Beavers at the Refuge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
1/ 10
Antlion trap near ant tunnel entrances, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
2/ 10
Black vultures on cabin barn, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
3/ 10
Cattail at Miller Pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
4/ 10
Great horned owl, photo by Al Francesconi
5/ 10
Woolly bear caterpillar, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
6/ 10
Yellow water lily flowering, main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
7/ 10
Slender aster at main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
8/ 10
Raccoons at Otter Dam, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
9/ 10
Northern black racer, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
10/ 10
Northern cardinal, 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.
Read more

What YOU can do to help wildlife

White-tailed deer forgaging for lilies in main pond; Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge needs your help patrolling this hunting 'season' (22 October 2019)

Hunting 'season' is upon us and UWR needs volunteers to assist with patrolling the Refuge boundaries to keep hunters from entering the Refuge. Enjoy the beautiful wetlands and woodlands of our wonderful Refuge while working to keep the animals safe. The amount of time you and your friends volunteer is up to you -- an hour or two or more (we patrol from dawn to dusk each day). We hope to provide coffee and tea, but it would help the Refuge if you brought your own refreshments (vegan, please, and no plastic bottles). As always, we provide volunteers with trail maps and orange safety vests.

Let us know which days and times you can patrol and we will add you to our calendar:

Bear cub, APLNJ

Please show your support for the bears of New Jersey (4 October 2019)

Bear hunting in New Jersey starts on October 14th

Hunting bears is cruel and inflicts substantial suffering on these sentient animals. Hunters can bait and shoot all bears including mothers and their cubs; incredibly, bows and arrows and muzzleloader guns are allowed, weapons that are not only archaic, but 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.

Please show your support for these iconic and majestic animals:

ATTEND a bear hunt protest organized by APLNJ (Animal Protection League of NJ)
Date: 19 October
Time: 12 PM - 2 PM
Location: Route 36, Middletown, NJ, between Wilson Ave and Church St, beneath APLNJ's bear billboard
(Contact APLNJ for exact location and further details:

SUPPORT bear hunt vigils that are being held from October 14-19
Each day quiet vigils, to show reverence for bears who have lost their lives, will be held at Whittingham weigh station. Times may change, so please contact Doreen Frega ( for details.
LOCATION: Whittingham Wildlife Management Area, 150 Fredon Springdale Road, Fredon, NJ (Coordinates: 41°01'26.1"N 74°47'40.1"W)

Please continue to contact Governor Murphy and politely urge him to prohibit bear hunting on all land in NJ, not just public land:
Telephone: 609.292.6000
Tweet: @GovMurphy #savenjbears

Article in NJ Herald:

Right whale, National Geographic

Bipartisan bill to Save the North Atlantic right whale (17 September 2019)

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Tom Carper (D-DE), have introduced a bipartisan bill, the Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act (S. 2453), to support the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale.

The North Atlantic right whale is a critically endangered species, with only about 400 left in the world. They are vulnerable to human activities such as becoming entangled in fishing gear or being struck by vessels.

If the SAVE Right Whales Act becomes law, it would establish a new grant program to fund projects between states, nongovernmental organizations and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impacts of human activities on the North Atlantic right whales.

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge welcomes the introduction of this bill and we commend Senators Cory Booker, Johnny Isakson and Tom Carper for taking a stand to protect this critically endangered, magnificent and iconic species.

For further information:

Please write and thank the Senators for standing up for the endangered North Atlantic right whale:

APLNJ rally

Please attend rally in support of wildlife in NJ (takes place 21 September 2019)

Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ) is holding a rally in support of the wildlife in NJ.

Date: 11:00 EDT Saturday, 21 September 2019
Location: along Route 17, in front of the Paramus Municipal Building, 1 Carlough Drive, Paramus, NJ

The rally will draw attention to the cruel lethal policies of NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife that cause such misery and suffering to bears, deer, coyotes, foxes, beavers, geese and many other wildlife species across the state.

Please attend and bring family and friends.

Let's speak up for the wildlife of NJ! For more information:

California has become the first state to ban trapping of animals for their furs (11 September 2019)

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge has welcomed legislation introduced 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."

Unexpected Wildlife 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 nationwide. Please support by signing and sharing this petition:

Read more here:

Fox killing,

Arizona bans wildlife killing contests, New Jersey still allows (7 September 2019)

Arizona has banned organized wildlife killing contests where people try to kill the most coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other animals for prizes.

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge commends the Arizona Governor's Regulatory Review Council for unanimously approving this ban. Wildlife killing contests are cruel and efforts to ban them are increasing. Already, New Mexico and Vermont have banned coyote killing contests and several other states are reportedly considering similar rules or legislation.

Sadly, these barbaric wildlife killing contests are still taking place in New Jersey. Please sign and share the petition calling for an end to them:

Turtle Back Zoo,

The Turtle Back Zoo in Essex County, NJ wants to expand and is seeking public funding from Green Acres for a Grizzly bear exhibit (28 August 2019)

The mission of the Green Acres program is to obtain and protect open spaces in order to 'preserve and enhance New Jersey's natural environment and its historic, scenic, and recreational resources for public use and enjoyment'. Public funding should not be used to imprison wild animals for entertainment.

Please sign and share this petition calling for an end to the expansion of Turtle Back Zoo:

Cyanide killed, Care2

Wildlife 'management' through cyanide explosives

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is appalled to learn that the US Government has reauthorized the use of 'cyanide bombs' to kill wild animals such as coyotes and foxes. The spring-loaded devices, called M-44s, work by attracting animals with bait then violently spraying poison into their mouths. These devices are not only viciously inhumane, they also indiscriminately kill thousands of 'non-target' animals and have injured people. In 2018, the US Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to assess the use of the M-44 devices after a lawsuit was brought by four conservation and animal welfare groups. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says 200,000 people wrote letters of objection to the M-44 devices during the 18-month assessment period and, despite the fact that 99.9% of responses to the EPA's proposal were in support of a ban (according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity), the EPA has decided that these cruel killing devices are "safe" and will allow their continued use on an interim basis.

Please sign and share this petition urging the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ban these devices:

Further information:

Please call for an end to cruel fox snares in Stone Harbor, NJ (15 July 2019)

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is using snares to trap red foxes at Stone Harbor Point in NJ in an attempt to protect nesting piping plovers. Snares are wire nooses that continue to tighten around the caught animal's neck or leg as he or she struggles to get loose. They cause major damage to tissues, extreme fear inherent in a wild animal being trapped and slow strangulation, and are an especially inhumane way to trap animals. Furthermore, the foxes have as much right to live as do the plovers.

Local residents are urging the Borough to persuade the DEP to look at humane alternatives such as relocation. Stone Harbor Mayor Judy Davies-Dunhour is backing these ideas and she and other council members are asking state and federal representatives for further information on why snare traps are used and if alternatives exist.

Please write to the Mayor and other council members thanking them for showing compassion on this issue and urging them to call on the DEP to stop the cruel capture of foxes with snares:

APLNJ alert

Still need New Jersey residents to call Governor Murphy (3 July 2019)

Even if you have already done so, please call Governor Murphy at 609-292-6000 and ask him to VETO deer killing bill S2419/A3242

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is supporting Animal Protection League of NJ with this campaign. S2419/A3242 has been passed by the Senate and is now on the Governor's desk waiting for his signature. This Bill expands the cruel and unethical methods typically used by poachers. 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, or 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.

Japan murdering whales, NY Times

Protest the killing of whales by Japan (2 July 2019)

An international outcry has followed Japan's return to commercial whaling. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC), a global intergovernmental body, agreed to a hunting moratorium to allow whale numbers to recover. Japan announced in December that it was withdrawing from the IWC and would, therefore, no longer be subject to its rules (it had continued whaling during this period for what it said were 'research' purposes). This week, five whaling ships, with a permit to catch hundreds of whales in Japanese waters, started the country's first commercial hunt in over three decades. At least one whale has already been killed.

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is appalled by this news. These iconic majestic giants of the seas will be subjected to long and painful deaths from exploding harpoons; scientific research has shown that there is no 'humane' way to kill a whale.

What you can and should do:

More information:

Deer shot with arrow,

Take Action to STOP the River Vale (NJ) deer hunt (14 June 2019)

If you are a resident of New Jersey -- especially Bergen County -- please sign this petition calling on the River Vale Mayor and Council not to pass Township law that would allow deer hunting on River Vale golf courses and town owned land:

The petition has been started by the League of Humane Voters of New Jersey who are urging the use of non-lethal solutions to resolve wildlife conflict situation.

Raccoon, NJ Animal Save Movement
Safe white-tailed deer, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Urgent appeal to New Jersey residents about proposed deer bow hunt in River Vale (19 May 2019)

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:

Fox slaughter, NJ;

New Jersey residents (12 April 2019)

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:

Snow geese, Wikipedia

New Jersey to allow snow goose hunting during February-April 2019 (27 February 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:

Black bear, Bill Lea

Challenge to New Jersey bear hunt rejected by court (13 February 2019)

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:

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

Stop the killing of deer in Essex County Parks (26 January 2019)

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:

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

Call for an end to the deer slaughter in Texas (22 January 2019)

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: (their Web site is:

They also have a Twitter and Facebook accounts:

Coyotes in Yellowstone National Park, National Park Service

We and the coyotes who call our Refuge home urge you to sign this petition to stop extreme cruelty to coyotes in Wyoming (18 January 2019)

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 ( Further details can be found here: