Raptors and snakes to visit Taos Youth and Family today


An exciting and educational program involving snakes and raptors is coming to Taos. The New Mexico Wildlife Center Tour will be held at the Taos Youth and Family Center on Friday (June 1) from 1-2 p.m.

The tour is free of charge and is for audiences of all ages. It is the mission of the New Mexico Wildlife Center to conserve and restore native wildlife and their habitats through action-oriented education, promotion of public awareness, strategic partnerships and responsible wildlife rehabilitation.

According to its website, NMWC is a nonprofit organization, operating through the generosity of private and corporate donors and with the support of a few foundations and granting entities. NMWC receives limited funding from the State of New Mexico (typically a grant that makes up no more than 2 percent of the organization's budget).

NMWC employs a small staff of nine full and part-time employees, but it would not function without the help of over 75 volunteers who regularly dedicate their time, talent and resources to this cause. In addition to the on-site volunteers, who do everything from education programs for schools to cleaning wildlife mews to feeding education animals, the center has a network of transporters who bring animals to residents from every corner of the state.

The NMWC was founded in 1986 by Kathleen Ramsay. Originally started to rehabilitate birds, the organization evolved to treat all species of wildlife in New Mexico. As NMWC's reputation grew and the world awakened to the serious threats facing wildlife and wild habitats, it became clear that saving the animals was not enough. Work to preserve the habitats in which they thrive was also needed. This has been accomplished by educating the human inhabitants of New Mexico by providing information and, more effective, by providing wildlife experiences for them.

The belief is when people experience wildlife, they will be compelled to understand it. When they understand it, they will value it. When they value it, they will protect it.

In 2004, through a number of fortuitous events and donor generosity, most notably a bequest from a longtime volunteer and supporter, Pat Insley, New Mexico Wildlife Center was able to acquire a 20-acre parcel just south of Española that was owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management. This is now the setting for the center and contains a wildlife hospital and rehabilitation facility as well as educational space for schools and other groups and a "Wild Walk," exhibiting over 35 animals that could not be released into the wild.

At the New Mexico Wildlife Center, visitors have an opportunity to see the wild animals endemic to New Mexico from just feet away. They may have an interpretive guide that can explain the circumstances that brought the animal to the center, the reason it could not be released, the habitat it requires and the environmental challenges its species faces.

This is a Taos Youth and Family Center and town of Taos community event. For more information, call Judy Esquibel at (575) 751-2037 or contact her via e-mail at jesquibel@taosgov.com.