HARTVILLE Stark Parks’ Wildlife Conservation Center has a temporary home in Hartville’s Fitchner Park, located 12833 Market Ave.
The Conservation Center said goodbye to its home at 800 Genoa Ave. NW in Perry Township for the next year while it undergoes construction.
Caitlin Decker, marketing assistant for Stark Parks, said the proposed renovations for the center are long overdue. The Wildlife Conservation Center has been at its Perry location since C.P. "Pitt" Sanders donated it in 1986.
"The center right now is too small," Decker said. "The conditions aren’t right. But this has been a long time coming, and we’re going to need a brand new facility that’s going to better serve the injured wildlife in Stark County."
Stephon Echague, supervisor of animal care, said the new Wildlife Center will have a number of new features including more space, which will allow the center to have a separate exam room and rehabilitation rooms for the animals.
"We have outgrown this area," Echague said. "We have cages stacked on top of each other, safely of course, but with the new facility they’ll have their own areas. For example, the mammals will have a mammal recovery room. The raptors will have a raptor recovery room."
Echague said it is important for the animals to have separate rooms because it eliminates stressed caused by predator-prey visualization. While the animals have previously been covered so predators are not in sight, Echague said the animals might be able to smell a nearby predator.
A larger, enclosed exam room is another feature the renovations will bring to the center. When injured animals are first brought to the center, Echague said they’re often scared at first. Having a separate exam room can help create a calm area for the animals when they go through an exam.
"The flow of the center is going to be a lot more efficient, which we’re very excited about," Echague said.
More room at the Wildlife Center will also provide an educational opportunity for those who visit the newly renovated site after it is completed. It is expected to take between 12 and 18 months to finish the construction of the center.
A classroom will be built to allow for on-site programs, and animals, called education ambassadors, will be on display for visitors to learn from.
While the center will still be self-toured, Echague said it would be more visitor friendly, which will provide an overall better experience for visitors.
"We want to try to teach the public as much as possible so that everybody can learn to coexist because we as a human race aren’t going anywhere and neither are the animals so we have to learn how to get along," Echague said.
During construction, Decker said the temporary facility in Hartville is fully functional, and the Wildlife Conservation Center will continue taking in injured animals.
However, individuals are urged to call ahead because Stark Parks was not able to recreate what they previously had at the Perry location. The space limits them on the number of animals the center can accept, and some of the larger cages did not move to the new location.
"We want to help at as much as possible, but we will be restricted to what we have at the other facility unfortunately," Echague said. "It’s best to call the center first because a lot of times we can educate the animal over the phone."