Guided hikes and nature programs at Mountain Wildlife Days

Get up close and personal with wild things and wild places at the annual Mountain Wildlife Days held at Sapphire Valley Community Center July 15 and 16.

The weekend festivities are hosted by regional conservation group Wild South and are designed to introduce people to the wonders of nature and inspire a sense of responsibility to the natural world by directly connecting them with wildlife.

The speakers for Saturday’s line-up include:

• Freeman Owle, one of this year’s new presenters, who will share insights on the value the Cherokee place on wild lives and wild places — not only in the past, but in today’s society.

• Kate Marshall will share her experiences and award-winning DVDs featuring unique filming of black bears. Her video will show close-ups of bears and cubs in their natural habitat, and she’ll discuss some of the modern dilemmas bears face. She also will encourage participants to become “bear smart,” as part of an initiative currently under way that is sponsored by the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance.  

• Rob Gudger, a very popular presenter at Mountain Wildlife Days, will be back with his wolves. Gudger will share a new program designed to promote a better understanding of wolves, and the need to be compassionate advocates in support of our most misunderstood animal.  

• Doris Mager, often called the “Eagle Lady,” will bring an assortment of her birds of prey to perform in a flying exhibition. During the up-close look at her birds, Doris will stress the importance of being advocates for raptors, and speak to their roles in our natural world.   

• Steve O’Neill, “Wildlife Warrior” from the Earthshine Lodge, will bring small mammals and reptiles for a program designed to build compassion and inspire the protection of these wild creatures. 

On Friday, experts will lead a moderate guided hike in Panthertown and a more challenging hike to the Devil’s Courthouse on Whiteside Mountain. Cynthia Strain of Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance and the local Audubon Society will lead a bird watching hike. To register for any of the hikes, call 828.743.7663.

Friday evening, “Creation Calls” will be presented at the Sapphire Valley Community Center with live music by the Judy Felts Trio. Bill Lea will accompany the music with photographic images of landscapes and wildlife, and a puppet team from Cashiers Baptist Church will perform.

Tickets for “Creation Calls” are $12 for adults. Saturday’s events are $7 for the entire day. Children accompanied by adults are admitted free to all events.

828.743.7663 or

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