Beavers at the Refuge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Amanita amerirubescens mushroom on 1st day, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Amanita amerirubescens mushroom on 2nd day, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Canada geese in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Raccoon, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo
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Turkey tail fungus, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Female wild turkey, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo
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Opossum, photo by Cavit Buyukmihci
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Northern red-bellied turtle, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Dark fishing spider, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Cottontail rabbit babies, 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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News from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge

Current electronic newsletter Current print version newsletter Archives

February 2019

Main pond on a snowy day in November 2008, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

21st: Throwback to November of 2008 for this photo of a snowy day and the main pond. Notice one of the 'legacy' rustic bird houses intended for wood ducks. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory



Bald eagle on stump in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

18th: A telephoto image of one of the many bald eagles who live at or visit the Refuge. This individual was perched on an old tree stump in the main pond on a windy day.



Baby hog-nosed snake, photo by Al Francesconi

14th: Throwback to August of 1964, when Al Francesconi took this great photo of a baby eastern hog-nosed snake 'wandering' around the Refuge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #hog-nosedsnakes



Black bear, Bill Lea

13th: Challenge to New Jersey bear hunt rejected by court

A challenge to New Jersey's bear hunt has been rejected by a state appeals court. The challenge, brought by the Animal Protection League of New Jersey, The League of Humane Voters of New Jersey as well as several individuals, was an attempt to stop the implementation of amendments introduced in 2015 that added a second annual hunt in October to the existing hunt in December, allowed bow hunting and increased the number of hunting permits.

Angi Metler, executive director of the Animal Protection League, told the New Jersey Herald: "Non-lethal black bear conflict management is key and the future, no matter what the courts say," she continued. "We're not giving up until that day arrives."

Bear hunting in New Jersey was reintroduced in 2003. In 2018, 140 bears were killed in October and 85 in December. Governor Phil Murphy made a promise to impose a moratorium on bear hunting when he took office, but has failed to deliver. To date, he has stopped bear hunting on public land only. Bears can still be tormented and killed on private land.

The annual slaughter of these majestic and sentient animals must end.

Please continue to call (609-292-6000) and tweet Governor Murphy urging him to end bear hunting on all lands in New Jersey (@GovMurphy promised to cancel the #bearhunt).

For further information: https://www.njherald.com/20190213/appellate-judges-reject-challenge-to-archery-expansion-of-bear-hunt



Common snapping turtle in main pond, photo by Dave Sauder

11th: If you look closely at the encircled portion of this photograph by Dave Sauder, one of our Trustees, you will see a stout turtle head. Dave was visiting the Refuge in January and saw several common snapping turtles swimming in the main pond. His observations remind us that these turtles are 'cold-tolerant' and can be active all winter long.



Gray squirrel, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo

9th: Protest the squirrel killing contest in New Jersey

Winslow, New Jersey, is allowing a squirrel killing contest. Billed as the "First Annual Family Squirrel Classic", it is giving trophies and prizes to those, including children, who kill the most squirrels. This brutal and inhumane 'event' is scheduled for Saturday 16 February 2019.

PLEASE take time right now to voice your objection to this systematic slaughter of squirrels. Here is what you can do:



Drawing of beaver with lily pad cap, original artwork by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

7th: Throwback to early in the Refuge's history to this fanciful sketch of a beaver kit with a lily pad on her head. Original artwork by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory



Wild sarsaparilla, photo by Sage Russell

4th: Another nice photo of plants at the Refuge, provided by Sage Russell. This one is of wild sarsaparilla, circa 2012.



January 2019

Tufted titmouse, photo by Al Francesconi

31st: Throwback to 1967 and this exceptional photo of a tufted titmouse, taken by Al Francesconi. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #tuftedtitmouse


Great egret in flight, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

28th: A long-distance photo of a great egret flying near the outer border of the main pond during a fall day.



White-tailed deer eating water lily in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

26th: Please sign and share this petition to stop the killing of deer in Essex County Parks (South Mountain, Hilltop, and Eagle Rock Reservations), New Jersey and instead adopt humane methods to deal with wildlife-people conflict and population control. The petition has been started by the League of Humane Voters, New Jersey.

White-tailed deer are one of the most easily recognized wildlife species in New Jersey; many of whom live at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. Sadly, they are also one of the most persecuted species, cruelly hunted and killed with bow and arrows, shotguns and muzzle loading rifles.

Access the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/joseph-divincenzo-south-mountain-s-lethal-deer-policy-is-failing-it-s-time-for-change



Drawing of cuckoo by Edmund J Sawyer

24th: Throwback to many years ago to this delightful sketch of a cuckoo made by Edmund J Sawyer, artist, naturalist and father of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory



Safe white-tailed deer at Refuge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo

22nd: Call for an end to the deer slaughter in Texas

Land's End, a residential community in East Texas, has started to trap wild deer in nets to be taken away and slaughtered. Deer are highly nervous animals and prone to stress and shock during capture. This is an inhumane way to address human-wildlife conflict. We urge the Land's End Homeowner's Association to stop this cruelty and instead to adopt humane methods.

Please write a polite message to the Board of the Land's End Homeowner's Association: http://www.landsendhoa.org/contactus/contact-hoa/ (their Web site is: http://www.landsendhoa.org/)

They also have a Twitter and Facebook accounts:


Tall beaksedge, photo by Sage Russell

21st: We recently received a group of images from Sage Russell, of plants found at the Refuge. Although these are from several years ago, they are excellent photos of plants that live here, like the tall beaksedge pictured here.



Coyotes in Yellowstone National Park, National Park Service

18th: We and the coyotes who call our Refuge home urge you to sign this petition to stop extreme cruelty to coyotes in Wyoming

Wyoming allows 'yote whackin', a cruel and brutal practice that includes coyote killing contests and the chasing and killing of coyotes with snowmobiles. Coyotes are hunted all year in Wyoming. Considered a predatory animal in the State, no license is required to hunt them.

Please support the effort to protect coyotes in Wyoming. Sign the petition and write to the Governor of Wyoming (governor.elect@wyo.gov). Further details can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/end-brutal-coyote-whacking-in-wyoming?fbclid=IwAR0YXNUKHBIFb1ufZt2VNj-wprNE_p_4SbNAz2RAuNwv05ja18GHn726yPA



Drawing of dolphin by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder

17th: Throwback to a long time in the past to this drawing of a dolphin by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Hope made sketches of a wide variety of species, not just those residing at the Refuge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory



Beaver lodge in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

14th: This beaver lodge is on the far side of the main pond. Our habitat continues to entice beavers to stay and raise families.



White-tailed deer in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

13th: Support protests against deer hunting in New Jersey

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge provides a safe haven for white-tailed deer, one of the most easily recognized wildlife species in New Jersey. Shockingly, however, deer can be hunted and killed in 500,000 acres of state-owned public open space in NJ. Hunters are permitted to use not only shotguns, but also archaic and particularly cruel bow and arrows and muzzleloading rifles. They are allowed to spend over 100 days slaughtering these shy, elegant and engaging mammals. During 2017-2018, a staggering 48,545 deer were killed in NJ. This slaughter continues into 2019.

During January 2019, protests against deer hunting in Essex County are taking place. If you are able to, please support these events, taking signs (with polite, but firm messaging) with you:

South Mountain Reservation
Date & time: Saturday 19th January (between 11:30am-1:30pm)
Location: 560 Northfield Ave, West Orange, NJ (on the grassy surface, curbside, adjacent to the entrance of Turtle Back Zoo).

Hilltop Reservation
Date & time: Saturday 26th January (between 11:30am-1:30pm)
Location: Corner of Fairview Ave and Bloomfield Ave in Verona, NJ (on the curbside of Bloomfield Avenue)

For further details, contact Animal Protection League of New Jersey: https://aplnj.org/about/contact-apl/



Moss in bog area, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

10th: Throwback to 2015 and this photo of one of our rich bog areas. The pictured sphagnum moss sprinkled with fallen leaves of a variety of trees makes a lovely 'salad'. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory



Bumblebee and buttonbush, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

7th: From earlier and warmer days at the Refuge, a bumblebee was gathering food from this buttonbush.



Beaver with reed in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

4th: Reason to Celebrate! After 180 years, beavers have returned to Milwaukee River. Milwaukee historian, John Gurda, reports in the Journal Sentinel. Although Gurda has eaten beaver meat in the past, he remarks, "What better way to start the new year than by cheering the return of these ancient natives to their ancestral home?" Read more at https://eu.jsonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/john-gurda/2019/01/03/beavers-return-downtown-milwaukee-thanks-new-arboretum/2463718002/



Canada goose on frozen main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

3rd: Throwback to 2009 and this lone Canada goose on the snow-covered and frozen main pond. Her or his friends were nearby. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #Canadagoose



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