Beavers at the Refuge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Amber jelly fungus, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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American bullfrog, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Juvenile bald eagle, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Swamp azalea, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Striped skunk babies, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo
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Snow-covered beaver lodge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Slime mold on plants, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Ring-necked snake, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Red-bellied turtles, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Pincushion moss, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is a protected natural habitat comprising 767 acres of pristine pine lands, forest, fields and bogs. It provides a refuge to animals and plants indigenous to southern New Jersey; a place where wildlife can live freely and naturally without fear of being harmed at the hands of human beings. We began as the home of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci and Cavit Buyukmihci, who dedicated their land to habitat preservation so that native wildlife and habitat could thrive. We are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) entity, federal ID 23-7025010.
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The Buyukmihcis

by Freya Dinshah, President of the American Vegan Society and still located at 56 Dinshah Lane, PO Box 369, Malaga, NJ 08328; (856) 694-2887;

I first met the Buyukmihcis in 1963 or '64. My brother-in-law, Roshan, had invited them to have dinner with us. At that time Roshan, my husband Jay and I lived in the little yellow house in Malaga, and it was unusual to know another vegetarian family. Hope and Cavit brought along their two daughters, Linda and Nermin, and I took them out to the garden to pick some vegetables and salad ingredients. I apologized for the weeds, but Hope approved; birds appreciate weeds and lettuce gone to seed.

Anne and a friendly beaver
Anne and a friendly beaver

Hope and Cavit had recently acquired the Adams property (to become known as Unexpected Wildlife Refuge). It was winter when Hope phoned to invite me to be snowed in at the cabin with her. I had to decline that invitation as I knew that Jay would not be happy if I left him! There would be other opportunities to spend time in Hope's company – waiting at the water's edge for beavers to appear, or sitting by the wood stove, enjoying soup and making pancakes.

Several years later, Hope and Cavit's son, Nedim, graduated Delsea Regional High School and gave the valedictorian address – a stirring call for the preservation of wildlife. I attended with my baby, Daniel and cousin Jen (Jay had "left" me to go on a round-the-world lecture tour).

A photo by Hope of my daughter Anne (c1974) feeding the beaver Julie on the Long Boardwalk was used on UWR brochures.

In those days Hope would sometimes stop by our house with a harmless snake in a bucket that she had just removed in response to a call from a terrified neighbor. The children were invited to hold and stroke the snake.

Cavit liked to take Hope out for dinner and so, there being no vegetarian restaurants in the vicinity, a regular schedule of bringing her to our house was established.

Hope's Chalk Talks about the refuge, bluebirds, and beavers were a treat for local school children. When a local potluck group, Vegetarian Neighbors, began meeting monthly (about 20 years ago), Hope was an eager participant who brought delicious dishes.

Both Cavit and Nermin were for a time council members of the American Vegan Society. Nermin was the pioneer of the vegan products mail order business when she started Nermin's Dry Goods, in 1976.

Linda is an ardent vegan, now living in New York with husband Bill on their veganically-run Unexpected Farm. Their produce is outstanding and sold at the Ithaca Market.