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16 November 2019: We welcome Jen Collins as our new manager! Jen holds a masters degree in biology. Shown here with a kestrel in the process of rehabilitation, Jen is a passionate advocate for the respect and protection of all wildlife, natural habitats and the environment. Her experience working with raptor rehabilitation has given her a unique insight into conservation and public education. She is a vegetarian, actively working towards full veganism. You can contact her at email@example.com.
14 November 2019: Throwback again to around 1974 and some more photos of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder, giving one of her many educational talks using her own artwork for illustrations (see last month for the photo with the squirrel sketch). The photos were kindly provided by Kevin Inman, taken during Hope's presentation to the Atlantic Audubon Society. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
11 November 2019: Among the many species of snakes at the Refuge is the northern black racer (or eastern racer) shown here. She was probably searching for food just before hibernation last year. We have no way of knowing if she survived and is wandering around the Refuge now, also preparing herself for winter. As their name implies, individuals of this species can move rapidly through the undergrowth, becoming just a memory within moments. We were lucky to get this photo before this one 'disappeared'.
7 November 2019: Throwback to 1961 and this educational artwork of the eastern gray squirrel by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Note the detail in this 'simple' pen and ink sketch. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #easterngraysquirrels
4 November 2019: The sulfur shelf fungi we see differ in size widely. This group we might consider 'medium' (we showed you a huge one in the past). These are known as bracket fungi (grow on trees). Synonyms for this species include crab-of-the-woods and sulphur polypore (because they have many pores underneath).
31 October 2019: Throwback to 1974 and this photo taken by Kevin Inman of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci during a presentation on wildlife to the Atlantic Audubon Society. In addition to being an accomplished artist and naturalist, Hope regularly used her experiences to teach others the wonders of our natural world. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
28 October 2019: This ribbon snake was seen amongst some old wood near the Miller House. Although completely harmless to people, he assumed a 'defensive' posture when approached. A type of garter snake, these snakes can reach three feet in length, although those we regularly see are usually much shorter.
21 October 2019: Pickerelweed is a source of nutrients for many species, including beavers and bumblebees. Here, bumblebees are gathering nectar from plants at the edge of the main pond.
17 October 2019: Throwback to 1982 and this photo of fledgling eastern bluebirds. It was taken by Augie Sexauer during one of his many visits to the Refuge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #easternbluebirds
14 October 2019: A family of black vultures had taken up residence inside the attic of the old barn near our (previous) cabin. We would see the adults at various times and then we started to see juveniles as they ventured out. Here a juvenile sits on the peak while a parent is lower down the roof.
10 October 2019: Throwback to 2016 and this female American black duck. She was swimming near a beaver lodge which was being 'watched' by one of our trail cameras. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #americanblackducks
7 October 2019: Gall wasps lay their eggs on a suitable plant host. Through a process not well understood, a protective and nutritive shell (gall) is induced to surround the eggs (and the resulting larvae). This photo is of such a gall, presumably after the larvae have matured and left.
3 October 2019: Throwback to our distant past and this drawing of a nuthatch contemplating a hole in a tree trunk. It was created by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
30 September 2019: Look carefully and you will see the male red-winged blackbird trailing above and behind the great blue heron flying over the main pond. In the background, another great blue heron appears to be watching the procession. This long-distance photo was taken by Trustee Leor Veleanu.
28 September 2019: NJ joins multi-state action to stop Trump Administration from weakening wildlife protections
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is pleased to learn that New Jersey is joining with other states to challenge the Trump administration's rolling back of the protection provided by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our country's most effective law for protecting threatened and endangered wildlife. The multi-state action has been filed in the U.S. District Court in California.
There are at least 14 threatened and endangered species in NJ. The Refuge is home to many of these, including the American kestrel, bald eagle, osprey, and pine snake (pictured).
The Trump administration changes remove automatic protections for threatened species and allow economic factors to be considered when deciding if a species should be listed as endangered or threatened. They also makes it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, mines and other industrial projects in critical habitat areas that are essential to the survival of species at risk.
In a statement to the news media, NJ State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said:
The Endangered Species Act is quite clear about the need to protect threatened and endangered wildlife, but the administration's rules undermine the promise at every turn, opening the door to mining and drilling in long protected areas.
For further information: https://www.insidernj.com/press-release/n-j-sues-block-trump-administration-undermining-key-components-u-s-endangered-species-act/
26 September 2019: Throwback to 1965 and this photo of two beavers and a raccoon at Otter Dam. It was taken by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Hope was able to reliably identify many individual beavers, her passion, and called these two Goldie and Fluffy. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers #raccoons
25 September 2019: Bird populations in the U.S and Canada have declined by 29% since 1970
A new report published in Science, has revealed that since 1970, bird populations in the United States and Canada have declined by a shocking 29%, or almost 3 billion birds. Grassland-dwelling birds have been especially affected with more than 700 million birds across 31 species having vanished since 1970.
The report notes that birds are indicators of environmental health and their decline signals that natural systems across the US and Canada are being severely impacted by human activities. The study's lead author, Dr Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the nonprofit American Bird Conservancy stated: "It's a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife...And that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment."
23 September 2019: These lovely cinnabar red chanterelle mushrooms were present near the main pond. People often ask if mushrooms, like these, are edible. What they mean, of course, is edible by people. We like to point out that almost all are edible by someone, whether human or other.
19 September 2019: Throwback to April 2006 when we disturbed these two eastern painted turtles. Given the time of year, it might be that they were preparing to mate. After getting this photo, we quickly moved on, restoring their privacy. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #easternpaintedturtles
16 September 2019: This delicate pearl crescent butterfly was seen near headquarters. The fact that these insects are 'common' does not diminish our appreciation for their importance in the ecosystem of the Refuge.
12 September 2019: Throwback to 1985 and this black and white photo of a Canada goose wading in the shallows of the main pond. It was taken by Richard Rosenberg. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #Canadageese
9 September 2019: California has become the first state to ban trapping of animals for their furs
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge welcomes new legislation in California that bans trapping of animals for their fur. The Wildlife Protection Act of 2019, signed into law by Gov Gavin Newsom, makes it illegal to trap animals on private and public lands, for the purposes of recreation or to sell their fur. Species impacted by this new law include beavers, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and otters, although it is still legal to trap these animals for other purposes, including for so-called pest control and public health.
The bill's author, Lorena Gonzalez, an Assemblywoman from San Diego, stated in the news media: "Fur trapping is a cruel practice that has no place in 21st century California."
Refuge President, Dr Nedim Buyukmihci, who has been an outspoken opponent of the fur trade for many decades, stated: "This legislation demonstrates an encouraging change in attitude towards the way in which wild animals are viewed and treated. Trapping animals is cruel, especially to kill and take their fur. I hope other states will now follow the humane example set by California."
In further good news, California lawmakers are now considering a ban on the sale of fur. Please support by signing and sharing this petition: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/950/135/960/?TAP=1732.
Read more here: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-04/fur-trapping-ban-california-law?fbclid=IwAR1b9Ik1p2nC6J5JOz5gclv6KSLuwtN0NkNT84uwxoYw1JZdlioZg5egkc8.
9 September 2019: Dave Sauder, one of the Refuge Trustees, had his camera when he came upon this baby Fowler's toad. These toads are numerous throughout the wetlands of the Refuge. Shortly after emerging from the water as 'new' toads, they can be seen in their dozens everywhere, including areas where people walk, forcing us to walk 'head down' to avoid harming them. They soon get large enough and cautious of others, making it easier to get around them.
5 September 2019: Throwback to our distant past and this lovely drawing of chickadees in a snow-covered tree. This was done by Edmund J Sawyer, wildlife artist and father of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Hope was greatly inspired by her father's passion for the natural world. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
2 September 2019: This great blue heron was high up in a pine tree along the shore of the main pond. She soon spread those great wings and took off to explore the main pond. We have not yet had the privilege of seeing these birds in their colonial nests.
29 August 2019: Throwback to our distant past and this wonderful sketch of bighorn sheep made by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Although most of Hope's artistry centered around wildlife at the Refuge, her artwork comprised a variety of non-native species, too. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
26 August 2019: This rough green snake was near the main pond when Trustee Leor Veleanu came upon him. Always with a camera at hand, Leor got this great photo before the snake slithered off. 'Rough' green snakes are called as such because of their keeled scales. Maybe a more fitting name would be keeled green snake to differentiate them from the related smooth green snake.
22 August 2019: Throwback to 1986 and this photo of Cavit Buyukmihci, our co-founder, observing and enjoying nature along one of the many boardwalks he constructed. Although Cavit came from a background of animal exploitation, his wife Hope, our other co-founder, through example and inculcation, convinced him that living in harmony with animals was the right thing to do. He rapidly advanced from someone who thought all snakes were 'dangerous' to a committed and uncompromising champion of all animals. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
19 August 2019: The rare clubmoss ('rare' is part of the name) is also known as ground pine or princess pine due to its resemblance to young conifers. The developmental stage of this plant is sensitive to being walked on by people, which is just one of the reasons we have established trails to minimize disturbance by non-native (human) visitors.
17 August 2019: US government weakens protection for endangered animals
This week, the US federal government finalized sweeping changes to the way it enforces the Endangered Species Act (ESA), our country's most effective law for saving wildlife from extinction. The ESA was signed into law in 1973 and today protects more than 1,600 plant and animals species. It is credited with saving species such as the California condor, the Florida manatee, the gray whale and grizzly bear among others.
The changes remove automatic protections for threatened species and allow economic factors to be considered when deciding if a species should be listed as endangered or threatened. They also make it easier for companies to build roads, pipelines, mines and other industrial projects in critical habitat areas that are essential to the survival of species at risk.
This rolling back of protection comes at a critical time for wildlife as a United Nations report warned in May that more than 1 million plants and animals globally face extinction as a result of human development, climate change and other threats. The Trump administration should be protecting the Endangered Species Act, not working to undermine it. The future of many of our country's iconic wildlife species is now at risk.
There has been widespread publicity about these devastating changes. Wildlife groups and Democratic lawmakers are promising to challenge the new rules in Congress and in court. We will keep you posted on developments and actions that you can take. In the meantime, you can write to your federal legislators and urge them to do what they can to stop this incredible assault on our wildlife and environment.
For further information:
16 August 2019: New report out on how to deal with beavers humanely
Because there were concerns about beavers and their impact in Chesterfield, New Jersey, the Chesterfield Environmental Commission worked to develop a plan that would mitigate negative impacts while not harming the beavers. Nancy Scarafile was kind enough to provide us with a copy of the published plan which you can see through this link. We hope that others will similarly develop non-lethal methods of 'control', particularly methods that allow both species to live in reasonable harmony. After all, the habitat is just as much the beavers' as it is the peoples'.
15 August 2019: Throwback to 1995 and this photo of two beaver kits being fed by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Hope not only had a deep and unflagging passion for beavers, the beavers, in turn, seemed to recognize a kindred spirit in her. Not everyone appreciates the wonders of the beaver, so please do not try to befriend them lest they approach someone who means them harm. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
12 August 2019: Michael has been watching a family of groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, who have taken up residence near the cabin. He has spotted at least three babies ('chucklings') who leave the burrow to browse, always with a parent guardian, like the one pictured here, close by.
8 August 2019: Throwback to 2016 and this female wild turkey 'caught' by one of our trail cameras. We hear these birds more often than we see them. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
5 August 2019: As many of you know, Canada geese not only visit the Refuge on their way elsewhere, they also set up home here. Michael, our manager, commented about this picture he took a while back: "My record for the number of geese seen at one time is around 130."
1 August 2019: Throwback to some time in our past and this pencil sketch of a young raccoon peering from a hole in a tree. It was made by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder, naturalist and superb wildlife artist. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
30 July 2019: Wolf advocacy group partners with USDA to humanely resolve conflicts in Minnesota
Howling for Wolves, a wolf advocacy group based in Minnesota, has partnered with the USDA Wildlife Services to promote humane methods for farmers and ranchers to use in an effort to reduce the number of wolf-related conflict issues and the number of wolves killed as a result.
One mile of fladry has been provided by Howling for Wolves at a number of sites in Minnesota. Fladry is a line of rope mounted along the top of a fence, from which are suspended strips of fabric or colored flags that will flap in a breeze, intended to deter wolves from crossing the fence line. Other nonlethal prevention methods recommended include alarms or scare devices.
The mission of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is to work with individuals and communities to peacefully resolve conflicts with all wildlife and we welcome this initiative by Howling for Wolves.
For further information: http://www.howlingforwolves.org/news/press-release-nonlethal-methods-prevent-conflicts-between-livestock-and-wolves-available
29 July 2019: This eastern mud turtle had just climbed out of the main pond onto the shore when we came along. Covered in duckweed, she eyed us suspiciously and then went on her way.
25 July 2019: Throwback to 1990 and this fantastic series of photos of a ruffed grouse 'drumming' by Ed Abbott. You can see the movements these birds make during their 'drumming', usually while perched on a log. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #ruffedgrouse
22 July 2019: We did not mean to intrude in the private life of this black rat snake who had just finished mating with another. But, we had a camera and could not resist getting a photo. Also known as pilot black snakes or just black snakes, we are always thrilled to see these wonderful individuals.
18 July 2019: We do not know when this photo was taken, but we know it was early in the history of the Refuge. It shows Cavit Buyukmihci, our co-founder, patiently waiting for this beaver to take a bit of food from his hand. Although we have historically befriended beavers at the Refuge, we know now that, although immensely gratifying for us, it is not in the best interests of these individuals who may travel places where their trust in human beings may be betrayed. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
15 July 2019: This osprey caught a fish in the main pond and flew high up onto one of the trees at the shore, presumably to eat undisturbed by others. We feel sorry for the fish, but we do not moralize about food sources in free-living animals (wildlife).
11 July 2019: Throwback to 1976 and this photo of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. She was apparently on her way back from Squirrel Haven when Dave Stauffer captured her determined stride on camera. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
8 July 2019: Although originally from Asia and not native to North America, the bleeding heart is seen occasionally at the Refuge. The beautiful pink and white flowers shaped like the stylized image of a heart hints at the name. They are also known as lady-in-a-bath, among other synonyms.
4 July 2019: Throwback to our distant past and this print from an original watercolor by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder and wildlife artist. You can help the Refuge by purchasing a copy of the unmarked print by choosing Help us > Merchandise from the main menu. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
1 July 2019: Antlions build traps for ants or other small creatures. We have not been able to get a photo of an individual, but we see the traps at various places throughout the Refuge. Here you can see one next to the mound of an ant tunnel (left). The antlion eventually becomes a delicate-winged adult who appears similar to and is sometimes confused with damselflies.
27 June 2019: Throwback to Aug of 1964 and this photo of an eastern hog-nosed snake and Fowler's toad by Al Francesconi. Although toads are often shunned by other predators, they are a favorite of hog-nosed snakes. We do not know what happened in this case, but accept that the struggle to stay alive often pits one animal against another. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #hognosedsnake
24 June 2019: This striking photo of a prothonotary warbler was taken by Leor Veleanu. Leor, a Refuge Trustee, was visiting the Refuge recently to pursue his passion in avian wildlife photography. He happened upon this warbler and managed to get this great image before the bird flew off into the distance.
20 June 2019: Throwback to 1986 and this black and white photo of a bald-faced hornet and her intricate nest. This wasp (not a true hornet) has a variety of other names: bald hornet, blackjacket, bull wasp, spruce wasp, white-faced hornet, white-tailed hornet. We care not about the names, only that these beautiful insects have a welcome home at our Refuge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
17 June 2019: Our manager frequently spends time at Miller Pond, one of our waterways that is rich with wildlife all year round. On a recent crisp winter late afternoon, he and these Canada geese shared a sunset.
15 June 2019: A global survey has found that 571 plant species have become extinct although scientists say that the number is likely to be much higher.
The study (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-019-0906-2), is based on the first global analysis of plant species. It was reported that the number of plants to have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals and amphibians combined.
The main cause of the extinctions is given as the human destruction of natural habitats, including the cutting down of forests and converting land into fields for farming.
"Plants underpin all life on Earth," said Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, who was part of the team. "They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world's ecosystems -- so plant extinction is bad news for all species."
Although our Refuge is 'small', every hectare of habit that is protected from human encroachment is critical if we are to prevent mass extinction of all the others with whom we share this planet.
Click here for article in The Guardian.
13 June 2019: Throwback to 1962 and this excellent watercolor print originally created by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder and wildlife artist. You can help the Refuge by purchasing a copy of the unmarked print by choosing Help us > Merchandise from the main menu. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
10 June 2019: This wild turkey hen was wandering around an area of forest when our manager happened along. She quickly fled the scene, but Michael managed to get a photo (and some video) before she disappeared. You can see the video here.
6 June 2019: Throwback to a long time ago, when this beaver came out of the water to 'harvest' this young poplar tree. The photo was taken by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
3 June 2019: Our main pond one early evening last May. Note the full moon. If you had been there, you would have been treated to a cacophony of wonderful wildlife sounds.
30 May 2019: Throwback to 1990 and this photo of a male wood duck by Ed Abbott. Also known as Carolina ducks, these colorful birds seem to find the main pond irresistible. Although we do not see them frequently, it is always a treat when the adults or babies are spotted swimming or, with the babies, walking over lily pads. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #woodducks
27 May 2019: Although most of the Canada geese who either live at or visit the Refuge are seen in the main pond, we regularly see a few in Miller Pond. Our manager was out for a hike near sunset and saw these two with the lovely backdrop of the thick reed growth characteristic of this part of the Refuge.
25 May 2019: Watch this wonderful footage recently taken of a family of beavers while they appeared to be enjoying themselves in the main pond at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. We are delighted to provide a safe and natural environment for this endearing keystone species, who can live freely and naturally without fear of being harmed at the hands of humans. Please support the crucial role our Refuge plays in a country where the destruction of habitat and the persecution of wildlife such as beavers continues so relentlessly.
23 May 2019: Our throwback image this week is from a sketch of a family of American black bears by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. As many of you know, Hope was a prolific sketcher of the natural world around her and we enjoy sharing her work with you. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
20 May 2019: This cranesbill (Geranium genus), is just one of the many flowering plants we have at the Refuge. We found this one in a dry spot near the main pond recently, with a single purple flower.
19th: Urgent appeal to New Jersey residents about proposed deer bow hunt in River Vale
A final decision on whether to allow a proposed deer bow hunt to take place this year in River Vale, NJ, has been postponed until the end of May to allow residents to express their opinion on the issue. This postponement follows a recent council meeting at which around 60 residents attended to express their opposition. Calls for non-lethal means of deer control such as sterilization and relocation have been rejected by the local Council as not acceptable by the State Fish & Game Council. Instead, the proposal is to allow the hunting of deer with bows and arrows. Such a method is inhumane and cruel and likely to result in lengthy suffering to the animals.
Even if you do not live in River Vale, please contact the Mayor and Council as soon as possible, urging them to not allow the bow hunt, but to instead adopt non-lethal means to control the deer population. If you know of people in River Vale, please ask them to write. It is crucial that the Council is aware of the strength of local opinion on this issue.
Write to Mayor Jasionowski and Council Members:
For recent media coverage: https://thepressgroup.net/river-vale-council-pauses-in-considering-deer-bow-hunt/
16th: Throwback to 1966 and this lovely photo of a spicebush swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. The large 'eyes' are thought to provide protection from predators by simulating green snakes. The larvae can also secrete a foul-smelling substance as a deterrent. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
13th: These small protrusions (finger galls) from the leaves of this wild black cherry tree at the Refuge were created by Eriophyes cerasicrumena mites. The latter are tiny (essentially microscopic) arachnids who feed off the sap. The chemicals they secrete cause the plant to produce the galls. Thanks to Jason Hafstad and mertensiavirginica who helped us identify the correct species.
11th: A recent poll commissioned by the Humane Society of the United States shows that New Jersey voters do not want our state to be a safe haven for acts of cruelty to wildlife. Please read and share: https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/05/most-people-are-against-trophy-hunting-baiting-bears-poll-says-so-why-do-we-allow-it.html
9th: Throwback to 1966 and this photo of a raccoon at Otter Dam. This was taken in the evening (notice the 'eyeshine', which is a reflection of light by the tapetum, a structure just behind the retina). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
6th: World leaders urged to take action as UN report declares one million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction
A powerful indictment of the devastating impact human beings are having on nature has been published in a major United Nations report. The report, compiled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), involving 145 experts from 50 countries, looked at changes to the natural world over the past five decades. In that time, while the world's human population doubled, there has been a rapid decline in biodiversity and as many as one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. Key factors causing this collapse in biodiversity are land use (over 70% of agriculture relates to the production of meat), the hunting and exploitation of animals, climate change, pollution and invasive species.
The biggest cause of losses to wildlife is change to habitats. The report states that over half a million land species have insufficient habitat for long-term survival and are likely to go extinct, many within decades, unless their habitats are restored. Between 1980 and 2000, 100 million hectares of tropical forest were lost (mainly from cattle ranching in South America and palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia) and 85% of the world's wetlands have been lost since 1700.
World leaders are being urged to take action. Sir Robert Watson, IPBES Chair, stated: "The Report also tells us that it is not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global."
6th: This male dark-eyed junco was spotted in a tree last February, while we still had snow on the ground. Although the variety we have at the Refuge has slate and white plumage, the color pattern has a wide range depending on the region of the US.
3rd: Unexpected Wildlife Refuge attended the Annual Earth Day Festival hosted by the Atlantic County Utilities Authority in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Earth Day is an annual event that promotes environmental protection. It is a day to celebrate and raises awareness about our Earth and all the wild animals and plants who inhabit it. Tabling at such events plays an important role in the Refuge's educational outreach work, educating the public about our wildlife protection and habitat preservation work. Our team reported a busy day with much interest in the work of the Refuge. Thank you to everyone who visited and supported us.
Please support our important work by making a donation or becoming a volunteer.
2nd: Throwback to June of 1966 for this photo of an eastern phoebe, possibly the mother, and her nest of five youngsters. The parents had built their nest on one of the support beams in a shed near the cabin. They did not seem to mind people going in and out of the shed. We do not know who took this great photo (if someone does, let us know so we can give credit). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
29th: This eastern painted turtle baby, a hatchling from the year before, was making his way across a portion of the lane leading to the main pond. Although there is little vehicular traffic here, we felt it was prudent to give him a helping hand to clear the road. As one should always do, we made sure to place him on the side of the lane he was facing...and watched him carry on into the undergrowth.
25th: Throwback to 1966 and this night-time photo of a beaver working to cut down this poplar tree for food and building materials. It was taken by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. Although some people erroneously believe that beavers will destroy all trees in an area, the truth is that beavers are selective and never 'clear cut' like people do. When there are no more suitable sources of 'food and fiber', the beavers move on to new places where their activities enrich the local ecosystem. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
22nd: This lovely pearl crescent butterfly was seen a while ago gathering nectar from these flowers. The Refuge is home to many butterfly and moth species, often the most colorful residents.
18th: Throwback to 2016 and this trail camera photo of a muskrat. These elusive rodents (but not rats...not that rats are bad) are present at the Refuge, but we rarely get to see them. Sometimes, all we see is a form in the water, someone who appears to be a small beaver. We were lucky to have a trail camera in just the right place to 'capture' this one as he was about to enter the water. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #muskrats
15th: This eastern gray squirrel was foraging for food a short while ago, in the snow. She was probably oblivious to just how cute she looked when she climbed this tree in anticipation of having to flee from us.
12th: NEW JERSEY RESIDENTS:
You have an opportunity to help end barbaric wildlife killing contests in your state (others should sign, too, to show their support). Please read this petition, sign it and share widely:
11th: Throwback to 2012, when students from Rowan University showed up to volunteer at the Refuge. They helped with trail maintenance, general cleanup of the trails and painting of the outhouse. We value and depend on volunteers, whether students or others, and hope you will contact us if interested in lending a hand or two (firstname.lastname@example.org). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
8th: This plant is in the St John's wort family. When Sage Russell visited the Refuge some years ago, he managed to get this lovely photo and shared it with us recently. Notice the delicate flowers giving the plant its name.
7th: Today is International Beaver Day; a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the plight of this iconic species.
Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, co-founder of the Refuge, was a tireless defender of beavers. She spent decades protecting these much-maligned individuals against those who condemned the species as a 'nuisance'. Due to Hope's and many others' efforts, the North American beaver is making a strong comeback, although sadly many continue to be killed. The critical role that this persecuted keystone species plays in maintaining the health of our ecosystem is increasingly being recognized. These original 'eco-engineers' dam rivers and streams, slow water flow, create ponds and help to reduce soil erosion and pollution. Along with other beaver defenders, we work with the public and local governments to peacefully resolve 'conflicts' throughout New Jersey, helping to ensure that beavers will continue to live and flourish. We are proud to continue Hope's legacy in providing a safe haven for beavers and to work hard to protect and promote these wonderful animals.
Please support our important work to help beavers: Donate now
4th: Throwback to 2000 and this photo of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder, and her beaver crossing sign. As many who follow the Refuge know, Hope was enthusiastic, to put it mildly, about beavers. And, this enthusiasm has been 'infectious' every time we watch these intelligent and resourceful rodents go about their lives in their natural habitat. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
1st: While on patrol, Michael, our manager reached the river intersecting the Miller Pond and Unexpected Rd. After an hour overlooking the lush native grasses, sedges, cattail colonies and numerous waterfowl, he noticed a dark form in the waterway. Quietly and effortlessly moving through the river was an adult beaver. Seeing no reason for alarm, she went about her business of inspecting the area while Michael took photos, after which she swam slowly back into the reeds.
28th: Throwback to June of 2002 and this photo of Augie Sexauer providing a lesson about wildlife to a group of children. Augie was an ardent supporter of the Refuge and freely shared his knowledge with our younger visitors. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
25th: This lone black vulture (Coragyps atratus) was seen in a tree near the main pond in February. Also known as American black vultures, the Refuge is home to many of these large birds. Although some people view them as 'ugly', we see them as beautiful, vital members of a thriving ecosystem.
23rd: We have two new entries in our 'Beavers in the News Media' page, articles by Ben Goldsmith and Brandon Hansen. Choose Wildlife > Beavers from the main menu and click on 'Beavers in the News' or click here for direct access.
22nd: A delightful first-hand account of the history of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge by Dr Ned Buyukmihci, President and Secretary, has been published in SoJourn 3.2 Winter 2018/19. The article -- Unexpected Wildlife Refuge: Haven for South Jersey Wildlife -- is full of photographs and interesting anecdotes about this unique and fascinating protected habitat, home to endangered and threatened wildlife in South Jersey, like the gray tree frog pictured here.
21st: Throwback to 1989 and this photo of a placid-appearing great crested flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus) taken by Ray Davis. Although insects are their primary source of nourishment -- usually caught in flight -- they also eat berries or other plant material. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #greatcrestedflycatchers
18th: Although taken some months ago, we thought this photo of a female red velvet ant (Dasymutilla occidentalis) would be nice to share as spring approaches. Bear in mind that these 'ants' are in reality a type of wasp. The female is wingless and looks like a large ant. Also known as cow ants, cow killers and eastern velvet ants, they can deliver a very painful sting so 'watch, do not touch' (not that you should try to touch wildlife).
15th: Refuge attends annual Lines on the Pines event
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge had a busy time yesterday at the annual Lines on the Pines event (Sun 10th March 2019). There was lots of interest in the work of the Refuge. Thank you to everyone who visited and supported our educational stand.
14th: Throwback to 1965 and this photo of two young beavers (called Goldie and Fluffy by us) and Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. This was taken by Al Francesconi at a time when we were allowing the 'befriending' of wildlife. We believe now that this can lead to tragedy for wildlife who may not know who is friend or foe with respect to people. Please bear that in mind when you interact with any wild animal. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
12th: Annual Earth Day Cleanup
Join us this year on Sunday, 7 April at 11:00 AM, for Unexpected Wildlife Refuge's annual Earth Day Cleanup! Armed with gloves and bags, we will meet at the Refuge and walk out to Piney Hollow Road to collect trash along a two-mile stretch that is adjacent Refuge trails. This is an important and long-time event for us -- the photo shows Paula Dean in 2017 -- not only to clean up our environment in general, but also to gather debris before it migrates into the Refuge. We pick up and cut plastic beverage ring holders, particularly hazardous for animals. Items that are recyclable are separated from others for proper disposal. Afterwards, we will meet back by the main pond for a potluck vegan lunch. To keep our expenses down, we ask that each volunteer bring one or more vegan items to share with everyone. Please, no beverages in plastic bottles. If we know ahead of time, we can provide a barbecue venue (a bag of charcoal would be appreciated).
To RSVP, E-mail us at email@example.com or call us at 856.697.3541 before March 31.
7th: Throwback to 2007 (we believe) and this photo of a mural in the Dennison, Ohio, Post Office. This was produced by Edmund J Sawyer, father of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. It is a beautiful rendition of now extinct passenger pigeons. When he was alive, Edmund related to us that he used to see the sky obscured by these wonderful, gentle birds during their migrations. Tragically, hunting and a view that they were 'plentiful' eliminated this species from the planet. This should be a poignant reminder to us all that all non-human species are threatened -- despite how many individuals there are and what 'officials' say about them -- and that there is no such thing as overpopulation. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #passengerpigeons
4th: Three Canada geese (Branta canadensis) hauled out of the freezing main pond to spend some time on one of the little islands, grooming and relaxing. These geese are ubiquitous at this time of year and never fail to bring a smile to our faces.
28th: Throwback to 1966 and this great photo of a ruffed grouse 'caught' during his drumming sequence. We are not sure who the photographer was, but it was likely Al Francesconi or Refuge co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #ruffedgrouse
27th: New Jersey to allow snow goose hunting during February-April 2019
The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife is to implement a "Spring light goose Conservation Order" that allows the hunting and killing of this migratory bird. 'Light goose' is the collective name applied to greater snow geese, lesser snow geese and Ross's geese. (See end of last paragraph for what you can do.)
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 established Federal protection that prohibited, unless allowed by regulations, to hunt, capture and kill migratory birds. However, since spring 2009, many Atlantic Flyway states, including New Jersey, have implemented a Conservation Order (CO) for light geese. A CO is a special 'management' action, authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and is used to control a wildlife population when traditional management programs are deemed unsuccessful in preventing 'overpopulation' of a species. (See our wildlife Myths page for why the issues of 'management' and 'overpopulation' are ridiculous and extremely inhumane concepts.)
Other states to hold similar hunts this year are Delaware, Maryland, Vermont, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The Conservation Order allows an extended time period outside of traditional hunting seasons as well as additional methods for hunting these birds without bag limits; including the use of electronic calls, unplugged shotguns, and extended hunting hours up to 1/2 hour after sunset.
Snow geese breed in Greenland, Arctic North America and Siberia -- some migrate south in the autumn to spend the winter on the Atlantic coast of the USA. Snow geese often spend their winters at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. The arrival of a flock of noisy snow geese at the Refuge is a welcome sight. Snow geese usually live in very large flocks; pairs mate for life and create very close bonds with each other and their young. Families remain together through the youngs' first winter and can be identified as groups during both the southern and northern migrations. It is appalling to know that in New Jersey, and other states, members of these close families can be randomly blasted out of the sky. We do not know what can be done to prevent this, but you could contact the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife and voice your objection so that at least they know not everyone agrees with their 'management' decisions. Contact information is here: https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/contact.htm.
26th: Beavers are to become a protected species in Scotland
The Eurasian or European beaver (Castor fiber) is to be added to the list of European Protected Species of Animals in Scotland. From May 2019, it will become an offense to kill, injure or capture the animals. Beavers have been extinct in Scotland for around 400 years but, a few years ago, were reintroduced to Argyll and Tayside. Under the new protection, beavers will now be allowed to expand their range naturally.
The Scottish Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said:
The Scottish Government believes in the highest standards of animal welfare -- for both wild and domestic animals -- and we felt it was high time that beavers enjoyed the same legal protection as other species like bats, dolphins, wildcats and otters.' She said: 'There are few species that have such significant and, largely positive, influence on the health and function of our ecosystems. The importance of beavers to Scotland's biodiversity is huge.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is delighted that the vital role beavers play in the world's ecosystem continues to be recognized. Beavers benefit nature and are important 'ecosystem engineers'; their activities can create wetland habitats and enhance biodiversity.
There has been widespread support for the decision for beavers to become a protected species.
According to the Scottish Natural Heritage:
The return of beavers to Scotland and their recognition as European Protected Species heralds one of the most significant changes to the natural environment in many years.
Barbara Smith, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland said:
The granting of European Protected Status is a vital step in welcoming beavers back to Scotland as a natural part of our ecosystem. This is a milestone for the many of us who have worked together for years on the return of this species.
Scottish Natural Heritage will provide free and expert advice to help people who are experiencing problems with beavers and where possible to provide humane measures to minimize damage. Sadly, for the beaver, this new protection will not prevent the granting of a license to use lethal means where there is considered to be no alternative.
For further information:
25th: These gnawed stumps were located many meters from one of the ponds. They serve to illustrate the industriousness of beavers in seeking food and building materials...as well as the powerfulness of their jaws and teeth in gnawing through wood.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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:
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
4th: Another nice photo of plants at the Refuge, provided by Sage Russell. This one is of wild sarsaparilla, circa 2012.
31st: Throwback to 1967 and this exceptional photo of a tufted titmouse, taken by Al Francesconi. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #tuftedtitmouse
28th: A long-distance photo of a great egret flying near the outer border of the main pond during a fall day.
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
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
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:
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Further details can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/end-brutal-coyote-whacking-in-wyoming?fbclid=IwAR0YXNUKHBIFb1ufZt2VNj-wprNE_p_4SbNAz2RAuNwv05ja18GHn726yPA
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
14th: This beaver lodge is on the far side of the main pond. Our habitat continues to entice beavers to stay and raise families.
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).
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/
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
7th: From earlier and warmer days at the Refuge, a bumblebee was gathering food from this buttonbush.
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/
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