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Mississippi center to note Roosevelt’s 1902 teddy bear hunt

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is starting construction of a visitor’s center for seven wildlife refuges in the Mississippi Delta.

The service broke ground Wednesday in Onward for the 5,000 square-foot Theodore Roosevelt Visitor Center, projected to cost $5.6 million. A 6-acre Sharkey County parcel for the center was donated by Wildlife Mississippi.

The visitor’s center will commemorate a nearby 1902 bear hunt by President Theodore Roosevelt, where Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear previously restrained by Delta hunting guide Holt Collier. That refusal, when publicized, led to the creation of the teddy bear.

Among participants Wednesday were Simon Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt’s great-great grandson, and Ann Marie Parker, Collier’s great-niece. Also participating were Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

The center is scheduled for completion in 2017.

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