FRENCH CREEK – What has nearly 30 different species of native and introduced West Virginia wildlife, its very own prognosticator, interpretive signs to learn about those native and introduces species and a new wildlife biologist?
Of course, it is the West Virginia State Wildlife Center, located at French Creek and recently the center welcomed new wildlife biologist Trevor Moore, who is taking on the role of former wildlife biologist Tyler Evans who the left center last year.
Moore said he moved his family from the western U.S. states of Utah and Idaho to West Virginia to take the job at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center because he wanted to get into wildlife conservation. He is looking forward to all that West Virginia offers – including miles of hiking, lots of hunting and great skiing locations during the winter months.
“In Utah, we enjoyed hunting, hiking and skiing,” Moore told My Buckhannon during a recent interview. “I also really enjoy electronics and tinkering. I have built several computers and I like repairing cellphones and repurposing old laptops.”
Moore said the possibilities that go hand-in-hand with learning and working with animals was another factor that drew him and his family to the mountains of West Virginia.
“I have been really enthralled with wildlife zoos and captive animals and exotic animals as well,” Moore said. “This sounded like it would be a perfect blend of those. I get to work with all of the animals at the Wildlife Center and I get a lot of training in how to care for those animals.”
Moore said taking care of captive animals and wild populations is quite different.
“While here at French Creek, I will get to work with the district biologists completing mass surveys, big buck scoring, deer surveys and all sorts of surveys for the populations. That was one of the things that drew me to West Virginia – it is a blending of two interests in my life,” he said.
While growing up, Moore said he was always enthralled with animals.
“I wanted to be the next crocodile hunter – a Steve Irwin kind of guy,” he said. “I love teaching people about animals and hopefully, getting them enthused with nature as much as I am. I always knew I wanted to work with animals, but I was not sure in what capacity.”
Moore said he went to school in Utah where he studied biology with an emphasis in zoology and a chemistry minor.
“I met my wife in Utah and after we married, we traveled quite a bit,” Moore said. “I taught English in South Korea. From there, we went to Winnipeg, Canada where I started my graduate work with bats and the fungal disease white-nose syndrome.”
After Canada, the Moores moved back to Utah and Idaho. Eventually, they landed in Kansas where he worked with Pheasants Forever.
“At Pheasants Forever I worked with farmers and their agricultural practices while implementing conservation practices,” he said. “After that, we moved to West Virginia.”
While employed at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center, Moore said he has some great ideas.
“I would love to put in a great large, enclosed aquarium at the center,” Moore said, adding a lot of his colleagues would love to see that happen as well. “That is a big multi-million-dollar project that I am not sure could come to fruition unless we could secure some large grants.”
Moore said some of the smaller things he would like to do to enhance the center include putting up new fencing and placing new signs.
“Some of our signs are broken or out of date,” he said. “I have talked about the plexiglass needing buffed out.”
The West Virginia State Wildlife Center is home to nearly 30 native and introduced animal species and is currently open seven days a week until March 31. The hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is currently free. Moore said season begins again April 1 and said the best way folks can enjoy the center is to purchase a season membership.
“Beginning in April we charge for admission and people can purchase a season membership,” Moore said. “These season passes are great and I would suggest doing that.”
Moore said they will monitor the COVID-19 situation, but pending that, they hope to once again be able to offer big events in 2021.
“Groundhog Day this year was very different this year, but we are working on Rendezvous Days where folks can learn about history through the years and hopefully, we can have our big events in June and July – however I cannot tell you anything about those yet,” Moore said.
Moore suggests everyone check out the West Virginia State Wildlife Center Facebook page and website to keep up with any upcoming events. Additional information is available by calling the center at 304-924-6211 or online at wvdnr.gov/wildlife/wildlifecenter.shtm.