Nature Station seeks help naming animals

The bald eagle will be the first of many animal ambassadors to be named at the Woodlands Nature Station inside Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

The Woodlands Nature Station at Land between the Lakes National Recreation Area asks for the public's help in naming its animal ambassadors. Over the next year, with the kickoff on July 4 with the bald eagle, the Nature Station will begin to name each of its animal ambassadors.

"The educational animals at the Nature Station are native to the region and have been orphaned, injured, or confiscated by law enforcement and can no longer be released into the wild as their survival would be very poor," says John Pollpeter, lead naturalist, Friends of Land Between the Lakes. "It has been a long-standing policy to not name the animals, as we always wanted the kids that visit to associate them as wild animals and not pets."

Some recent research shows that nature centers and zoos can create stronger connections between people and wildlife by naming their animals. The goal is to reconnect with the outdoors and the creatures that live in our neighborhoods and farms. The 37-year-old plus bald eagle came to Nature Station in 1987. She was confiscated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from a person who was raising bald eagles for release incorrectly, thus she never learned the critical skills to survive and became imprinted. Eagles can live to 50 years in captivity.

The animal naming campaign started with the resident bald eagle on July 4, with its name to be revealed July 20 - the t anniversary of the moon landing, where the famous phrase "the Eagle has landed" was the signature phrase of that monumental moment. Over the following year, Nature Station will name the female red wolf in October, groundhog in February, bobcat or "wildcat" during March Madness, and snapping turtles next July.

A separate campaign to name additional animals will be conducted with schools and other groups that attend nature programs at the Nature Station in the upcoming school field trip season.

If you are interested in helping to name the bald eagle and other Nature Station animal ambassadors, go to the Woodlands Nature Station or Friends of Land Between the Lakes Facebook pages to give your name suggestions, or later vote from a list of staff-selected favorites. Also, voting booths will be at the Golden Pond Visitor Center and Woodlands Nature station until July 19. The Nature Station will pick five favorites and have the public make the final vote by July 19.

The Nature Station hosts 55 species of rescued wildlife, giving the animals a forever home, while the animals help teach the public the importance of wildlife in our daily lives.