Local students take a walk on the wild side

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2006

Children in Demopolis may know more about local wildlife now than their parents do thanks to the summer reading program at the Demopolis Public Library.

Tuesday afternoon Brandon Smith from the area Corps of Engineers made a special appearance to present a slideshow on Demopolis’ native areas.

“We’ve always done an interpretive program with the Corps on daily basis for about six years,” Smith said. “So, when were asked to come to the library program we already had a presentation.”

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Although it means naptime for most children, the approximately 20 children were wide awake while sitting in a dimly lit room on the second floor of the library.

The group was especially excited to learn specifics about local animals and listen to special sound effects, courtesy of nature itself.

By the end of the program, most of the children left the library knowing the difference between drakes and mallards, the average weight of a wild turkey, the difference between doe and buck tracks and which snakes are poisonous.

“Venomous snakes have cat-like pupils and triangular heads,” Smith told the children. “Non-venomous ones have round pupils. But that doesn’t mean you can go walking up to any snake with round pupils, they can still bite.”

Smith also discussed extinction and animal control with the children, by breaking the terms and ideas down into simpler terms.

After explaining to the crowd that he enjoys hunting, he also made sure the children understood how important it is not to exceed the set hunting limits.

“If the law says I can only shoot five deer, I am only going to shoot five. Hunting is a part of conservation. If we don’t hunt, areas will become overpopulated,” Smith said. “It’s like if I put a piece of pie in the middle of the group, that one piece wouldn’t last for long. But if I put a piece of pie there and killed everyone except for two of you, the pie would go a long way.”

Although the thought would be a bit morbid for most, the children understood the idea and giggled at the thought of fighting for a piece of pie in order to survive.

The Corps of Engineers will be back to discuss water safety with children of all ages at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 15.

In the meanwhile, parents can take a trip to the library today at 3:15 to enjoy the company real live exotic animals as part of the summer’s critter show.

For more information on the Demopolis Summer Reading Program, call 289-1595.