WILMINGTON — Steve and Wendy Hall operate the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center — tucked deep in the woods along the banks of the AuSable River — which is home to a mile-long nature trail, more than a dozen birds of prey including red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, great horned owls and turkey vultures, and two wolves, named Zeebie and Cree.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 4 they will open their doors to share these incredible animals and invite the public to participate in a day of education focused on building environmental awareness during the third annual Wildlife Habitat Awareness Day.
The event will also bring representatives from North Country Wildcare, the Nature Conservancy, the AuSable River Association, the Wild Center and others to present displays and give lectures to share their knowledge of the natural world.
“It’s a coalition of groups who want to conserve and practice responsible caring for the Earth,” said Wendy, who has federal licenses for wildlife rehabilitation and education. “We’re trying to network with as many people from the area as possible.”
Wendy said there will be a number of talks throughout the day including topics such as organic gardening and permaculture, alternative energy and conservation, soil erosion and the effects of development on rivers, as well as interpretive nature walks and bird demonstrations.
“We feel that it’s important to give people the opportunity to learn about the animals here as indicator species for larger environmental problems,” Wendy said. “It’s a great way to point out how everything is connected.”
Steve Hall, who builds bird enclosures and gives educational lectures, said he is tired of people thinking about nature and environmental issues in political terms.
“It’s not about whether you’re conservative or liberal, it’s about micro and macro connections (in the environment),” he said. “Nature is a finely balanced system you shouldn’t mess with.”
Steve said, above all, he is a believer in data, often using facts and real-life examples to illustrate how delicately balanced nature is.
“Here’s a good one,” he said in a recent phone interview. “Did you know that when wolves were reinstated into Yellowstone National Park, trout direct beneficiaries?”
Steve went on to explain the link. He said before grey wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone earlier this year, herds of elk would graze along major waterways, which caused erosion, destroyed shade-providing shrubs and, in turn, lowered the river’s water level.
“Trout, of course, like deep cool water,” Steve said. “But when the wolves came back, elk thought twice about hanging out by the river, and as a result the shrubbery rebounded. ...This meant more shade, colder water and more trout.”
Having a large enclosure with two adult wolves has led Steve to highlight how misunderstood they are.
“Wolves and also bears are really misunderstood animals,” he said. “They’re often misrepresented in the media and it’s one of the things we try to correct here.”
Wendy said interns from Paul Smith’s College will help out during the day’s event by leading interpretive nature walks, and preparing salads for visitors made entirely from edible plants on the property.
“These animals are just wonderful,” she said. “As calm and as sweet as can be.”
Adirondack Wildlife Refuge & Rehabilitation Center is located at 977 Springfield Road in Wilmington. For more information, contact Wendy at 518-946-2428 or visit www.adirondackwildlife.org.
Wendy Hall with one of the birds the wildlife center has been rehabilitating.