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Wildcat Hills Bioblitz is July 20-21

GERING, Neb. – The public is invited to help uncover the biodiversity of the Wildcat Hills during the Wildcat Hills Bioblitz. The interactive event will be Friday and Saturday, July 20-21, based at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.

Bioblitzes, such as this one, bring together natural resource experts, community volunteers and others to inventory all living species in a specific area during a certain period. The family-friendly event will kick off at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center with a free pizza dinner, children’s activities and door prizes Friday night at 6 p.m.

Hour-long sessions will begin at 7 p.m. with special sessions on wildlife sounds, followed by a sunset hike and the bat survey. On Saturday, the surveys will get underway at 7 a.m. with the bird survey, followed by mammals, wildflowers, insects, trees and reptiles. The final survey is scheduled for noon. Participants may attend for any amount of time that they choose. 

The Nature Center will serve as the event’s headquarters, with a map and updated tally of species. Last year, participants identified 141 species.

Amber Schiltz, Nebraska education coordinator for the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, said both children and adults will enjoy exploring the area and learning from experts about natural diversity.

“If you’re looking for a fun, free event to get you and your family outside this summer, this is a great opportunity,” she said.

Attendance is free, but a Nebraska Park Entry Permit is required for vehicles and an RSVP is required for the pizza dinner. The first 25 to sign up will also be awarded a free T-shirt. To reply, contact Schiltz at 402-310-6137 or amber.schiltz@birdconservancy.org.

The event is sponsored by the Bird Conservancy and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, with funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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