Aviva Yasgur of the Land Between the Lakes Nature Station came after school Friday afternoon to talk to them about wildlife conservation.
Linda Lindsey-Stephens, a science teacher at the high school and leader of the Environmental Science Club, said one of the big reasons for Yasgur’s visit was to talk to the students about the importance of wildlife conservation.
This is the second year that Yasgur has talked to the Environmental Science Club, and twice as many students came this year as did last year, said Stephens.
Yasgur talked about some of the different species that have been have been threatened by hunting, loss of habitat, pollution and other factors and about the ways that some of them have been brought back from the brink. She also mentioned some species that are still on the brink and a few that have gone extinct.
“Some animals have become really rare, like the California condor,” Yasgur said.
One of the species Yasgur talked about was the bald eagle. Largely because of DDT runoff, at one point there were only 400 mating pairs in the continental United States, but a ban on DDT, a popular pesticide, was enacted, and now there are 10,000 mating pairs in the same area, she said.
The wild turkey was almost extinct at one point due to unregulated hunting, but hunting regulations were enacted and there were reintroduction and habitat protection efforts, and it too has made a comeback, said Yasgur.
The American alligator was to a large degree hunted specifically for its skin, which was made into boots, purses and other items, and now there are roughly 1 million alligators in the states that border the Gulf of Mexico, she said.
Others, like the dodo bird and the Carolina parakeet, went extinct and cannot be brought back. The dodo bird lived only on a small island and were hunted to extinction, and the Carolina parakeet lived primarily in North and South Carolina, and they too were hunted to extinction, she said.
Afterwards, Yasgur showed the students a screech owl, a pine snake and a box turtle. The students were allowed to handle the pine snake, which was docile and only seemed curious about its surroundings. Many of the students chose to handle it and some were surprised at how soft its skin is.
While the students weren’t allowed to handled the screech owl, Yasgur handed them the wing from a larger owl, as she did last year. Owl wings make less of a sound than the wings of other birds of prey, allowing them to hunt stealthily, she said.
The Nature Station, Yasgur said, is basically an educational center about flora and fauna native to Kentucky, and it has local specimens and gardens and plants as well. It is located in Land Between the Lakes.
Stephens said the Environmental Club also takes trips to places like Land Between the Lakes, the recycling center and the city’s sanitation plant.