In addition to birding or hiking, many nature enthusiasts look for the weird and wild such as a scorpion hunt to break out of the mold.
Consider these wild and wooly events some national wildlife refuges have planned this spring.
- Earn bragging rights on a Scorpion Hunt
Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge – Alamo, NV
Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge – Clark County, NV
May 16 at 8 p.m. (Pahranagat)
September 19, Sept. 20, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. (Moapa Valley)
Search for scorpions at night, with the aid of only an ultraviolet flashlight, your wildlife detective skills and an expert guide. Look out: Night may impair your vision; not so for the nocturnal scorpion. But you have an advantage, too: Under UV light, scorpions glow a fluorescent blue.
- Dig for selenite crystals
Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge – Jet, OK
April 1 through October 15
Unearth a distinctive souvenir of Northwestern Oklahoma. Nowhere else in the world can you find selenite crystals with unique hourglass patterns just below the salt-encrusted surface. Digging for selenite — a form of the mineral gypsum — predates the refuge’s establishment in 1930. The refuge allows the practice to continue. Last year, the refuge saw some 40,000 diggers.
Digging is allowed on about 200 of the 13,000 acres of salt flats. Sites are subject to change. Wear a hat and sunblock and bring plenty of bottled water. And bring a change of clothes — crystal hunting can be messy. Diggers can bring home up to 10 pounds of crystals a day or one large cluster. Selling the crystals is prohibited. More information here or call 580-626-4794.
- Get goosebumps on a “Wolf Howl”
Alligator River Refuge – Manteo, NC
April 4, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
May 23, 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Head into the woods after dark with refuge staff and hear the chilling howl of an endangered red wolf in one of its last natural habitats. Only an estimated 100 red wolves remain in the wild.
Wolf howls cost $10; free for children under 12. No reservations are needed. More informationhere, including additional event dates (monthly, through December) or call 252-216-9464.
- Learn lessons in love at a Prairie-Chicken Festival
Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge – Eagle Lake, TX
April 11 and 12, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Valentine’s Day may have passed, but prairie-chickens are still in the mood for romance. See males of the species perform their flamboyant courtship dance — complete with foot stomps, fanned tail feathers, inflated yellow throat sacs and strange booming sounds. Bring your binoculars for a morning trip through the stunning coastal prairies of southeastern Texas. Save time for refuge wildflower tours and walks to explore the diversity of the habitat. More information here or call 979-234-3021.