David Luna (standing), principal of Barbara Webster School, and Dan Lang, science resource teacher at Barbara Webster, look over the collection of wild animal mounts Photo by Pat Untiedt

Barbara Webster sheltering wild animal collection

May 23, 2001
Santa Paula News
Lions and Tigers and Bears... Oh My!!! Lions and Tigers and BearsDan Lang, science resource teacher at Barbara Webster Elementary School, and President of Matilija Environmental Science Area Society (M.E.S.A) made arrangements with Fillmore City, to house a magnificent collection of wild animal mounts at Barbara Webster until the animals get a permanent home at M.E.S.A.The animal donation became available when an investment Fillmore made five years ago went sour. The city made the Educators of America Inc. a $98,000 business startup loan for a wildlife museum that the city thought would enhance their tourist attractions. In less than a year, it was apparent the business was going defunct and that Karl Anderson, the museum founder, was headed to jail for violating animal permit laws.In addition to the start up loan, legal fees, costs for storing the animals and preparation for sale raised the total. The animal mounts that could legally be sold at auction brought in a little more than $57,000 leaving a shortfall of $103,000. After many attempts by Vance Johnson, Fillmore's Special Projects Coordinator, to coordinate a sale for the remaining mounts through the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, and Untied States Congressman Elton Gallegly's office to possibly recoup some of the city's losses failed Fillmore's City Manager, Roy Payne, ordered the mounts out of town.``With these unique animal mounts placed at M.E.S.A. it will allow the students to really feel the impact of true wildlife,'' said Lang. ``Now, with these animals it will mirror our global responsibilities.''Twenty years ago Lang was a co-founder of the MESA project and has seen many Fillmore and Santa Paula students experience the beauty and wildlife of the Ventura backcountry through MESA fieldtrips and classroom presentations. The project has no tax base and operates solely on small user fees.
``Although unfortunate for Fillmore, it is giving many students a wonderful experience with animals for researching their habitat, feed, and habits,'' said Lang.Among the list of animals is a full size polar bear, male Marco Polo sheep, and cougar. There are head mounts of a caracal, a male wood bison, a chamois, and a bontebok, to name a few of the extensive collection.Lang expresses his desire to continue developing student interest in wildlife ecology, and says he feels this is a wonderful exposure to empower the students.

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