Beaver Tales from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, June 2022
Sunset over main pond
June has been an active month at Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. Mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians are lively as the warmer temperatures of summer arrive. Every day we welcome the sights and sounds of life at the Refuge. Nesting female turtles are seen regularly in areas surrounding the ponds. Choruses of birds, frogs, and toads are heard at different times of day and night. Young toads, having completed metamorphosis, continue to emerge from the water to begin their new life on land.
Over the past few months UWR has continued to provide public education at various local events. Most recently, we attended Folsom Green Day, and NatureFest. You can read more on these events in our News items section below.
To visit, and enjoy the many sights and sounds of summer on the Refuge, call 856-697-3541 or email email@example.com to schedule.
Running a wildlife refuge is not only physically and emotionally demanding, there are always expenses with which to deal. Although we are frugal in how we spend Refuge funds having only one employee and an all-volunteer Council of Trustees we need your help in ensuring the continuation and longevity of the Refuge. We hope you will take the time to make the most generous donation you can.... Please know that we and the wildlife are grateful for your continued support.
Contents of this month's newsletter:
Support wildlife at the Refuge
UWR on AmazonSmile
Shop on Amazon? You can now support Unexpected Wildlife Refuge through the AmazonSmile program! Just go to https://smile.amazon.com/ and choose Unexpected Wildlife Refuge as your charity. Every time you shop, be sure to choose the AmazonSmile page and UWR will receive a donation! Feel great knowing you are helping all wildlife at the Refuge!
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!
Folsom Green Day
UWR at Folsom Green Day, April 30, 2022
On April 30, UWR tabled at Folsom's first annual Green Day event. It was a beautiful spot on the beach at Braddock Lake in Collings Lakes. Included in the event were activities for children, information about the ecology of the Lakes, kayak tours, demonstrations on making rain barrels and rain gardens, and a quiz on proper recycling practices. Other organizations in attendance included, ACUA, Great Egg Harbor River Watershed Association, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, and Folsom Environmental Commission. We received several donations, and discussed UWR and its mission with attendees. It was a windy day, which proved challenging for securing tabling items!
Humane Stewardship Alliance
Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust
Humane Stewardship Alliance
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge has been invited to become a member of a national network of wildlife sanctuaries organized by the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust. The Humane Stewardship Pledge is a commitment to protect wildlife and vital habitat. We welcome the opportunity to join with other sanctuaries in preserving natural habitat where wildlife can continue to thrive for generations. If you would like to help wildlife survive and thrive on your land, you can learn more about becoming an HSA member here.
UWR at NatureFest, June 7, 2022, by Vice President Dave Sauder
On June 7, I represented UWR at Mr. B's NatureFest in Galloway Township, sharing information about the Refuge and its mission. There were hundreds of students and many teachers from Reeds Road Elementary, and Roland Rogers and Galloway Township Middle Schools in attendance. Students were required to complete various assignments at the event. Some gave presentations regarding the local environment, flora and/or fauna, while others had to come up with a fact from at least seven presenters. I initialed worksheets for students who included facts about UWR.
Snapshots of life at the Refuge
photo Dave Sauder
photo Dave Sauder
Beaver on the main pond
This beaver was recently spotted eating lily pads in the main pond, just beyond the viewing area near Headquarters. Water lilies are a favorite food item, and beavers are known to eat the entire plant--flowers, roots, seed capsules, and leaves (pads). As herbivores, beavers consume a variety of woody and aquatic vegetation, including: leaves, twigs, stems, bark, cattails, sedges and rushes. Kits, usually born between April and June, are nursed for about six weeks, but they begin to try other foods as they grow. When the babies are between two and three weeks old, other family members help to bring them fresh branches and leaves to nibble on. They will teach the kits how to eat the soft inner layer of bark from trees, as well as cattails, grass, ferns and mushrooms. Although it is kit season, this adult appeared in no rush, enjoying some time alone with a snack.
Carolina wren nest
Carolina wren nest with eggs in propane tank
While shutting off the propane heaters in the Miller House for the summer season, we noticed this Carolina wren nest with eggs below the propane tank cover. Carolina wrens nest in open cavities 3-6' off the ground, in trees, overhangs and stumps. They're versatile nesters though, and they may instead make use of a variety of other items near homes including discarded flowerpots, mailboxes, and boots. The nest is cup-shaped, and usually domed, with a side entrance, and often a woven extension like a porch or entrance ramp. It's constructed of a variety of materials such as bark, grass, pine needles, hair, feathers, shed snakeskin, and string. Nests may range from 3-9" long and 3-6" wide. Mom flew off when we first lifted the cover, though she will have returned shortly after. Luckily we will not need to access the tank again until long after her young have hatched and fledged.
Juvenal's duskywing butterfly puddles at Headquarters
This butterfly, a Juvenal's duskywing, was seen puddling outside of Headquarters in April. Juvenal's duskywings are early emerging, spring butterflies found in open areas near oak woodlands, dirt roads and trails, and woodland stream edges. They often "puddle," sipping moisture from damp ground where they sit with open wings. Although this individual was alone, they may be encountered in large puddle clubs, which can include other species of duskywings. Both males and females puddle, though males more frequently, as they need the obtained nutrients for reproduction. In NJ, they can be seen from late March through late June, and they can be confused with Horace's duskywing, a similar species more abundant in mid to late summer.
trail camera photo
Trustee Dave Sauder spots a fox
While patrolling along the boundary line, I was observing the different heights of vegetation in the adjacent fields. I noticed two pointed objects in the distance. As I got closer I could view the outline of a head and ears. At first I thought s/he was a young deer, but to my amazement s/he turned out to be a fox. I couldn't tell if s/he was a red or gray fox, being that s/he was partially behind the vegetation. Before I got my binoculars to my eyes s/he disappeared. At the spot where I saw him/her, I found what appeared to be the den: a mound of dirt with a small hole at the base.
The Refuge is home to both red and gray foxes. A fox is shown here via trail camera footage from 2020. Although we don't often get to photograph the foxes on the Refuge directly, we do regularly see evidence of their presence via dens, and trail camera footage.
photo by Bill Cahill
Repeat visitor photographs southern twayblade
One of our local repeat visitors provided us with this photograph of the southern twayblade plant, taken at the end of April along one of the inner trails. Southern twayblade is a native perennial herbaceous orchid that blooms from April to early May. In New Jersey it grows in bogs, moist hardwood forests, swamps, and marshes in and around the Pine Barrens. It frequently goes unnoticed because the flowers are small and its camouflaging colors make it blend in to the surrounding habitat, especially in shade. Contributing to its elusive nature, the plant has a single stem which may not appear every year, and when it does it only lasts for a few weeks.
Snapping turtles can take hours to lay their clutch
We witnessed this female snapping turtle's nesting event in two parts. Initially, we saw her along the edge of the dirt road just before dusk, on our way out on an errand. About an hour later, with the sun having set, we returned to find her in the same area, having dug her nest in a mound just off the road. Snapping turtles nest in May or June, digging a shallow bowl-shaped nest in a well-drained location with their powerful hind legs. Over a period of several hours, the female lays approximately 20-40 white, soft-shelled eggs roughly the size and shape of ping-pong balls. Young hatch in 80-90 days, using an “egg tooth” to break open the leathery shell. They grow slowly, with many females taking more than a decade to reach maturity. Some females are nearly 20 years old by the time they deposit their first clutch of eggs.
Visit from a ring-necked snake
This ring-necked snake was recently moved to safety from the driveway outside of Headquarters. Ring-necked snakes are small, slender snakes with an average adult length of 10-15". They inhabit open woodlands, hillsides, and edges of water bodies where rocks, leaf litter, logs, and other debris are present for the snakes to hide. Their name refers to the distinct yellow, orange or red band around the neck (though some lack that distinctive neck ring). They also have vibrant ventral coloration, that can be yellow, orange, or red. Generally nocturnal they feed primarily on small lizards, salamanders, frogs, toads, earthworms, and even juvenile snakes of other species.
Longtime supporter, Gary Wonderlin shares about recent Refuge visit
All one could hear in this, the middle of New Jersey, was the wind rustling through the trees, and it was loud and powerful. In the big pond, ducks were gliding in for a landing, obviously settling on the water for a peaceful night’s sleep. Wouldn’t we all be so lucky to leave a legacy of over 700 acres of undisturbed nature?! There are also others who are leaving a legacy in their own right: those who volunteer to manage the Trust left by the former owners, those who maintain the trails, and those who patrol to discourage hunters from entering, among other things. Anyone else out there interested in leaving a legacy?!
Beavers in the news
Here are some recent news media articles concerning beavers. You can see our entire and growing 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.
Beaver Relocation Underway in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, by Shari Phiel.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest photo courtesy Cascade Forest Conservancy
Jakubowski and White have now been working together on the Woods Creek project for more than a year. In April 2021, White released two adult beaver in the area, and there are signs that at least one has remained. Although no beaver were spotted Thursday, there were signs of recent activity, such as chewed tree stumps and use of the artificial beaver dams.
Prior to relocation, nuisance beavers were typically euthanized. According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, an average of 1,000 beaver are still trapped each year. For many, the animals do nothing more than damage trees and cause flooding. But rather than euthanizing the animals, Jakubowski and White would like to see them returned to the native habit where they can fit into the ecosystem.
"My interest is in restoring the beaver wetlands and the ponds that used to be here for wildlife, beaver and fish," Jakubowski said.
Cumberland Abandons Plan to Trap ‘Nuisance’ Beavers Because State Law Requires They Be Killed, Not Relocated, by Colleen Cronin.
A town plan to trap “nuisance” beavers to reduce the flooding they cause has been halted after a town official learned the captured animals would be killed.
Mayor Jeff Mutter said the town stopped trapping beavers after a news article on the plan was published May 19, and he became aware the beavers would be killed and not relocated. “We suspended the activity the very next day,” Mutter said. He explained that at the time of approving the action, he didn’t realize state law required trapped beavers be killed unless they were released back into the same area.
Mutter said the town will explore other techniques before resorting to killing the beavers again.
Help wildlife everywhere
photo courtesy sierraclub.org
Reinstate Endangered Species Protections For Gray Wolves
Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves are being hunted and trapped in devastating numbers as a result of anti-wolf laws passed by hostile states. After decades of conservation efforts to restore wolves to the lands they once roamed, some states are giving hunters and trappers free reign to kill wolves and to do so using barbaric practices.
Tell Acting USFWS Director Martha Williams to reinstate endangered species protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies here.
photo courtesy sierraclub.org
Help Save Our Bees and the Planet!
Get Congress to pass critical protections for pollinators! Toxic pesticides called neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” are killing bees and putting ¼ of what we eat at risk -- as everything from apples to watermelon depends on bee pollination. American beekeepers reported an estimated loss of 44 percent of their hives last year.
Congress must put an end to this crisis. Tell Congress to pass the "Saving America's Pollinators Act."
To help save our bees, visit here.
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge
Mailing address: PO Box 765, Newfield, New Jersey 08344-0765