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Wildlife ambassadors assemble for National Picnic Day | Lifestyle


Winged and scaled representatives of the animal kingdom made an appearance at Conger Park in Hernando Friday, April 23, for National Picnic Day.

WAVE Raptors and Reptiles, a DeSoto County animal conservation group, hosted animal demonstrations to celebrate the 18th century french tradition “piquenique,” a meal eaten outdoors.

Children and adults at Conger Park enjoyed the educational presentation of hawks, owls, and snakes, and learning about their habitats in nature.

Suzanne Burch, co-founder of WAVE, handled a Swainson’s Hawk, named Dakota. Kelley Dion, with WAVE, handled an Eastern Screech Owl named Jasper. Both animals suffered from different injuries or handicaps and remain in WAVE’s care.

“Caring for these animals really is a process,” said Dion. “We have to go through the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and apply for a permit to care, house and keep these animals. It could take a couple months to two and a half years.”

The birds weren’t allowed to be handled by attendees. Three different snakes were present to the delight children reaching for a chance to touch one, including an albino Corn Snake and a Florida King Snake. Many parents kept a squeamish distance.

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