GRAY — The Bear Bonanza on May 7 at the Maine Wildlife Park will be the kick-off event for the summer season. The festivities run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Visitors will be entertained by the park’s three resident black bears that are fully awake after a long winter’s sleep. Full-sized mounts of an Inland Fisheries and Wildlife black bear and a grizzly bear on loan from Nokomis High School will be on exhibit, as well as a 6- by 7-foot polar bear rug and other polar bear artifacts from Bowdoin college’s Peary=Macmillan Artic Museum that will be on display for the day.
Maine Wildlife Park Mascot Kennebago Bear and the Maine Forest Service’s Smokey Bear will make appearances several times for photo ‘opps’ with the kids! Smokey Bear will have a limited supply of Smokey Bear Sillybandz for children who agree to help him prevent forest fires.
The Forest Service will also have its Wildland Urban Interface Simulator set up — a new educational display that shows homeowners how to mitigate the dangers of wildfire near their residences.
The ModelTech U-Wise wildfire simulator uses simulated fire, smoke and lightning to generate scenarios showing what happens when a wildland fire occurs near a home. It also demonstrates how quickly fire can spread to homes without adequate defensible space. Using a remote control, a Forest Ranger can create a simulated lightning strike on a tree causing smoke and fire near the model house. Various moveable models, such as an oil can and barbecue grill, shows how objects can increase danger near a home.
This display is used a part of an comprehensive prevention program to demonstrate to homeowners how they can reduce the risk of a wildland fire damaging or destroying their residences, by using proper building materials and maintaining adequate defensible space.
An IFW Bear biologist will have the ‘tools of the trade’ used to manage Maine’s black bear population — the largest on the eastern seaboard.
Chain saw artist Tim Picket will carve a really tall bear from a 10 foot tall standing white pine tree trunk — right in the middle of the picnic area! Athletes from the UMaine Black Bears and the Bowdoin College Polar Bears are making appearances as well. There will be a variety of bear-related games and activities for the children.
Bring a lunch and your cameras to enjoy the bonanza of bears today!
The Maine Wildlife Park is owned and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The park exists to promote an understanding and awareness of the wildlife, conservation and habitat protection programs and projects of MDIFW.
A summer series of wildlife exhibits and demonstrations provided for our visitors are offered throughout the season at the MAINE WILDLIFE PARK, located on Route 26 in Gray.
‘Summer Wildlife Days’ are held on consecutive weekends through the summer, and are sponsored by the Friends of the Maine Wildlife Park.
A ‘Night Visit’ is also scheduled, when the park opens on a moonlight evening for a Saturday July 16. ‘All About Owls’ Night Visit with the owls of Chewonki from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The ever growing and very popular “Halloween Fest” will run on both Friday and Saturday nights this year, October 21 and 22, from 6 to 9p.m.
The park has more than 30 species of native wildlife on display, as well as wildlife gardens, nature trails, a fish hatchery and other interactive exhibits and displays. The park is open daily from April 15 through Nov. 11 from 9:30am to 4:30pm; visitors must leave the premises by 6 p.m.
Admission to the park is free for ages 3 and under; $5 ages 5-12; $7.00 for adults, and $5 for seniors. Groups of 15 or more are $3.50 per person. Family and community season passes are available.
For more information about any of these programs, call the Maine Wildlife Park at