MANSFIELD – Outdoors lovers can come get “wild” during the Keeping Georgia Wild Festival at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield, scheduled from 9 a.m.to 2 p.m. on May 18.

Free admission includes an array of activities that focuses on Georgia wildlife, conservation and outdoor recreational opportunities. Kids can try archery, fishing, shooting sports, and even mini-boat rides led by Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ conservation rangers. Live animal presentations, face painting, solar viewing with the Charlie Elliott Astronomy club, and exhibitors displaying wildlife-themed booths add to the festivities. Special events will be happening at other parts of the property, including a gun safety event at the shooting range. Attendees will also get to enjoy a free hot dog lunch.

Sponsors of this year’s event include the Georgia Wildlife Federation, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Outdoors, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

Before leaving the Charlie Elliott property, attendees can stop by the Visitors’ Center to tour the museum and take advantage of special sales in the gift shop.

To get to CEWC, take I-20 to Exit 98. Travel south on Highway 11, go through Mansfield and continue three miles south to the entrance at Marben Farm Road on the left. Then follow the signs to the Discovery Area. This event will be held rain or shine.

For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/KeepingGAWILD, or call (770) 784-3059.

While preparing for the festival, DNR officials note that many species of wildlife, such as deer, coyotes, bears, raccoons, foxes and skunks, often get labeled as a nuisance due to their sometimes intrusive and destructive habits in suburban settings during this time of year. They say it is most commonly because of easy access to “food.”

“Wildlife can, and will, take advantage of ‘easy food’ opportunities. So, it is our job, as homeowners, to ensure that we are keeping these non-natural foods away from wildlife – for our safety and for the wildlife,” John Bowers, chief of the Game Management Section of Wildlife Resources Division, said in a news release.

Following are basic tips to help keep wildlife from becoming a nuisance:

♦ Don’t feed wildlife at all. You can attract desirable wildlife in many other ways (www.georgiawildlife.com/nuisancewildlife).

♦ Keep items such as grills, pet food or bird feeders off-limits. Clean and store grills when not in use, keep pet food indoors and feed pets indoors, and refill bird feeders infrequently and in

♦ small amounts.

♦ Make trash cans inaccessible. Keep lids securely fastened or store trash cans in a secured location until trash pick-up.

Options for handling nuisance wildlife (including a list of professional nuisance trappers), fact sheets, wildlife rehabilitator information, tips on managing land for wildlife, guides on rabies and much more can be found at www.georgiawildlife.com/nuisancewildlife.

A video is available at www.youtube.com/GeorgiaWildlife. Click on “Videos” to find the title “Nuisance Wildlife in Georgia.”

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