Habitat mowing at Wildwood Park & Zoo addressed
MARSHFIELD — During the summer months, the grass and weeds in the habitats on the Large Animal Drive got unseasonably high. With the humid weather and plentiful sunshine, the abundant vegetation growth raised concerns with the visiting public.
“Visitors to the zoo were asking volunteers, ‘Why aren’t the pastures being cut? There are really high thistles and weeds in the pastures,’” said Wildwood Zoological Society President Tom Buttke.
Wildwood zookeeper Steve Burns said that though the foliage was unusually high, this was normal practice and procedure in the park.
“We do not begin to mow our pastures until July 1 of every year,” said Burns. “This is a choice that we make to provide better habitat for ground nesting bird species. Many of the bird species that benefit from delayed mowing operations are in decline.
“I believe that Wildwood Zoo serves as more than just a place to view animals. We are the primary source for professional information regarding natural resource management in Marshfield. This small practice is an excellent way for us to use our platform as wildlife educators to teach people conservation principles.”
In addition, Burns added that there is a harmonizing aspect between providing what is best for nature and what is best for the viewing public.
“This is a hard line to walk. Our animals deserve the option to take shelter from public viewing, warm temperatures, bugs, etc., when they feel it necessary,” added Burns. “Taller grass provides that. Our patrons want to see every animal we have on every visit they make. Tall grass can prevent that.”