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Animals of Kern at Shafter Library

Kern County is full of a variety of animals, be them on four legs, eight legs, or even no legs at all, with a good many of them found throughout the area. Representatives from the Wind Wolves Preserve, located in Eastern Kern County, visited the library, teaching the children about the many varieties and species of animals that can be found right in our own backyard.

Wind Wolves Preserve is in an ecologically unique region where the Transverse Ranges, Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada, western Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley influences converge. Due to elevation ranges from 640 to 6,005 feet, the preserve has an array of landforms and habitats that serve as a critical landscape linkage and wildlife corridor between the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada.

On the San Joaquin Valley floor, the preserve is a 30-square-mile veritable sea of grasslands with remnant stands of saltbush. These grasslands are home to the endangered San Joaquin kit fox and blunt-nosed leopard lizard as well as one of the largest stands of the endangered Bakersfield cactus. The preserve's main wetland is home to the Buena Vista Lake ornate shrew – one of the most endangered mammals in the United States. Rolling grasslands rise from the valley floor, transitioning into classic California blue oak and valley oak savanna with extensive riparian wetlands. The oak savanna ascends into juniper and pinyon forests that vault into stands of ponderosa pine and big cone spruce.

Volunteers have played a major role in working with staff to restore this heroic landscape. Fourteen years of monthly work parties have removed invasive tamarisk from 30 miles of stream channels. Volunteers have made miles of boundary fencing antelope friendly, as well as make kit fox dens for the recruitment of the foxes. And volunteers through school, family work parties and collaborating organizations have planted tens of thousands of native trees and shrubs.

The preserve includes the entire San Emidio Land Grant, once owned by John C. Fremont. Wind Wolves' rich cultural history includes some of the most noteworthy Native American rock art in North America.

They brought several skulls of different animals, teaching the kids about the animal just from looking at the skulls, such as how big the eye sockets are, or what size and shape their teeth are. "We know that if an animal has very big and sharp teeth, they are probably carnivores because they need those teeth to chew meat. Other animals have molars that can chew berries and plants, not needing big teeth for tearing meat," said Makasha Reyes from the preserve.

They also brought felt replicas of different species of birds, showing the kids the difference in their wing spans, from a raven, with about a 4-foot span, up to a California condor, with a wingspan of up to 11 feet.

They also brought along a couple of special guests. A young tortoise made an appearance, crawling around on the floor, then taken to the children so they could touch its shell, which was surprisingly soft to the touch. A number of the kids got to pet the burrowing animal, including Andrew Olvera, who thought "it was so cool" to pet the tortoise.

Another special friend made an appearance, but was not taken around for pets like the tortoise. A beautiful snake, about 4 feet in length was shown to the crowd, teaching them how the reptile eats, sleeps, and makes its way on the desert floor.


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