Western New York has a new furry weather predictor.
Buffalo Bert is a male groundhog less than a year old who is a permanent resident of Hawk Creek Wildlife Center in East Aurora. He made his Groundhog Day debut last weekend at Flying Bison’s Groundhog Day party.
Unfortunately, Bert predicted six more weeks of winter.
“People love him, and he’s a very charismatic-looking creature, and he has a great story, Tanya Lowe, curator and education director for Hawk Creek said.
Bert and his siblings were found after their mother was killed. They were all very sick, and Bert was the only one who survived.
“He was very sick and he needed a lot of care- he was not a good candidate to go back in the wild,” Lowe said. “He was a great candidate to become Buffalo Bert.
Now, Bert does educational programs and events at the wildlife center.
“The story of him losing his mom is a great one to remind people to be tolerant of animals,” Lowe said. “Sometimes you need to just take a step back and learn about that animal.”
Hawk Creek provides rehabiliation for injured and orphaned birds and mammals, and sanctuary for animals that can’t return to the wild.
Lowe says that if you’re not sure whether an animal needs help or not, consult a local wildlife rehabiliator before doing anything.
“If the animal is bleeding or ensnared in something, that’s an animal that needs help right away,” Lowe said.
Hawk Creek is a nonprofit organization with 90 permanent residents and about 50 different species, including lynx, foxes, and eagles.
The center started in 1987 as a way for founder Loretta C. Jones to teach respect and responsibility to her children.
The center is now one of the largest accredited non-profit raptor centers in the eastern U.S.
Sponsorships for different animals are available.