Beavers at the Refuge, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Moss on Boundary Trail, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Moonlit main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Elegant spreadwing damselfly, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Racoon on trail camera near Wild Goose Blind, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Northern water snake in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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House wren near Headquarters, photo by Leor Veleanu
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Luna moth male on porch at Headquarters, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Bleeding heart flowering near Headquarters, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Northern cricket frog in Miller Pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
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Fungi on fallen tree on Boundary Trail, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is a protected natural habitat comprising 767 acres of pristine pine lands, forest, fields, bogs, streams and lakes. 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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Beaver Tales from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, August 2018

Here is our latest newsletter to keep you informed about just a few of the activities and issues concerning Unexpected Wildlife Refuge.

News items:
Updated UWR Website
Updated Web site

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge has new appearance to Web site
We have reviewed our original Web site design and have made several changes to make it easier to navigate and provide a better rendering of information. This has involved numerous hours of development. But, this has all been done in-house, with no cost to anyone, especially no negative impact on our budget and how we protect the Refuge. In addition to a new interactive menu, we have added a 'slide show' to the Home page (this will be updated periodically) and have made the image galleries easier to use and view through the use of thumbnails. We hope you will enjoy the new appearance and functionality.

Beavers eating, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Beavers at the Refuge

Beavers continue making a comeback
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. 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. The Refuge habitat is ideal for beavers and we are glad to be part of the effort to provide these personable rodents a permanent and protected home. Along with other beaver defenders, we continue to 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.

In a recent article in Mongabay, Mike Gaworecki discusses some of the history and biological importance of beavers. You can find more information about these fascinating animals in our beaver literature document.

Candice Burke self-photo at Refuge
Candice Burke

Visitor enjoys natural wildness of the Refuge
Candice Burke recently spent some time at the Refuge and experienced the beauty of nature on nature's terms. "I have to say that it was definitely a different type of hiking experience than being in a public park, in a good way. Quiet, less trampled, more natural." Her 'bug hat' (see her photo) helped to keep at least some of the fauna from making a meal of her. She went on to say, "I saw the turtles, a great blue heron, geese, and a few deer including a fawn. My trip through the phragmites netted me many ticks, but felt like an adventure." We are glad that Candice enjoyed herself and we encourage others to contact us to set up an appointment to explore the Refuge. You can call (856.697.3541) or E-mail ( our manager.

Piney Hollow Preservation Area

Changes proposed to the Piney Hollow Preservation Area
The Piney Hollow Preservation Area, Franklin Township, is protected land that borders one side of the Refuge. We recently learned that the administrators have applied to the New Jersey Pinelands Commission to make improvements. You can learn more about this by reviewing the notification we and others have received. The proposed development includes the addition of an access road for emergency and maintenance vehicles; repair and maintenance of existing trails; addition of a wooden boardwalk trail; and various other changes including new signage, information kiosks, benches, picnic tables and a wooden dock over McCarthy Lake.

We are hoping to visit the Commission to review the entire plan to determine what, if any, effect the planned improvements could have on the Refuge. It might be that these will result in better protection of the wildlife residing in the Area and reduce the encroachment by off-road vehicles. The latter cause substantial damage to fragile habitat as well as killing wildlife outright. We will provide an update when we know more.

Snapshots of life at the Refuge:
Cottontail rabbit, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Cottontail rabbit

Cottontail rabbit 'visits' our headquarters cabin
This cottontail rabbit was crossing in front of our cabin and stood still long enough to get this lovely photo. Although these rabbits thrive at the Refuge, we rarely get to see them -- let alone get nice photos -- due to their understandably furtive behavior. It is a real treat to have one stop long enough to 'study'.

Hummingbird in mid-flight, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Hummingbirds at the Refuge
The rich flowering plant life at the Refuge attracts many species of animals, including hummingbirds. This individual was photographed in-flight on approach to scarlet honeysuckle flowers near the main pond.

Bald eagles in pine tree, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Bald eagles

Bald eagles in pine tree
We thought you might enjoy this unusual scene. We see many bald eagles at the Refuge, but usually singly and often in flight. Here, two sit companionably (we assume) in a pine tree near the main pond. The latter is a well-used source of food for the eagles.

Fungi on tree, photo courtesy Dave Sauder
Fungi on tree, photo courtesy Dave Sauder

Fungi are wildlife, too
The humid conditions at the Refuge are very conducive to the growth of many species of fungi. We do not claim to be experts on them, but always enjoy seeing them, even those that are not 'colorful' like the ones in these photographs. Dave Sauder, one of our Trustees, saw these during a recent visit and shared the photos.

Muskrat lodge in Miller Pond, photo courtesy Dave Sauder
Muskrat lodge
Muskrat lodge in Miller Pond, photo courtesy Dave Sauder
Muskrat lodge

Muskrat lodge in Miller Pond
We would love to share a photo of the muskrats who live at the Refuge. Unfortunately, because these rodents are so elusive, we rarely get to see them, especially with a camera handy to get a photo. Instead, we can show you one of their homes. Once again, Dave Sauder had his camera handy while he was surveying Miller Pond, one of our major and very picturesque wetlands areas, and shared these images with us.

Bumblebees and ant on buttonbush, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Bumblebees, ant & buttonbush

Insects sharing a buttonbush
When we got this nice photo of a buttonbush with two bumblebees busily collecting nectar, we were not aware of the additional occupant. After we downloaded and were processing the photo, we noticed that there was also a large ant hanging upside down on one of the stems, adding to our viewing pleasure.

Ring-necked snake, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Ring-necked snake

Ring-necked snake passing through
This ring-necked snake happened to be passing by one day, near what we call the Miller house. He or she stayed still long enough for us to grab our camera and get this photo. Notice the deformed area a short distance from the snake's head. This may be a long-healed wound from an encounter with a predator.

White-tailed deer on main pond island, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
White-tailed deer, main pond island

White-tailed deer family on island in main pond
The main pond is more than just a source of water for the white-tailed deer living at the Refuge. During the summer months, when there is a burgeoning of lily pads, the deer wade into the pond to browse on these plants. This family of deer ventured out regularly onto one of the small islands some distance from the shore, where they would spend their afternoons under the trees.

Take action to help wildlife at the Refuge:

As part of the vital and globally unique ecosystem that is the Pine Barrens, the Refuge is home to more than 40 endangered and threatened species. Please make a pledge to sponsor a Refuge habitat or choose to support one of the species of animals who call this protected land "home". You can easily do this through an automatic monthly PayPal donation. Go to our Donate page to make your choice and subscribe. Your recurrent donations will be used, as with all our income, to continue protecting the Refuge from harm and allowing the inhabitants to live freely.

Here are the choices you will have:

  • Wetland habitat: $30.00
  • Pine forest habitat: $25.00
  • Bald eagle: $20.00
  • Beaver kit: $15.00
  • River otter: $15.00
  • Eastern box turtle: $15.00
  • Red fox: $10.00
  • Your personal favorite: $20.00
  • All habitats and animals: $60.00
Muddy Bog, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Muddy Bog
Bald eagle, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
Bald eagle
Beaver and lily pad, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo
River otter, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo
River otter
Eastern box turtle, photo by Chris Tlapa
Eastern box turtle
Red fox, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge trail camera photo
Red fox

Helping wildlife and the Refuge in the future
We remind you to please remember Unexpected Wildlife Refuge when planning your will and estate. It is an easy, effective and lasting way to help the Refuge... and wildlife. When talking with your estate planner, just provide them with our name, address and tax identification number (23-7025010). This is one of the most important gifts the Refuge can receive. If you have already included us in your future plans, thank you!

Take action to help wildlife everywhere:

Here are just some of the current issues where wildlife, whether living freely or imprisoned in circuses, zoos or other venues, can benefit from your help. We urge you to take action and share with others.

US Endangered Species Act under threat: We are alarmed to learn that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) - one of the world's most effective laws protecting wildlife and their habitats - is under threat. It has been credited with saving from extinction some of the United States' most recognizable wildlife such as the American alligator, the gray wolf and the bald eagle.

Today, this key legislation is under threat by a sweeping set of proposals from the federal government that would weaken the ESA and make it harder to secure federal protections for endangered and threatened species; it would become more difficult to list a new species for protection and easier to remove those now on the list.

We believe that keeping the ESA intact is crucial to ensure that threatened and endangered wildlife do not become extinct through human activity. Please join us in objecting to attempts to weaken this critical piece of legislation:

  1. Comment on the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Proposed Rule here:
  2. Contact your federal Senators and Representative. If you do not know who they are or how to contact them, you can get this information here:

Elephant soccer, Care2

Elephant 'soccer': As if it is not bad enough that these elephants have to endure being held captive against their will, they are also forced to be involved in something that is totally unnatural for them. Not only is this inhumane, it reinforces the morally reprehensible notion that people can use other animals in any way they like as long as it brings 'pleasure' to the people. Please protest this use of elephants here:

Lion, Care2

Trophy hunting: Hunting is not a 'sport', especially when one of the 'participants' is not even aware they are 'participating' and surely would be unwilling, especially when death is the consequence for them. When this is done to obtain a 'trophy', abject immorality is the only way to characterize it. Although we cannot bring back Skye, the lion murdered for his body, you can at least let the agency involved know that allowing lions (and others) to be killed is unacceptable, that the eyes of the world are upon them:

Elephant, Care2

Wild animals in German circuses: We hope you will agree that wild animals do not belong in captivity, particularly not to be forced to 'perform' for the pleasure of human observers. Adding to their misery, because many of these animals are dangerous to people and are being forced to do things completely contrary to their nature, extremely harsh methods of 'training', often involving physical violence, are used. Please join with us in letting Germany know that such abuse of animals is unacceptable:

Our newsletters are the result of a team effort involving people dedicated to protecting wildlife in general and furthering the Refuge in particular:

  • Nedim C. Buyukmihci, story contributor and editor
  • Sarah Kite, story contributor and copy-editor
  • Dave Sauder, story and photo contributor

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge
Mailing address: P.O. Box 765, Newfield, NJ 08344-0765
Web site:
Telephone: 856.697.3541