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22 October 2020: Throwback to 2017 and this blusher mushroom. The first photo shows its appearance on the first day we saw it. When we came back the next day, the caps had opened up (second photo). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
19 October 2020: Images of the day: This relatively diminutive rusty spider wasp had just found and paralyzed her prey, a large spider (dark fishing or wolf), in preparation for her offspring. Of course, we feel bad for the spider...
15 October 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this crayfish who was wandering a bit far from water, near one of the many trails at the Refuge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
12 October 2020: Image of the day: This northern water snake broke the surface of Miller Pond to look around, with bits of duckweed sticking to her head.
8 October 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this striking buttercup oil beetle. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
6 October 2020: NJ Fish and Game Council propose amendment to suspend bear hunt, but not until next year, thereby condemning hundreds of bears to their death over the next few weeks
The NJ Fish and Game Council, which in 2015 approved annual bear hunts as part of a 5-year management plan, is proposing an amendment that would suspend the hunt from next year and prioritize non-lethal management strategies - such as public education and stringent enforcement of trash maintenance in locations inhabited by bears.
Although we are hopeful such a proposal will be approved, it falls woefully short on at least two counts: 1) there is no guarantee the amendment will be approved and 2) critically for bears now, the hunt will continue this year, resulting in the slaughter of hundreds of these sentient beings. The hunt is due to start on October 12th, so the next few days are crucial.
Governor Murphy, who has repeatedly stated he would end the bear hunt, could stop the hunt from going ahead this year by issuing an executive order.
We urge you to take immediate action to help the bears: Urge Governor Murphy to sign an executive order against the hunt:
5 October 2020: Image of the day: This parent and two fledgling black vultures were seen walking down the driveway near Headquarters. The family had used the cabin barn attic for their nesting site.
1 October 2020: Throwback to many years ago to this color sketch of a male red-winged blackbird displaying. It was done by Edmund J Sawyer, renowned wildlife artist and father and inspiration to his daughter and Refuge co-founder, Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci (and other family members). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
28 September 2020: Images of the day: This male black saddlebags dragonfly was 'skimming' around Miller Pond. Our manager was patient enough to get a photo of him in three venues.
24 September 2020: Throwback to 2017 and these striped skunk babies who 'photographed' themselves by walking in front of one of our trail cameras. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
21 September 2020: Image of the day: This lone 'common' grackle was either singing or calling to someone from a tree near Headquarters.
21 September 2020: Urgent action needed to stop cruel bear hunt on 12th October
It is just three weeks until the 2020 bear hunt is due to start in New Jersey. From 12th October, hunters will be able to use bows and arrows to kill these majestic and sentient animals. But, there is still time for Governor Murphy to stop this appalling cruelty to bears in New Jersey. Please join us in urging Governor Murphy to either issue an executive order, especially because we are still in the middle of a pandemic, or grant the rule-making petition filed by APLNJ/Bear Group and a coalition of organizations to repeal the bear policy.
Please call Governor Murphy's office on: 609-292-6000 by Thursday, September 24, and ask him to do two things:
1. Cancel this year's bear hunt on all lands with an executive order.
2. Cancel future hunts by granting the rule-making petition to repeal the bear policy.
You can also contact Governor Murphy on this Web form: https://www.nj.gov/governor/contact/all/
Or via Twitter/Facebook:
Twitter: @GovMurphy #SaveNJBears
Please also sign & share Senator Lesniak's Bear Protection Petition: https://www.lesniakinstitute.org/bears/#section1
19 September 2020: Washington bans wildlife killing contests
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is delighted to learn that Washington's Fish and Wildlife Commission recently voted 7 to 2 to ban wildlife killing contests. Wildlife killing contests involve the organized and mass killing of wild animals, including species such as bobcats, coyotes and foxes, where participants compete for cash prizes. This is great news for wildlife and demonstrates the growing opposition there is to these gruesome events.
Washington is now the seventh state in the country to ban these contests, along with Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Vermont. New York and Oregon are also considering laws on the issue.
Despite their abject inhumanity, wildlife killing contests continue to take place in New Jersey. Here is how you can help to stop this:
17 September 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this stunning (to us) lion's mane mushroom (fungus) growing on a tree along one of the trails. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
14 September 2020: Image of the day: British soldiers lichen in the wetlands northeast of the main pond.
10 September 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this trail camera photo of a male wood duck swimming near a beaver lodge on which stood a great blue heron, reflected in the water. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
8 September 2020: *Call for Volunteers*
On Sunday, September 27, UWR will co-host a local fundraising event with TnT Cycling of Lumberton, NJ. Event participants will bike along routes from White Horse Winery in Hammonton to Bellview Winery in Landisville. Proceeds benefit the Refuge.
We will have tables set up at 3 locations along the bike route: one at White Horse Winery (106 Hall St, Hammonton, NJ 08037), one at Bellview Winery (150 Atlantic St., Landisville, NJ 08326) and another at a central location, to be determined. We could use the help of a volunteer or two at each table to help hand out snacks, water, etc. Volunteers are needed from 7am-1pm.
The event is rain or shine. We will practice social distancing and face masks are required.
If you would like to help out with this event please contact us:
7 September 2020: Image of the day: This Canada goose and belted kingfisher shared a quiet moment on the other side of the main pond.
3 September 2020: Throwback to years ago and this sketch of a red-tailed hawk by Edmund J Sawyer, father of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. Edmund, an ardent naturalist and artist, was an inspiration to Hope and the rest of her family. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
31 August 2020: Image of the day: This green frog ('green' is part of the name) was resting in this vernal pool of water off Miller Pond.
17 August 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this photo of a tranquil main pond with rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
25 August 2020: Unexpected Wildlife Refuge has joined a coalition of animal and environmental organizations calling on The White House to support a G20 Ban on the Wildlife Trade: Coalition of animal and environmental organizations calls on The White House to support a G20 Ban on the Wildlife Trade
The Coalition, which is led by World Animal Protection and represents more than 10 million supporters across the United States, has sent a letter urging the US Government to support a permanent ban on wild animal markets that could become sources for future pandemics and to commit to ending international trade in wild animals and their products, at the upcoming G20 Leaders' Summit taking place in November 2020.
The United States is one of the leading importers of wildlife, importing more than 224 million live animals and 883 million parts of the bodies of wildlife every year. It has the responsibility to take a leadership role in making sure the G20 acts to protect wildlife and prevent future pandemics, by committing to end the international trade in wild animals and wild animal products.
24 August 2020: Image of the day: This bald eagle was calling to someone, perhaps a mate, from this tree next to the main pond.
20 August 2020: Throwback to years ago and this photo of one of the many beaver lodges at the Refuge. Although we do not know the date when this was taken, it clearly was sometime on a cold winter's day judging from all the snow. The beavers, of course, would have been curled up and comfortable inside. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
17 August 2020: Image of the day: This male giant water bug ('giant' being part of his official name) was scampering across these lily pads in the main pond. Note the eggs he was carrying on his back.
15 August 2020: Coalition set up to stop the bear hunt in New Jersey
A coalition of twelve organizations, including Animal Protection League of NJ and the League of Humane Voters of NJ, has filed a petition with the Department of Environmental Protection in New Jersey to repeal rules permitting bear hunting.
The Coalition has also sent a letter to Governor Murphy urging him to issue an executive order to stop the 2020 bear hunt.
Please register your support for the campaign by signing and sharing the petition to help these iconic and majestic animals: LET'S END THE BEAR HUNT.
Hunting bears is cruel and inflicts substantial suffering on these sentient animals. Shocking practices allowed in NJ include the driving of bears off state lands to permit their killing; the killing of female bears with cubs and the cubs themselves; the use of bows and arrows and muzzleloader guns weapons that are not only archaic, but also inflict the most suffering and often result in wounded animals escaping only to suffer a lingering death. Not only is this brutal treatment of bears unacceptable, there are alternative, humane and effective methods that can be adopted to address human-bear conflicts.
Further information: Coalition To Stop The Bear Hunt Files Petition With DEP To Void Regulations Permitting Bear Hunts.
13 August 2020: Throwback to 2018 and this colorful red-spotted purple butterfly. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
10 August 2020: Image of the day: This white-footed mouse was peering at us 'safely' from behind this tree trunk. She became comfortable enough to do a bit of facial grooming.
6 August 2020: Throwback to years ago and this sketch of a wood duck family by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. Note the two ducklings on their way down from the nest and the one who just made contact with the water. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
3 August 2020: Image of the day: This eastern mud turtle was heading to the Headquarters area to lay her eggs.
30 July 2020: Throwback to decades ago and this delightful color sketch of an oriole done by Edmund J Sawyer. Edmund was the father of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder, and inspiration for her love of wildlife. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
27 July 2020: The Refuge is home to many wild turkeys. We often hear them without having the pleasure of seeing them. We recently found one of their egg shells along a trail. We are sure there is a story there...
25 July 2020: UWR condemns 'solution' to dealing with beaver conflict in Alberta, Canada
UWR has condemned a lethal policy approved by Sturgeon County in Alberta, Canada, in which farmers and property owners will be given $20 from the government in exchange for a beaver's tail as an incentive to kill the animals.
Read more below, but please send polite, urgent E-mail to the following, calling on Sturgeon County and the Alberta government to implement a national strategy that will protect and conserve beaver populations using humane methods of control:
This inhumane policy, which is due to begin this August, has been agreed in an attempt to control beaver populations in heavily flooded areas, where it is claimed beavers are building dams and blocking culverts. Apparently, other Albertan towns have also offered similar incentives.
Mayor Alanna Hnatiw of Sturgeon County is quoted in the news media:
Beavers are an important part of Sturgeon County's ecological system that bring many benefits to our landscape, but in situations where beavers dam water and cause overland flooding it can cause substantial damage to County infrastructure and private property, and mitigation methods are sometimes necessary.
It is outrageous that beavers, an iconic keystone species, are being treated in this appalling way. Their important role in maintaining the health of our ecosystem is increasingly being recognized, even by Sturgeon County, yet the 'solution' to problems is to condemn these sentient animals to death for a $20 bounty. Instead, we urge Sturgeon County, and the Alberta government, to use humane, non-lethal methods of population control that will enable people to coexist with the beavers.
For further information: https://www.narcity.com/news/ca/ab/edmonton/albertas-new-beaver-bounty-is-basically-hiring-beaver-hitmen-for-20-a-tail
23 July 2020: Throwback to spring of 2016 and this photo of a black rat snake 'hiding' in vegetation along a trail. The Refuge is home to a variety of snakes and we see members of this species commonly, often near Headquarters. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #Blackratsnakes
20 July 2020: This northern cricket frog was seen along Bluebird Trail. These diminutive frogs get their name from the clicking sound they make, similar to that of crickets.
17 July 2020: Paul Leakan, a photographer and wildlife enthusiast with NJ Pinelands Commission, recently visited the Refuge. He shared with us some of the photos and video he took and posted on his Instagram account:
16 July 2020: Throwback to winter of 2016 and this photo of a swan visiting the Refuge, spending some time in the main pond. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
13 July 2020: This white-tailed deer doe was foraging on the other side of the main pond, requiring the telephoto feature to get the photo. We do not know if she saw us, but, typical of deer, she never lowered her head for more than a few seconds, surveying the surrounding area regularly.
12 July 2020: Support A4324/S2640 to protect the Monk parakeet
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is supporting a call by the Animal Protection League of New Jersey to pass bills A4324/S2640. This proposed legislation would remove the Monk parakeet from the list of "potentially dangerous" species in NJ. Removal from this list will enable the Monk parakeet, including any nest or egg, to be protected. Such protection will help to prevent the cruel destruction and removal of nests, eggs and unfledged birds and, instead, allow wild parrot rescuers to help utility companies with humane alternatives.
Although not native to the US, Monk parakeets, also known as Quaker parrots, were introduced by the thousands in the 1990s as 'pets'. From then followed the usual scenario for situations like these: individuals escaped or were purposefully released and were able to establish themselves. Concern for agriculture and other species prompted NJ to consider the birds "potentially dangerous". This has been shown to be false. Regardless, it is not the birds' fault that they are in this predicament. Rather, it is, once again, human activity that has created the problem. At this time, the only fair and humane approach would be to consider the birds part of the ecosystem and to provide them with protection like other birds.
Please urge your state legislators to co-sponsor and support A4324/S2640. If you do not know who your legislators are or how to contact them, click here for the legislative contact Web page.
And, please thank the sponsors:
A4324 - Assemblyperson Valerie Vainieri Huttle - E-mail or Tweet @valerie_huttle
S2640 - Senator Loretta Weinberg - E-mail
9 July 2020: Throwback to winter of 1979 and this black and white photo of the main pond with ice and snow. It was taken for an article in the New Brunswick Home News, a sharp contrast to the lily pad laden waters at this time of year (summer). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
6 July 2020: This delicate male spicebush swallowtail butterfly was resting among shrubbery alongside Cedar Bridge Trail.
4 July 2020: Unexpected Wildlife Refuge thanks the Outdoor Club of South Jersey (OCSJ) for their generous donation of $1,000 to help us in our mission to protect wildlife. Representatives Pat Burton, Chris Denneler and Millicent Moore came to the Refuge in June to present us with the check. On hand were Jen Collins, our manager, and Trustee Dave Sauder (see photo, taken by Millicent; from left to right: Pat, Chris, Jen and Dave). We greatly appreciate this 'unexpected' help and hope others will join OCSJ in supporting the Refuge.
2 July 2020: Throwback to many years ago to this sketch of a mother beaver and her kits watching the sun set. Done by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder, it is one of several hundred sketches of beavers and other wildlife in our archives. You might also be interested in a short article by Hope we found, in which she points out that it is not only human animals who have language (Is it safe to come near you?). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
29 June 2020: These baby groundhogs were venturing away from their nest last summer, in search of food. Also called woodchucks, groundhogs are highly territorial. Despite the disturbance caused by the construction of our new Headquarters, it appears that a family of them, perhaps the same from last year, has once again taken residence nearby. We look forward to seeing babies once again.
25 June 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this Cooper's hawk eyeing us from a tree. Other names listed for this bird of prey include big blue darter, chicken hawk, flying cross, hen hawk, quail hawk, striker and swift hawk. A lovely being by any name. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #Coopershawks
22 June 2020: This eastern mud turtle 'obligingly' hauled out of the main pond onto a log long enough for us to get these photos. Often mistaken for musk turtles, the mud turtle has a relatively smooth carapace and no ridge along the top. They are listed as endangered in Indiana.
18 June 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this lovely black racer snake. The Refuge is a haven for many species of snakes. We even saw a timber rattlesnake many years ago. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
15 June 2020: One of our trail cameras 'captured' this small flock of turkeys passing through the area. The birds appeared to spend a few minutes deciding on what to do next and then took off in the original direction of travel. Always a delight to see.
11 June 2020: Throwback to 1971 and this photo of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder, on one of the many boardwalks throughout the Refuge. This was taken for a story published by the Philly Inquirer. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
8 June 2020: This is just one of the many swampy areas at the Refuge, areas that are critical habitat for many animals and plants. The Refuge is highly diverse, offering a wide variety of species to thrive.
4 June 2020: Throwback to many years ago and this photo of Maria and her 4-month-old child. Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder, spent many hundreds of hours observing the beavers at the Refuge and would name them in order to 'personalize' them. Whether named, Hope could always tell one beaver from another, often because of unique behavioral traits and not just obvious differences in physical appearance. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
1 June 2020: This male Luna moth 'visited' our Miller House recently. This species is one of the larger moths seen here. Although we have not yet heard this, the larvae may produce a clicking sound using their mandibles when threatened. They may also regurgitate a predator-deterring substance.
28 May 2020: Throwback to 1962 and this delightful water-color of a red squirrel by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. You can purchase an unmarked copy of this sketch through our Zazzle store #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
27 May 2020: Today is World Otter Day
It is a day for people around the world to celebrate these playful and engaging animals, at the same time raising awareness about how endangered otters are and the threats they face. The latter include habitat loss, pollution and hunting for their fur and sale as 'pets'.
There are 13 species of otter worldwide, all listed in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The status of some of these species, especially those from Asia such as the small-clawed and smooth-coated otters, is of particular concern. In countries such as Japan, there has been an increase in demand for otters as 'pets' following their appearance on social media platforms and television programs featuring celebrities with otters. This has led to an increase in the trapping and trafficking of Asian otters. As a result, in 2019, the Asian small-clawed and smooth-coated otters were included in Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction; trade in these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
The USA and Canada have two species of otter, the North American river otter and the sea otter. Although the sea otter, whose populations are declining, receives some protection, thousands of river otters are allowed to be trapped and killed each year for their fur, including in the state of New Jersey.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is a protected natural habitat and haven for the North American river otter who, like the one pictured, can live freely here, without fear of being harmed by humans. Please help us to continue our important mission to protect these species by making a donation today.
25 May 2020: This clump of 'mud' is a beaver scent mound, one of many we see throughout the Refuge. Beavers are territorial animals and use mud and other substrates to create these mounds on which they deposit urine-based material to warn others that 'this place is taken'. The more beaver families there are in a particular area, the more scent mounds will be present in order to delineate each family's territory.
22 May 2020: It is International Biodiversity Day, a day sanctioned by the United Nations for the promotion of biodiversity - the variety of life on earth. A day when we celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild animals and plants and their habitats. With around 25% of all animal and plant species globally threatened with extinction, raising awareness of campaigning against the impact that humans have on our ecosystems has never been more important.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is part of a unique ecosystem - the Pine Barrens - and plays an important role in protecting forest, fields, bogs and waterways. By doing so, we provide a haven for many species, including some officially listed as endangered or threatened in New Jersey.
Find out more on the plant and animal species at the Refuge and how you can support our work, by going to our Web site: http://unexpectedwildliferefuge.org/
21 May 2020: Throwback to a cold, snowy day in November of 2009. You can see the trail leading to Squirrel Haven ahead and our iconic Refuge sign, which Jeffrey Lawrenson made for us in 2002. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
19 May 2020: Outrage over beaver killings in Scotland: Let the UK know this is unacceptable
Last year, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge reported what we thought was good news, that after years of persecution, the Eurasian or European beaver (Castor fiber) had been added to the list of European Protected Species of Animals in Scotland. This purportedly would have made it an offense to kill, injure or capture the animals. This new protection, however, does not prevent the granting of a license by the authorities to use lethal means if considered "necessary". In response to a recent freedom of information request, it has been revealed that, shockingly, around one hundred beavers have been legally killed in Tayside. One can only conclude that the unofficial persecution of this keystone species has simply been replaced by sanctioned killing.
A Green Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), Mark Ruskell, stated: "If reports are accurate, this level of culling will have made a devastating impact on the population of a supposedly protected species. The licensing scheme appears to have just legitimised the free for all killing spree that happened before the protected status was granted."
James Nairne, spokesperson for the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, which campaigns to protect beavers said: "These shocking figures represent a substantial part of the entire UK beaver population. If accurate, they completely undermine the Scottish Government's commitments to protecting nature and tackling biodiversity loss. Instead of sanctioning killing, the environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, urgently needs to endorse translocation of beaver families from low-lying farmland to suitable habitat in other areas in Scotland where their biodiversity enhancing benefits are sorely needed."
Please send polite E-mail to the following, calling on the Sottish Government to implement a national strategy that will protect and conserve beaver populations using humane methods of control:
Further information: https://theferret.scot/beavers-killed-tayside-scottish-natural-heritage/
18 May 2020: This female American black duck was perched on a stump in the main pond. She was not alone, however, as the rest of her flock was a short distance away. Although the male and female of this species appear different (dimorphic), there is not the striking contrast as with mallards, with whom black ducks may be confused.
15 May 2020: Today is Endangered Species Day! It is a day to celebrate biodiversity across the globe and to protect our threatened and endangered species. Unexpected Wildlife Refuge protects habitat and provides a haven to many species classified as endangered or threatened by various authorities, including the bald eagle, Pine Barrens tree frog, timber rattlesnake, red-headed woodpecker, barred owl and pine snake (pictured here). Find out more on our animal species status page and help support our important work.
14 May 2020: Throwback to 2015 and this aerial view of the old cabin and main pond, courtesy Cliff Compton. Although we do not (yet) have an aerial view of the new headquarters building, which has replaced the cabin, you can still see the contrast with the view of it from across the main pond. We are very close to completion. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
12 May 2020: URGENT ACTION needed to protect US national wildlife refuges
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has proposed new and expanded hunting and fishing 'opportunities' at 97 national wildlife refuges and nine national fish hatcheries. The proposal would cover more than 2.3 million acres and represents the largest single expansion of hunting and fishing on federal properties in FWS history.
The proposal would allow fishing for the first time at several national wildlife refuges, including San Diego Bay in California and Everglades Headwaters in Florida; alligator hunting at three national wildlife refuges, including Banks Lake in Georgia and Laguna Atascosa in Texas; hunting of bobcats, foxes, and mountain lions at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, and in Oregon, migratory bird hunting will be allowed for the first time at Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.
In New Jersey, the proposal would expand existing fishing to new areas in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, more than 47,000 acres of southern New Jersey coastal habitats and wetlands.
We need to extend the protection of wildlife at our national refuges, not extend opportunities to kill the animals, making a mockery of the designation as "refuges".
What you can and should do:
Please post your objections to this proposal. Go to this link and click the "Comment Now" button for "20202021 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations": https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FWS-HQ-NWRS-2020-0013
The deadline for comments is 8 June 2020.
11 May 2020: These eastern painted turtles 'posed' long enough for Trustee Leor Veleanu to get this great photo for our galleries. Although painted turtles are not rare at the Refuge, it is always a treat to see them sunning themselves on whatever protrudes from the main pond (or other ponds at the Refuge).
7 May 2020: Throwback to years ago and this 'simple' pencil sketch of a catbird family by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. We have many examples of what might be considered 'unfinished' sketches she made and put aside for a later day. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
6 May 2020: Ah, spring is here and new life is emerging, like this tiny eastern painted turtle (notice the sand on his carapace). He seems very determined to make it to the main pond.
5 May 2020: Global analysis finds insect populations have declined by 25% since 1990
A recent analysis of insect data was published in Science and reported in The Guardian. It showed a disturbing drop of almost 25% in insect populations globally in the last 30 years, with the worst decline in Europe. The data were compiled from 166 long-term surveys of insect gatherings across 1676 sites the largest assessment to date to investigate trends in insect abundance over time. Although freshwater insects showed an increase in numbers, most insects are terrestrial and in decline. Habitat destruction, pesticides and visible light pollution are major drivers in the decline in insect populations.
Insects, like the bumblebee shown here on a wild daffodil at the Refuge, are crucial to ecosystems. They aerate the soil, pollinate plants, are food for others and many, especially beetles, are scavengers who feed on dead animals and fallen trees, recycling nutrients back into the soil. The Refuge is home to many insect species, not all catalogued to date, which you can see on our Web site (under Wildlife or Galleries).
4 May 2020: This delicate water strider was skimming the surface on Miller Pond. Also known as water bugs or pond skaters (among other names), their legs are hydrophobic, taking advantage of the high surface tension of water, allowing the insects to float and walk on water.
2 May 2020: Colorado bans wildlife killing contests
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is delighted to learn that Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission has voted to end wildlife killing contests involving species such as bobcats, coyotes, foxes and prairie dogs. This is great news for wildlife and demonstrates the growing opposition there is to these cruel events, where participants compete for cash or other prizes for killing wild animals.
Colorado is now the sixth state in the country to ban these contests, along with Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Vermont, states that have some form of a ban on wildlife killing contests. New York and Oregon are also considering laws on the issue.
Similar cruel wildlife killing contests still take place in New Jersey. Here is how you can help to stop this:
30 April 2020: Throwback to 2016 and a cold, winter day. Not many animals were out and about, but this brown thrasher was seen in the snow-laden bushes near the main pond (covered in snow in the background). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #brownthrashers
27 April 2020: This American mink was 'caught' by one of our trail cameras as she suddenly spotted a North American river otter nearby. She wisely turned and ran off into the swamp as the otter and a companion came running into view. You can see the entire sequence in our Trail camera gallery. Notice the beaver-gnawed tree to the right.
23 April 2020: Throwback to 2016 and this northern red-bellied turtle seen a short distance from the shore of the main pond. We are fortunate to have a thriving population of these turtles. This species is considered endangered or threatened in some states. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #redbelliedturtles
20 April 2020: This black vulture couple was seen on the roof of our cabin barn. We watched them grooming until they made their way to the peak and started looking down at the opening into the attic. They were later seen entering the attic, presumably to prepare a nest. Last year, a couple -- perhaps the same one -- nested there and we were fortunate to observe the youngsters as they fledged.
16 April 2020: Throwback to 1975 and this heart-rending photo of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci and Chopper, a beaver she rescued and raised from baby to young adult. The story of Chopper is one of great joy and sadness, which you can read about in our Beavers page. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
13 April 2020: Among the hundreds of plant species we see at the Refuge is the rough sunflower. This lovely flower was seen at the end of last summer. We are looking forward to more as the weather gets warmer.
9 April 2020: Throwback to this sketch of a zebra by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Although Hope's artwork often comprised animals she observed at the Refuge, she would sometimes 'stray' to others, whether wild or domestic. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
7 April 2020: Today is International Beaver Day! It is a day when we celebrate this wonderful iconic keystone species.
Our co-founder, Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, dedicated her life to protecting and defending beavers. Thanks to Hope and others, this long-persecuted rodent has made a comeback, and the role these original 'eco-engineers' play in maintaining the health of our ecosystem is increasingly being recognized in the US and elsewhere. Despite this, however, beavers continue to be hunted and killed in New Jersey and other states. Please support Unexpected Wildlife Refuge as we continue our work to protect and defend beavers, by providing them with a safe haven, and by working with the public and local governments to try to peacefully resolve 'conflicts' throughout New Jersey and elsewhere, helping to ensure that beavers will continue to live and flourish.
6 April 2020: This mother wolf spider was carrying her numerous babies in the undergrowth when Trustee Dave Sauder came upon her. Luckily for us, Dave had a camera and got this photo just before the spider(s) disappeared from view. The female wolf spider carries her egg sac underneath her body. Upon hatching, the youngsters climb her legs to gather on her back and are carried this way for several weeks until they are capable of life on their own.
3 April 2020: You may be interested in the latest Oregon WildBlog: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter.
2 April 2020: Throwback to 1984 and this photo of beavers swimming and gathering food in one of the waterways near the southern boundary of the Refuge. We are grateful that beavers continue to flourish here, with several new lodges in the last decade. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
30 March 2020: We noticed this hole at the base of this oak tree while patrolling recently. Because this is almost certainly a previous nesting site for someone, we will be setting up a trail camera soon to see if someone once again claims this as their home. More to follow (we hope)...
26 March 2020: Throwback to many years ago when we installed these 'beaver bafflers' to prevent beavers flooding the road adjacent the Refuge. It is our responsibility to develop and apply humane ways to coexist peacefully with those with whom we share habitat. Our Web page of beaver solutions offers more tips. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
23 March 2020: During these troubling and unsettling times, while many of our supporters are staying at home because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, the wildlife at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge are going about their lives as usual. We recently obtained many candid images of animals such as beavers, deer, mink, otters and turkeys by one of our trail cameras set up by our manager, Jen. We thought seeing a few of these 'extra' pictures might bring a smile to your faces -- they did to ours.
23 March 2020: This black vulture was perched in a tree near our headquarters on a windy day. Members of this species frequently spend time in this area, including taking up residence in the old barn. You can see a short video of this individual at: https://youtu.be/Mpq762vMZJg
21 March 2020: Please join the call for SeaQuest Woodbridge to release animals to sanctuaries
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Murphy has closed malls in NJ, including Woodbridge Center Mall. SeaQuest, the controversial aquarium and zoo, has closed and there are concerns for the welfare of the animals kept there, including a variety of domestic and wild species. Various sanctuaries have offered homes to the animals, but the owner, Vince Covino, is refusing to allow this to happen.
Please help in this situation:
19 March 2020: Throwback to 2015 and this photo of turkey tail fungi and lichen taking advantage of a fallen tree. There is no such thing as 'waste' in nature; everything becomes food or shelter for other lives. That is just one of the reasons we only remove fallen trees that are blocking a human trail. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
18 March 2020: Our manager, Jen Collins, attended BeaverCON 2020 during which professionals in the field, like Mike Callahan (pictured), presented the latest information on humanely managing human-beaver conflicts. Topics included the design and construction of different flow devices (including 'deceivers' and pond levelers), tree protection, ecological restoration and the ecological importance of beavers. A keystone species, beavers improve water quality, mitigate climate change, protect the landscape against fire and increase wildlife diversity. Continued education on the latest in conflict management practices helps us protect beavers by assisting the public when potential conflicts arise. If you find yourself or others in 'conflict' with beavers, please contact us at email@example.com or call 856.697.3541. You can also avail yourself of the abundant information we have on our Solutions to So-called Problems Caused by Beavers" page.
16 March 2020: A northern cardinal, 'puffed up' against the cold, seemed unperturbed by us as we took this photo.
14 March 2020: Please take action to help endangered and threatened plants in New Jersey
The New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Plant Protection Act, Assembly Bill 985, which is being co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Herb Conaway (D) and Kevin Rooney (R), has key implications for plants:
Prohibits certain actions relative to endangered and threatened plant species; directs DEP commissioner to take certain actions to protect endangered and threatened plant species.
New Jersey has more than 2,000 native plant species and nearly 700 of them are considered rare. It is crucial that any endangered or threatened species, whether animal or plant is given protection.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is home to many native plant species, including endangered and threatened plants such as Thuja occidentalis (also known as northern white-cedar), which is listed as endangered in New Jersey.
Please join us in helping New Jersey's rare plants. Contact your state Senators and Assembly representatives and urge them to support the New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Plant Protection Act, Assembly Bill 985.
If you do not know who your state legislators are or how to contact them, click here for the legislative contact Web page.
13 March 2020: PLEASE NOTE: In the interest of public safety, Stockton University has made the difficult decision to cancel LINES ON THE PINES, which was scheduled for this Sunday, 15th March. No information on rescheduling is available at this time, but will be posted when available. Please E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
12 March 2020: Throwback to 2007 and our map board to help visitors navigate the trails of the Refuge. Over the years, the board suffered the ravages of weather, but then was 'rejuvenated' by YMCA Camp Ockanickon volunteers in 2017. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
9 March 2020: A peaceful, albeit cold, venue: the Miller Pond at sunset in winter. If you look very closely, you may see the small flock of Canada geese flying in the distant background.
8 March 2020: Please take action to end wildlife killing contests
A recent investigation carried out by the Humane Society of the United States into a wildlife killing contest in New York has uncovered the shocking slaughter of 118 coyotes, including heavily pregnant females. Hundreds of people took part in this cruel and sickening contest to kill the most and heaviest animals.
Wildlife killing contests like these are already banned in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Vermont. Other states, such as Colorado, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon and Washington, as well as New Jersey and New York, are considering bills or proposed regulations to ban them.
Please take action to end this shocking slaughter of our wildlife:
5 March 2020: Throwback to 1984 and this young beaver busily having a poplar meal in one of the numerous waterways at the Refuge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
3 March 2020: Please join us in supporting UN World Wildlife Day
Today, 3rd March, is UN World Wildlife Day. It is an important global annual event dedicated to wildlife, and a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild animals and plants.
As we become increasingly aware of the devastating impact human beings are having on the planet - threatening our rich diversity of fauna and flora with extinction - protecting natural habitats, wildlife conservation and education on the issues has become ever more critical.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, as part of the globally unique ecosystem that is the Pine Barrens, plays an important role in protecting pristine forest, fields, bogs and waterways from human encroachment, thereby providing a haven for many species, including some officially listed as endangered or threatened in New Jersey.
We can all play our part in protecting wildlife and supporting biodiversity conservation by living our lives in a way that will have the smallest negative impact on the environment, wildlife, their habitats and the planet.
Please also join us in our critical work to protect habitats and wildlife by donating your time as a volunteer at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. Volunteers play a crucial role, whether by helping to patrol and protect, or by attending one of our land cleanups. Why not come along to our annual Earth Day Cleanup on Sunday 19 April and do your bit to help the planet! RSVP by Wednesday 15 April, either to email@example.com or by calling our office number: 856.697.3541.
2 March 2020: Although taken a while ago, we thought you might enjoy seeing this Canada goose and a group of hooded mergansers sharing the main pond at sunset.
27 February 2020: Throwback to this sketch of two beaver kits grooming themselves. It was created many years ago by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. Like most of her artwork, it was based on Hope's countless hours observing the animals whose home was the Refuge. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
25 February 2020: Please support campaign to close down SeaQuest in Woodbridge, NJ
The New York Post has reported on a visit by its undercover team to SeaQuest in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Despite opposition, including from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, a new SeaQuest aquarium recently opened at the Woodbridge Center Mall. We oppose keeping any wildlife in captivity, particularly with the aim of 'entertaining' the public.
Read the article: https://nypost.com/2020/02/22/animal-advocates-protest-seaquest-at-new-jersey-mall-over-alleged-abuse/
What you should do:
24 February 2020: We always marvel at the ingenuity of and hard work by ants in making their homes. This fresh mound of earth offers just a glimpse of the results of their labor; bear in mind that each tiny clump of earth represents a major trip in and out of the lengthening tunnel as it was being excavated.
23 February 2020: The important work of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge and our appeal for donations features on NJ.com. Please read and share:
767-acre wildlife refuge, home to rare South Jersey plants and animals, is seeking donations
20 February 2020: Throwback to circa 2000 and this photo of beavers coming up to Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder. Hope's passion for beavers, her patience and completely nonthreatening demeanor allowed the beavers to place their trust in her for heart-warming moments like this. We now discourage this sort of 'befriending' of beavers and other wild animals because there is no way for the animals to know who is or is not going to harm them. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
18 February 2020: Five-year study of beavers in Devon, UK, finds measurable benefits to wildlife and people
In this article, Beavers cut flooding and pollution and boost wildlife populations, Patrick Barkham provides an update on the reintroduction of beavers in an area of Devon, UK.
Beavers have alleviated flooding, reduced pollution and boosted populations of fish, amphibians and other wildlife, according to a five-year study of wild-living animals in Devon.
17 February 2020: This Canada goose was swimming with her partners in Miller Pond early one evening. We spent a few peaceful moments watching her and her friends as the sun slowly set.
13 February 2020: Throwback to July of 2015 and this eastern painted turtle attempting to hide from us along the shore of the main pond. We are looking forward to spring and the re-emergence of these and other turtles (and other species). #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #easternpaintedturtles
10 February 2020: Going, going, gone...temporarily. This female hooded merganser was swimming in the main pond when, for reasons we are not privileged to know for sure, she suddenly dived completely below the surface...to emerge many seconds later.
8 February 2020: Enlightenment 'across the pond'
This recent article by Patrick Barkham, Dam fine: estate owners across UK queue up to reintroduce beavers (The Guardian), reports on how the UK is recognizing the importance of beavers (Eurasian in this case) in protecting the environment. After hunting them to extinction, people now want to see this keystone species once again established in the British countryside.
6 February 2020: Throwback to 1971 and 1994 to these contrasting photos of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, Refuge co-founder, busily writing at her desk. Barely slowing down as she got older, she continued to write and draw about her experiences at the Refuge non-stop. As you can see, her office remained 'cluttered' (she could find anything at a moment's notice) and she continued to eschew any modern conveniences such as computers or even electric typewriters. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory
3 February 2020: This delicate eastern phoebe was 'cruising' Miller Pond in search of food on this cold winter day. She was able to find and capture this spider and landed on this reed to consume her meal (we do feel sorry for the spider). Within seconds, the spider was gone.
30 January 2020: Throwback to circa 1980 (?) and this photo of two beaver kits and Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, our co-founder. Hope famously was able to win the trust of resident beavers to the point the mothers would allow their babies onto shore to take food from Hope. As adorable as this situation was, we now recognize that this type of habituation to people is not in the beavers' best interests especially because many will leave the Refuge in search of their own place to settle and not know that there are people who would do them great harm. #tbt #ThrowbackThursday #UWRHistory #beavers
27 January 2020: One of the largest birds at the Refuge, we regularly see great blue herons in and around the main pond. Whether preening on a stump, wading in the water in search of food or perching in a tree along the shore, they always seem to choose a spot far away so that we can rarely get a brilliant 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.
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)
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.
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
15 January 2020: NJ residents: Need your help for S3407/A2731
The bill that would allow unlimited licensing to kill beavers, S3407/A2731, has passed through the legislature and is on its way to Gov Murphy. PLEASE contact Gov Murphy and ask that he VETO this bill:
Tweet: @GovMurphy #SaveNJWildlife
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.
9 January 2020: URGENT action needed before 13 January for beavers in New Jersey
We need you to send urgent messages to your state legislators (senators and assembly members) urging them to VOTE NO to S3407/A2731. This bill, which could be voted on this 13th of January, would remove the current statutory restriction of 200 beaver trapping permits per year and allow the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife to issue as many permits as it wants.
It is outrageous that beavers, whose important role in maintaining the health of our ecosystem is increasingly being recognized, are even allowed to be cruelly trapped and killed in New Jersey. We must stop the currently appalling situation from becoming even worse for this iconic keystone species.
If you do not know who your state legislators are or how to contact them, click here for the legislative contact Web page.
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
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.
3 January 2020: Urgent action needed before January 13th for New Jersey deer
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is supporting Animal Protection League of NJ with their campaign to oppose bill S2419/A3242, dangerously close to becoming law, with concerns there will likely be a push for a final vote on January 13th.
S2419/A3242 is an appalling bill that removes any remaining restraints on killing deer in New Jersey. This Bill expands the cruel and unethical methods typically used by hunters. It expands killing and wounding methods for deer and other wildlife including killing animals directly over bait at point blank range, killing deer any time of day or night, shooting deer from moving vehicles and jacklighting (stunning deer with strong lights).
It also includes the "Multi-Species Depredation" Permit - permits issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife that "authorize agents of the owner or lessee, to kill any animal of a species listed in the permit which is on the land and known to cause crop damage". This could apply to a variety of species.
Please urge your New Jersey's Assembly Member to defeat S2419/A3242, and, for Governor Murphy to veto the bill, if its gets to his desk. If you do not know who your legislators are or how to contact them, click here for the legislative contact Web page.
Reach Gov Murphy at 609-292-6000 and Tweet him: @GovMurphy #SaveNJWildlife
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
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.