Cool Critters Live at Dauset Trails in Jackson

3:55 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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Right up I-75, there is a nature preserve where you can take the kids, ride your bike, or just enjoy some peace under the shade of the trees.

You never know what will swim by or stare you down at Dauset Trails nature preserve.

A winding animal trail will put you in front of quite a few critters.

These are animals that aren't healthy enough to go back into the wild. Dauset is their permanent home.

Gordon Respess has worked as a naturalist for nineteen years at Dauset.

"Most of the animals we get here are from the Department of Natural Resources or other licensed wildlife rehabilitators," Respess explained.

Respess added, of course folks have their favorite spots.

"The mammals birds of prey and reptiles are what kids like to see," he said.

Ah, yes, the reptiles, where you can see the alligators get comfy, and figure out that a cottonmouth isn't something you would want to get close to in your backyard.

"This is one of the few cases you can get close to a snake on the side of the glass wall and study and learn how to recognize their features and identify them," Respess explained.

Some things are easy to identify as they waddle along, like the plump beaver. You may have to peer a little harder to find the opossums.

And the afternoon that we visited the coyotes and the bears went to a much cooler space. It's a hiding spot not easy to see at all.

It's not hard to spot the clowns of the trail, though. The otters usually put on a show.

"We transferred them here for educational purposes," Respess said. "They are a big hit. They are a lot of fun to watch. Very playful, and everyone likes to watch them entertain themselves."

The strategy for this place is to really slow down, explore, and take it all in.

"It's quiet, it's peaceful, and you can come and relax and get away from the city, get away from worry and stress, and come out and have a good time outdoors," Respess said with a smile.

Dauset does offer camping for organized groups like churches, Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts.

And get this -- it's free to visit. They do ask for a donation if you would like to contribute, but they don't charge admission.

The address is 360 Mount Vernon Church Road in Jackson, only about five miles away from High Falls State Park.

For more information, you can call (770) 775-6798.

They also have horseback riding trails and mountain bike trails.

As for the animals, in some cases, they will accept animals that are orphaned or maybe hit by a car.

The goal is to always release those back into the wild and, of course, keep the ones that will need permanent care.

 

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