Wildlife Expo provides entertainment, competition, education

Johnny Morgan  |  9/20/2017 3:06:42 PM

(09/20/17) CLINTON, La. — Learning about the world of wildlife highlighted the Feliciana Wildlife Expo held at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station on Sept. 16.

The one-day event featured a number of presentations and demonstrations to show what happens at the research station located just south of Clinton.

The expo was an opportunity to get the community involved in the activities at the station, said Lane Foil, who holds the Pennington Chair for Wildlife Research in the AgCenter.

“We were approached by the East Feliciana Parish Tourism Commission to bring the community in to see what we do and to get the 4-H kids involved in some fun and educational activities,” he said.

The day began with an early-bird nature walk and featured presentations at Bug World, Wildlife and Conservation World and Pig World.

At Bug World, participants learned about honeybees, snakes, 4-H shooting sports program, 4-H Youth Wetlands program, forestry and mammals.

The Wildlife and Conservation World activity featured information on food plots for deer, falconry and deer netting.

At Pig World, presenters discussed feral pig trapping and the outlook, diseases of feral pigs, like brucellosis, and a demonstration of proper processing of feral pigs for meat.

The event showed off the uniqueness of the station as a place for the community to learn about wildlife, said Phil Elzer, AgCenter associate vice president for animal sciences and natural resources.

“We are fortunate to have a number of state and local organizations involved to make this event not only educational, but also a family-friendly fun event,” he said.

Glen Gentry, the resident coordinator of the station, gave a history of the research station and an overview of the work he is doing in developing a toxicant to decrease the numbers of the invasive feral pigs.

In discussing the population explosion, he said, “These animals normally have about six pigs per litter, and all eight survive.”

Gentry said research at the station includes white-tailed deer, red deer and feral pigs.

One of the highlights of the event was Terry Vandeventer's Living Reptile Museum, which is a traveling educational program that introduces audiences to the world of snakes.

“Few people have neutral feelings when it concerns snakes,” he said. “We love them, and we hate them. We fear them, yet we are drawn to them through our curiosity and fascination.”

Vandeventer is an expert in the field of herpetology and presents positive, factual material about snakes. He displayed live specimens, including the venomous copperhead and cottonmouth moccasin.

Paul Davidson, of the East Feliciana Tourism Commission and one of the planners of the event, said he wanted to see something in the parish that would get the community involved and show off the work that is being done at the research station.

“I see this event as a great way to help build community,” Davidson said. “I worked for the AgCenter back in the 70s and fell in love with this research station.”

Experience prompted him to look for a way to create an event that could be annual in nature and something that could show off the natural heritage of the area, Davidson said.

Elzer said the expo will not take the place of the field days that are held at the station but would be an opportunity to get the community more involved in the station.

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Manuel “Boo” Persica, LSU AgCenter meats lab manager, shows various cuts of meat from feral pigs at the Feliciana Wildlife Expo held at the AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton on Sept. 16. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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Youth prepare to test their archery skills during the 4-H Shooting Sports event that was part of the Feliciana Wildlife Expo at the LSU AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton on Sept. 16. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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Terry Vandeventer, an expert in the field of herpetology and owner of the Living Reptile Museum in Mississippi, shows off a copperhead snake at the Feliciana Wildlife Expo at the AgCenter Bob R. Jones- Idlewild Research Station near Clinton on Sept. 16. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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Falconers Tom and Jennifer Coulson discuss with Paul Davidson, of the East Feliciana Parish Tourism Commission, how they use birds of prey to hunt rabbits, squirrels and ducks. They provided demonstrations at the Feliciana Wildlife Expo at the AgCenter Bob R. Jones-Idlewild Research Station near Clinton on Sept. 16. (Photo by Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter)

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