Museum donates stuffed specimens to Mesa State

Biology majors Sharice Pena, 21, left, and Cassandra Edwards, 24, clean and prepare one of the 453 stuffed birds and small mammals that Museum of the West has donated to Mesa State College.

The Museum of Western Colorado’s collection of stuffed birds and small mammals has flown the coop to Mesa State College, where the animals, most of them frozen by taxidermy in lifelike poses, will be used by students and others.

The Museum of Western Colorado has completed the transfer of its 453-animal collection, which rarely was placed on public view, to the college, where the fauna will be in almost constant use.

The shaped creatures will be useful in Biology 101 as well as in more advanced classes devoted to ornithology, ecology and wildlife management, said Rick Dujay, director of the Center for Electron Microscopy in the Biological Sciences Department.

Dujay also works closely with the Museum of Western Colorado as a co-director of the Western Investigations Team.

Many of the taxidermy-preserved animals were donated to the museum after their carcasses were discovered as roadkill, said Mike Perry, executive director of the museum.

Many specimens were displayed regularly before 2000, when the museum moved into its current building at Fourth Street and Ute Avenue.

The donation to the college was easier because of the greater need for the collection at Mesa State, Perry said.

Specimens include red-winged blackbirds,  chukar, mergansers and ringneck pheasants. Coyotes, cougars and raccoons also are part of the collection.

Alexis Holmes, environmental education coordinator at Highline Lake State Park, took advantage of the collection Thursday, gathering up a red-tailed hawk and other specimens for display at Loma Elementary School.

The birds are many of the same species found in the area of the school, Holmes said.


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