Beaver Tales from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, December 2020
White-tailed deer, main pond
We are very appreciative of everyone who has supported Unexpected Wildlife Refuge during 2020. In these challenging times it is comforting to know that there are 767 acres of protected habitat and hiking trails where you can easily socially distance and enjoy the beauty, nature and wildlife of the Refuge. We hope you will take advantage of this gem and schedule a visit at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge.
We are currently amidst hunting season in New Jersey through January 31, 2021. We encourage you to contact us now -- call 856.697.3541 or E-mail email@example.com -- if you can volunteer to patrol the Refuge to keep wildlife safe. You can commit to an hour or, preferably, more:
If you have never volunteered for patrol duty and want to start, please let us know.
If you are already on our list of patrol volunteers, but have not yet had the opportunity to contact us to be added to the schedule, now is your chance.
If you are already scheduled for a shift or shifts, thank you for your willingness!
We are deeply indebted to all who donated towards the cost of our new Headquarters building. If you would like to contribute towards our remaining debt on this, please visit our
Home page for more information and help us with the most generous donation you can.
There are many other ways in which you can help, whether by volunteering to patrol or assist with trail maintenance, or by sponsoring a Refuge habitat or supporting one of the species of animals who are able to live freely here without human persecution or interference. We hope that we can rely on your continued support now and during 2021.
We wish you all a Happy New Year.
Contents of this month's newsletter:
TNT Cycling presents check
TNT Cycling presents UWR with donation check
In October we reported on a successful event that UWR cohosted with TNT Cycling of Lumberton, NJ, the Giro del Vino III. After all proceeds and costs of the event were processed, we met with the event organizers for presentation of the donation check. Pictured from left to right are BJ Vinton, owner of White Horse Winery, Dave Sauder, UWR Trustee, Jen Collins, UWR manager, and Jorge Carmona of TnT Cycling. We are delighted to report that Unexpected Wildlife Refuge was presented with a donation of $6,500 from the event. We would again like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Jorge and all sponsors and participants for making this possible.
Fallen tree on Miller House from tropical storm
During a tropical storm in August a tree was blown over onto the roof of the Miller House, a building that is a part of the Refuge. We have had plans to turn it into a multipurpose volunteer/educational center and library, sometime in the not too distant future. The fallen tree caused considerable damage including a hole in the roof and damage to the septic system from the uprooting of the large rootball. Half of the portion that was leaning on the roof has been removed and we are working with our insurance and construction companies to remove the rest, and repair the roof and septic system.
Beavers in the news
Here are some recent news media articles concerning beavers. You can see our entire list, a tribute to this wonderful keystone species, in our
Beavers in the News page. If you come across a news item on beavers, please send us the link so that we can consider it for inclusion.
England's first wild beavers for 400 years allowed to live on River Otter -- Fiona Harvey
Beavers on the Otter
photo Mike Symes/Devon Wildlife Trust/PA
Key to the success of the River Otter project was getting local people and farmers involved and explaining the benefits beavers can bring, as well as providing support when needed, said Burgess. There were several incidents of localised flooding of farmland, when the landowners were concerned, but by providing expert support the reintroduction team were able to resolve the problems.
How beavers became North America's best firefighter -- Ben Goldfarb
Beaver at Schwabacher Landing
photo Charlie Hamilton James
The rodent creates fireproof refuges for many species, suggesting wildlife managers should protect beaver habitat as the U.S. West burns...A new study concludes that, by building dams, forming ponds, and digging canals, beavers irrigate vast stream corridors and create fireproof refuges in which plants and animals can shelter. In some cases, the rodents' engineering can even stop fire in its tracks.
Campaigns for wildlife in New Jersey
Saddle River deer kill
Help stop the Saddle River Deer kill
Despite residents voting for non-lethal alternatives to be used, the Town Council decided to allow the killing of deer (photo APLNJ) in Saddle River. Although this is a major setback for the deer, especially because there are non-lethal ways to 'manage' these animals, the Council should be told that they have made a mistake and should reverse their decision and honor the will of the Saddle River residents.
What you can do:
American black bear cubs
Keep saying NO to bear hunting in New Jersey
We need to keep up the pressure on this issue. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy promised us he would put an end to bear hunting, but has not fulfilled this assurance. Please contact Governor Murphy and urge him to stop the hunt permanently by issuing an
Tweet: @GovMurphy #savenjbears
credit Christian Gloor
Ban plastic foam take-out cups and containers
Saying no to single use plastic and polystyrene foam containers is something we can do now to help wildlife. Please make the pledge to avoid these plastic products; your personal action and commitment will be vital in this campaign.
Please also sign and share the petition urging Governor Murphy to ban plastic foam take-out cups and containers: Protect our waters and wildlife from waste
Snapshots of life at the Refuge
Eastern pondhawk dragonfly
Male eastern pondhawk dragonfly rests on lily pad
Over the summer Miller Pond was abuzz with dragonflies. Patrols to the pond often produced many photographs of dragonflies of a variety of species, the eastern pondhawk being one of them. Here we see a male perched on a lily pad in the open water, perhaps a brief interlude before flying off in search of a female to mate with. Eastern pondhawk dragonflies, like many dragonfly species are dimorphic; males and females can be identified based on color and pattern. Young males are also distinguished from adult males by color and pattern until they reach full maturity. Adult males are powder-blue over the entire abdomen and thorax while females are bright green with black markings.
Red-legged buprestis beetle
Red-legged buprestis beetle - a jewel in the Refuge
Nature never ceases to amaze in its uniqueness and beauty, especially not when this eye-catching jewel beetle made a stop on the stairs of Headquarters. The red-legged buprestis is one of many species of jewel beetles who are named for their brilliant colors and metallic sheens. Those colors help protect them from predators by acting as camouflage, allowing them to hide in plain sight. The color of the carapace is not due to pigments in the shell, but due to light diffraction by the microscopic structure of the carapace. Found in open, sunny locations during the summer, they are wood boring beetles inhabiting dead or dying hardwood in their adult phase.
North American river otter
Scat along main pond dike documents resident's travels
North American river otter are a resident species of the Refuge, though we aren't often lucky enough to catch glimpses of them in person. More often we rely on our trail cameras, or other less than glamorous clues, to document their actions. This photo of scat, or fecal matter, can be identified as that of an otter based on the location, contents and consistency. Otters are semiaquatic carnivores with a diet primarily consisting of fish, reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, and their scat normally contains a good portion of small bones and fish scales. Otters are especially energetic, a result of their very high metabolism which requires that they eat a great deal, about 15-20% of their total body weight, per day.
Six-spotted tiger beetle
Six-spotted tiger beetle 'spotted' at Miller House
Another striking metallic beetle was recently observed over the summer, this time near Miller House. Although there are about 150 different species of beetles in NJ, the distinct color and pattern of the six-spotted tiger beetle makes for an easy identification. Six-spotted tiger beetles are small green metallic beetles, and, as the name suggests they have six tiger-like spots on the back of their elytra (the hard forewings that cover and protect their inner flight wings). They are highly active and unlike most beetles, they can run and fly at great speeds. No more than half an inch long, they are ferocious predators striking their prey with their strong and powerful jaws.
Green heron, adult
Green heron, subadult
Green herons at main pond
One lucky day while viewing the main pond, our manager observed two green herons. Although we had been aware of their presence at the Refuge, this was the first time we were able to document that with photographs. In the first photo we see a subadult fishing at the edge of a small island in the main pond. Subadults, not having reached full maturity, do not have full adult plumage and coloration, but rather have a more mottled brown coloring. In the second photo an adult green heron is perched on a branch. The adult has more solidly colored feathers with a deep green back and crown, and a chestnut neck and breast.
Young male cardinal grooming
Young male cardinal grooming
Young male cardinal grooms on log
This juvenile male cardinal spent some time perched on a log near headquarters, grooming and taking in the scenery. Although not yet at full maturity, soon his coloring will be the more solid and bold red of an adult male. Another dimorphic species, females and males can be easily distinguished from one another based on coloration as females are mostly light brown. As with many bird species, the males are more brightly colored, a characteristic that helps with mating as it serves to attract a female. Young males in the early stages of transition can be mistaken for females as they have similar coloring, though adults' beaks are brightly colored while juveniles' are black or gray. The beak of the young male pictured here has already changed from dark to more brightly colored, another indication that he has almost completed the transition.
Canada geese in flight
over main pond
Flock in flight
Canada geese are social birds usually seen in large groups, except when nesting. They are a constant presence on our main pond, and whether a flock is taking off or coming in for a landing, or conversing on the pond, we always know when they're around. Canada geese are often seen in a "V" formation when flying long distances due to what is know as the drafting effect, which helps them to conserve their energy. The leader in the front splits the air current, thus using the most energy. When he tires, he moves to the back and another goose takes over the lead spot. The formation also makes it easier to maintain visual contact and communication.
Four-banded stink bug
Four-banded stink bug
Four-banded stink bug hunter wasp at work
It was interesting to watch as this four-banded stink bug hunter wasp busily dug in the sand, burying this unfortunate stink bug in her burrow. She tirelessly dug, tossing sand behind her, until eventually the stink bug was buried out of sight. Females of this species, as their name suggests, hunt stink bugs but they do not eat their prey. They dedicate their prey exclusively to their offspring, which as larvae consume the victims. They sting their prey to paralyze them, then carry them back to their burrow and stuff them inside. They dig their burrows almost exclusively in sand, and they are fast diggers with their first and second pairs of legs being slightly curved inward to support digging as well as grasping their prey.
White-footed mouse emerges from tree along the boundary trail
One day while doing trail maintenance along the boundary trail, this white-footed mouse popped out to see what was going on. Our manager quietly watched as he looked around, had a quick grooming session, and then scurried out of the hole and down the tree. One of only a few species of mice in NJ, white-footed mice are the most abundant small mammal in mixed forest habitats of the eastern US. They are omnivores feeding primarily on seeds and insects. Given that diet, they play the ecological role of seed dispersers, spreading the seeds of trees, shrubs, and other plant species across their home range.
Ruby-throated hummingbird poses for camera
When the hummingbird vine around Headquarters was in full bloom, hummingbirds were frequent visitors. Hummingbirds are incredible flyers, in addition to forward flight, they can fly backward, sideways, straight up, and they can hover in place extensively. They beat their wings quite rapidly, with the ruby-throated beating their wings 80 times per second, and they can also rotate their wings 180 degrees in all directions. Their movements can make them tricky to photograph, though luckily this male rested a bit, giving our manager just enough time to take a photo of his lovely silhouette. At night hummingbirds enter a hibernation-like state called torpor during which their body temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate all drop, allowing them to conserve energy.
A glimpse at our past
Dave on patrol
Trustee and 30+ year volunteer shares about Hope
Dave Sauder, Trustee, shares stories of patrols and games with Refuge co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci. During a six day 'shotgun season' in the early '80's I went to the Refuge to volunteer to patrol against deer hunters possibly intruding into the Refuge. Hope was living in the cabin at that time and directed the volunteer effort. Hope had asked that I go to the Refuge before dawn since deer hunters often began their hunts at dawn. I was directed by Hope to go to station #20 because she said hunters often led deer drives in this area, driving deer in front of other hunters to shoot. This area of the Refuge abutted agricultural fields. I remember there was a driving snow at the time and it was difficult to see almost anything. After staying in this area for a few hours and not observing any deer hunters I headed back to the cabin. Hope would often invite volunteers into the cabin where she sometimes offered hot tea and a vegan soup. If it was the end of the day she sometimes invited me to sit in front of the wood stove and play a game of Scrabble. She won every time!
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 many 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 (you do not need a PayPal account, just a credit card). 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 your choices:
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
Eastern box turtle
Bat and fruit
Continuing reminder about helping us help wildlife today
This Refuge, and its nearly 800 acres of rigorously protected habitat, is home and sanctuary for hundreds of animal and plant species; many of the animal species have been here for generations. We depend entirely on the support of our donors for our day-to-day expenses! As we approach the end of the year, we still have not received sufficient donations to cover our nominal budget for the year. We know that you have limited resources and need to consider which of numerous worthwhile causes to support. We hope, however, that you can again find it possible to give us a donation today of any amount. We and the wildlife need your support now.
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 a few 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.
Please join the call to Instagram to ban wildlife selfies from its Platform: The wildlife tourism industry inflicts immense cruelty and suffering on captive wild animals, using them as photo props to 'entertain' people. Social media platforms glamorize and encourage this cruelty by allowing such images on their platforms. Although Instagram has a policy against the posting of photos depicting animal abuse, they need to broaden their definition of what constitutes abuse and ban photos showing people posing with captive wildlife.
Please sign and share this petition: Urge Instagram to Ban Wildlife Selfies from its Platform
Raccoon victim of leghold trap
Tell Congress to ban steel-jaw leghold traps: Steel jaw leghold traps have no place in our society. They are brutal and inhumane. The majority of veterinarians polled believe that these traps should not be used because they are cruel devices. The American Animal Hospital Association is on record as opposing these traps, as is the American Veterinary Medical Association. The traps must be banned, something already the case in truly civilized countries.
Please sign and share this petition: Ban Steel-Jaw Leghold Traps in the U.S.
Egret, photo Care2
Migratory birds in the US have had their legal protection taken away from them: The 100-year old Migratory Bird Treaty Act was a landmark law that protected many bird species from unauthorized hunting and from being harmed or killed by industrial operations, thus helping to their restore populations. Call on the federal government to reinstate protections for migratory birds.
Please sign and share this petition: With a Simple Change to Policy, Trump Doomed Millions of Birds to Die
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge
Mailing address: P.O. Box 765, Newfield, New Jersey 08344-0765
Web site: http://unexpectedwildliferefuge.org/