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Wildlife Center still dealing with Sandy damages

December 15, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

The West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek announced the loss of its golden eagle to Superstorm Sandy, and officials estimated storm damages to possibly exceed $60,000.

Gene Thorn, a wildlife biologist in charge of the WVSWC, said the 4- or 5-year-old golden eagle called the wildlife center home for about a year. The storm damaged the habitats of other animals at the center.

"We got every mammal contained," Thorn said. "It's an inconvenience because a lot of them had to go into holding pens until we get the pens restored, but we dealt with that."

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
The racoon exhibit, which suffered some damage from Superstorm Sandy, awaits repairs this winter before it can once again be home to racoons at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek.

A $60,000 estimate was calculated for the fencing required to repair the large animal enclosures. Thorn said other damages also were incurred with netting and smaller items.

"It's going to be a pretty substantial amount when we total up all the damages," Thorn said.

The clean-up process began immediately. Thorn said officials didn't wait for the storm to end before the cleaning began. Although the wildlife center had a quick beginning as far as cleaning up after the storm, the necessary repairs have not yet began for the fencing.

Thorn said it would take four to six weeks to acquire the fencing because of state purchasing procedures. After a repair company can proceed, the project could span several months.

"We did get emergency status on that, so it's a little easier. But we still have to go through a procedure," Thorn said. "Our guys did what they could with taking the netting off and getting it ready and everything."

Thorn said the goal is to be finished with the repairs in time for the wildlife center's official opening on April 1.

"Our goal is to have everything back up and running by that time," Thorn said, "In the meantime, the wildlife center is open for walking other than when we get the fence companies in here. We'll have to close the loop for the time that they're doing their work."

Winter hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Once the fence companies begin working, those hours become tentative.

"Superstorm Sandy really slammed us, and we're not closed, but not open to business like we would normally be during the rebuild of the enclosures," Thorn said. "It's a temporary thing. Once we get past this, everything will be back to normal."



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