The Maine Wildlife Park in Gray, owned and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, saw its best season ever in 2007 with more than 108,000 visits and close to $590,000 in total revenue.
This represents a 12.9 percent increase in visitations and a 31.3 percent increase in total revenue over 2006.
“Maine residents and out-of-state tourists are drawn to our special events and our wildlife and conservation education programming for children,” said Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Natural Science Educator Lisa Kane. “Superintendant Curtis Johnson, the park’s staff and volunteers look forward to welcoming them again this year, and we invite newcomers to come and learn more about Maine’s wildlife.”
Kane said good weather, too, played a large part in the successful season, as well as diversified advertising and public relations efforts. Visitors from Germany, England, Bulgaria, Australia, Hungary and Japan were recorded, along with those from several Canadian provinces and dozens of U.S. cities and states.
The Maine Wildlife Park, located off of Route 26 in Gray, is expected to open in mid-April, weather permitting. This week, classroom teachers will receive brochures about 2008 school programs and tours in the mail. This popular schedule is also available on the park’s website, www.mainewildlifepark.com.
Last year, special events offered each Saturday throughout the summer generated high numbers of visitors. Some of the most noteworthy events included the third annual Native American “Honor Animals” Pow Wow, which drew close to 4,000 visitors over two days; the annual Fish and Wildlife Open House, which featured free admission and brought close to 2,000 visitors in a single day; and the popular Halloween Night Hike, which attracted almost 900 costume-wearing families, who enjoyed a three-hour nighttime park visit with special Halloween exhibits, displays, contests and prizes.
Many of the same events are planned this year, as well as some new ones. The Park Nature store doubled its net revenue between 2006 and 2007. It offers a variety of wildlife and nature-themed merchandise that is both appealing and affordable to visitors.
At the Maine Wildlife Park, visitors can see more than 25 species of Maine wildlife, including moose, bald eagles, owls, black bear, hawks, fisher, mountain lions, deer, wild turkeys and six species of native turtles.
Also, visitors can:
• Walk the Tree Trail, where you can read descriptions of a variety of Maine trees within the park, see how much wood is in a cord, and find out how to use a Biltmore stick to measure tree height.
• Feed the fish at the Dry Mills Hatchery.
• Wander the Game Trail, which features camouflaged silhouettes of 13 different animals. See how many you can spot!
• Follow the Wetland Trails, where fish, birds and turtles are sometimes visible; and more 3-D wildlife models are hiding for you to find!
• Visit the Maine Warden Service museum and the Snack Shack.
Not enough? Bask in our wildlife and flower gardens tended by our generous volunteers; take a guided tour; attend a wildlife program or make animal tracks in the Visitor Center sandbox.
The Maine Wildlife Park is open daily mid-April through Nov. 11, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with visitors allowed to stay until 6 p.m. There are picnic and grilling areas available. Admission fees. Call 657-4977 for more information, or visit the Web site at www.mainewildlifepark.com.