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Outdoors Franklin photographer keynote speaker at Mountain Wildlife Days

Rob Gudger will bring his wolves in a program dedicated to better understanding of wolves’ role in the animal kingdom.Event to be held at the Sapphire Valley Resort

The 10th annual Mountain Wildlife Days, July 19-20 at the Sapphire Valley Resort, promises something for everyone in getting better acquainted with the creatures and biodiversity with which we share this wonderful corner of North Carolina. “Wild Lives and Wild Places” is a fitting name for this year’s program, as it includes everything from live animal presentations to guided hikes, capped off by an evening program featuring Bill Lea and his incredible nature photography.

The major highlight of the two-day event will be Friday evening, July 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Sapphire Valley Resort Community Center. “An Evening with Bill Lea and His Inspiring Nature Photography” is a special tribute and presentation led by Lea, one of Western North Carolina’s most dedicated wildlife advocates and world class nature photographers. The program will focus on some of Lea’s outstanding black bear and other wildlife photographs, exceptional images highlighting Cades Coves and other locations in the Great Smoky Mountains, along with other extraordinary scenes found in the beauty of the natural world. His photographs, commentary and stories will be set to a musical backdrop provided by Bryan Heller.

Friday’s activities offer a wide variety of programs for all levels of interest including: A morning handicapaccessible field trip to Gorges State Park’s new Visitor Center led by Park Ranger Kevin Bischof; a Headwaters Trail hike in High Hampton led by Gary Turnley; and a High Falls Trail hike near Lake Glenville led by Willie Dodds. At 3 p.m., Wendy Henkel of the Sapphire Valley Resort staff will present a program at the SV Community Center on better understanding our black bear neighbors. Specifics can be obtained by calling (828)743-7663.

Photo by Bill LeaSaturday activities start at 8 a.m. at the Cashiers Community Center with a “get acquainted with our birds” walk provided by the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society.

At 10 a.m., wildlife naturalist Pete Kipp will be sharing his insights on birds of prey with emphasis on his special work with peregrine falcons.

Other Saturday programs will include Rob Gudger’s very popular “live wolves” presentation, dedicated to achieving a better understanding of wolves’ role in the animal kingdom.

Steve O’Neil will be on the schedule with his entertaining close up look at reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. The featured presentation on Saturday will be “Wildlife Wonders” showcasing some unique animals from the North Georgia Zoo.

In an effort to provide “wildlife and outdoor education” opportunities throughout the year, a silent auction will be held with all proceeds going to Mountain Wildlife Days’ Western North Carolina Wildlife Outreach. The Wildlife Education auction items will go on display at 7 p.m. prior to Bill Lea’s presentation on Friday evening at the SV Community Center with bidding throughout the day on Saturday.

Mountain Wildlife Days is co-sponsored by the Sapphire Valley Resort and financially supported by sponsors and “friends of wildlife.” For more information and a detailed schedule of events, visit the Sapphire Valley Resort’s Community Center or call (828)743-7663. 

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