By Dan Walton
Wildlife is one of the valleys most unpredictable attractions, so Tourism Radium is in the process of collecting and exhibiting some of natures most majestic species in the safe confines of its Visitor Centre.
Not everybody who drives through (Kootenay National Park) gets to see wildlife, said Kent Kebe, manager of Tourism Radium. We thought that by creating a wildlife display for the valley, they could come in here in a safe fashion cars wont be parking on the side of the road to see animals.
The chief difference, of course, is that specimens in the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Centre are mounted rather than live. The ambitious effort is being put forth to share natures history in great detail by preserving animals killed unnaturally by motor vehicles or in cases where conservation officers are involved.
The process is a challenge, however. The team first has to wait for a member of their desired species to meet an untimely death, the Ministry of Lands, Forests and Natural Resources must then issue a permit to obtain the specimen, and significant dollars have to be spent on taxidermy upwards of $5,000 for larger animals.
In 2014, a cougar hunting bighorn sheep in Radium had become accustomed to picking off the easy meat, and was subsequently euthanized. Tourism Radium obtained permits for the cougar and two of the sheep.
We can expect them to eat a few sheep, but this one was eating quite a few, said Mr. Kebe. We can tell the story that this particular cougar killed these sheep.
Although visitors will have to wait to see the cougar and sheep, which are in the process of being preserved, the visitor centre recently added a common loon to its display.
During Radiums annual Feastival fundraiser in December, more than $2,000 was raised for Tourism Radium towards the taxidermy of a grizzly bear. Each year, community volunteers converge on La Cabina Restaurant, which donates its kitchen and dining area for the Tourism Radium fundraiser that takes place on Christmas Day and feeds anywhere from 100 to 150 people, 90 per cent of whom are out-of-towners.
The Radium Hot Springs Visitor Centre, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Radium are grateful to the Festival organizing committee and volunteers for supporting the Visitor Centres endeavours to enhance the wildlife exhibit. We encourage everyone to come see the exhibit, said Mr. Kebe.
The exhibit was also supported by the Horsethief Gives Back! program, when Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery donated 15 per cent of sales to the Visitor Centre on Sunday, February 15th. Private donations have also supported the exhibit and are always accepted.
The interactive wildlife exhibit can be visited any time, free of charge, at the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Centre, which is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.