Beavers at the Refuge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Access into the Refuge after snow, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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American bullfrog in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Bald-faced hornet, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Baltimore oriole, photo by Leor Veleanu
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Beavers near their lodge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Buttonbush, photo by Sage Russell
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Canada goose in flight, photo by Richard Rosenberg
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Cicada, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Cinnabar chanterelle fungus, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Crayfish, 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

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News 2020

White-tailed deer along main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
White-tailed deer
Beaver in Miller Pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

23 January 2020: Great news: Beaver trapping and deer poaching bills are stopped!

We are delighted to report two bills that would have removed restrictions on killing beavers and deer in NJ have been stopped. In the case of S3407/A2731, the beaver trapping bill, Governor Murphy vetoed it this week after it was voted through by the Assembly and Senate.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our urgent appeals and contacted their legislators and Governor Murphy to stop these appalling bills. You had a positive influence on wildlife in NJ!

In the meantime, UWR will continue to protect and defend beavers and deer (and others), many of whom, like those pictured, enjoy a safe haven at our Refuge.

Please support our important work and help us do even more for wildlife.

Viceroy butterfly, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Viceroy butterfly

23 January 2020: Throwback to the summer of 2015 and this viceroy butterfly resting on the ground near headquarters. The Refuge is a haven for many species of butterflies. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #viceroybutterflies
(thanks to Jack Holloway for correcting our original misidentification of this species as the similar monarch butterfly)

Main pond with frozen surface, snow, paw prints and lens flare, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Main pond

20 January 2019: Although this photo was taken a while ago, we anticipate once more enjoying the transformation of the main pond from water to snow-covered ice this year. Look closely and you can see the tracks of someone who had crossed over the frozen surface on the right.

Ruffed grouse drawing by Edmund J Sawyer

16 January 2020: Throwback to many years ago and this detailed drawing of a ruffed grouse by Edmund J Sawyer, artist, naturalist and father of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Edmund spent a considerable part of his life in nature, drawing those he saw around him. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

Blue shark, photo by Mark Conlin
Blue shark
Mark Conlin

14 January 2020: New Jersey to ban the possession, sale, trade and distribution of shark fins

We are delighted to report that shark fins will be banned in New Jersey from 1st January 2021, under a new law signed by Gov Phil Murphy, making New Jersey the 14th state to introduce such a ban. The new legislation will prohibit the sale, trade, distribution or offering for sale of shark fins, as well as the possession of any shark fin that is separated from a shark who is caught and released.

Thank you to everyone who responded to our appeal and contacted their Assembly members last November, urging them to support the bill to end this cruel trade. Primary sponsors of the legislation include Senator Troy Singleton, and Assemblypersons Raj Mukherji, John Armato and Vincent Mazzeo.

Every year, millions of sharks are brutally mutilated so that people can have "shark fin soup". The fins of captured sharks are usually sliced off while the sharks are still alive. The sharks are then thrown back into the sea to suffer a prolonged and painful death. Not only is this appallingly cruel, sharks are also being pushed to extinction. This important bill will end New Jersey's contribution to the global trade in shark fins by stopping the fin sale within the state.

In a statement, Gov Phil Murphy said: Shark fins are often obtained in a very inhumane manner that causes much suffering to the animal...I am proud to sign this law that will prevent the catch and release of sharks for the purpose of cutting off their fins.

American bullfrog along a perimeter trail, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

13 January 2020: This American bullfrog was seen deep in the woods, where a seasonal pool of water had formed. He watched us for a few moments and then disappeared into the pool, but hung around, surfacing at different points.

Woodcock drawing by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder
Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

9 January 2020: Throwback to years ago and this sketch of a woodcock flying over a pond. It was done by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. We are fortunate to have many of Hope's drawings to enjoy and share with others. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory

Northern red-bellied turtle preparing nest, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Northern red-bellied turtle
preparing nest

6 January 2020: This northern red-bellied turtle chose to lay her eggs along the driveway between the barn and the old cabin. We did not get to see the babies hatch and dig their way out, but look forward to seeing them next spring in the main pond.

Eastern hog-nosed snake, photo by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder
Eastern hog-nosed snake
Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

2 January 2020: Throwback to 1984 and this photo of an eastern hog-nosed snake taken by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. One of the first things these snakes do when scared is to flatten their heads like this one has, to mimic a venomous snake (notice the tongue sampling the air around him). If that does not work, they resort to vomiting and then playing dead. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #easternhognosedsnakes

Juvenile black vultures, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Juvenile black vultures

1 January 2020: Wishing all our supporters a happy and peaceful New Year. Thank you to everyone who has supported Unexpected Wildlife Refuge during 2019. Your generosity is crucial and enables us to fulfill our mission to protect natural habitat and provide a haven for the indigenous wildlife of New Jersey, including the many endangered and threatened species who call the Refuge home.

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