheater.   We’ll have educational activities and crafts for the kids designed to teach them how to protect the habitats for all birds.  We’ll be serving birthday cake so come celebrate the birth of our state.  

\Rendezvous/Living History Encampment – August 5 & 6, 2017

This will be our 2nd Annual Rendezvous.  We have invited Re-enactors from Pre-Colonial Days through the Civil War era.  Imagine walking through 150 years of Living History. 

Regular admission fees apply for this two day event.

Fall Hayrides - October 13 & 14, 2017

Many of you have told us you enjoy the hayrides during Spooky Night Tours but you don’t want to stay for the guided tours after dark.  We have decided to offer a Friday and Saturday evening event featuring just the hayrides.   Come enjoy the splendor of fall at the Wildlife Center. Hayrides will start at 4:30 p.m. and will last until 7:00 p.m.  Regular admission fees apply.

Spooky Night Tours – October 20 & 21, 2017

This will mark the 7th year for this family-friendly event.  We have already started planning and building new props.  Hayrides will start at 4:30 p.m. and will last until just before 7:00 p.m.  At that time, we’ll clear the tractors out of the way and start the guided tours of the animal exhibits.   The maze will be open from 4:30 to 9:00 p.m.

We welcome your group for this event.  Please 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, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  You can reach us by calling 304-924-6211.

Regular admission fees apply.

 

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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