Beaver Tales from Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, October 2020
Beaver & Cavit Buyukmihci
We hope that you and your loved ones remain safe and well during this continuing pandemic. Since our last newsletter, the Refuge has continued to provide an opportunity for people to visit and explore, enjoy the fresh air and observe abundant wildlife in a natural setting. We welcome visitors and look forward to sharing our very special safe haven for wildlife with you.
This issue of the newsletter is dedicated to Cavit Buyukmihci, who co-founded the Refuge with Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci. Although from the 'old country', with Hope's influence and example, he soon learned to appreciate and respect all animals as individuals, not as 'things' to exploit. His hard work as an engineer provided the initial resources to begin the Refuge and we are greatly indebted to his humanity and generosity.
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.... And, know that we and the wildlife are grateful for your continued support.
Contents of this month's newsletter:
Riders pose for photo
before next leg
Volunteers hand out refreshments
Bellview Winery rest stop
Refuge co-hosted TnT Cycling fundraising event
In September, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge co-hosted a fundraising event in conjunction with TnT Cycling of Lumberton, NJ. On Sunday, the 27th, 250 riders navigated a variety of cycling routes from White Horse Winery in Hammonton, to Bellview Winery in Landisville, with rest stops at both locations and a third rest stop at the Franklin Township Community Center. The Refuge hosted the rest stops at Bellview Winery and the Community Center, providing fruit and water refills to the cyclists. Four new volunteers assisted at the rest stops, along with Trustee Dave Sauder and our manager Jen Collins. We are indebted to Jorge Carmona, event organizer, for inviting the Refuge to take part and benefit from this event.
Brigitte and Jared
Former Eagle Scout returns to Refuge
In September, Jared Novak, formerly of Eagle Scout Troop 65, visited the Refuge with his fiance Brigitte Zschech. They met with our manager Jen, and Jared shared stories of when he volunteered at the Refuge with his troop in the summer of 2011. He and the other troop members installed our beaver viewing platform (seen in lower right of photo), at the main pond near Headquarters, which remains a very popular spot for our visitors. After meeting with Jen, Jared and Brigitte enjoyed the views of the main pond from the platform and hiked the trails.
photo World Animal Protection
Refuge becomes part of campaign to end wildlife trade
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge has joined a Coalition of non-human animal and environmental organizations calling on The White House 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. The Coalition, which is led by World Animal Protection and represents more than 10 million supporters across the US, has sent a letter urging the US Government to support this issue at the upcoming G20 Leaders' Summit taking place in November 2020.
The US is a leading importer 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.
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.
Beavers: Why give a dam | Ranger Ramblings, by Sam Richards.
Sam Richards on beaver dam
City of Colorado Springs
Flooding from beaver dams creates new wetlands upstream, and while they may not be the most visually stunning environments, there is more to these wet spots than meets the eye. Benefits of wetlands include providing critical habitat to an abundance of plants and animals, water storage, carbon fixation, stream bank reinforcement, enhanced nutrient cycling and flood protection.
The Trials and Tribulations of Beavers in Scotland: A Species of the Times, by Coreen Grant
After protected status was achieved in 2019, Pike stated that the reintroduction of beavers was about 'restoring the balance of nature that we have thrown so badly off-course and reappraising how we live alongside species other than ourselves.' It seems that now, in light of the report, a new reappraisal is needed if we are to retain beavers as a prospering part of our natural environment. In a wider perspective of climate emergency, in which the effects of a chronic decline in biodiversity are becoming increasingly apparent, the precarious future of beavers in Scotland highlights larger questions about our priorities going forward.
Beavers will make the River Otter a forever home after successful completion of trial
Beaver carrying food branch
'This work, carried out under a licence issued by Natural England, has confirmed the positive transformations that these animals can create, including the benefits they provide for many other species, such as fish, improving water quality and smoothing flood peaks.
'Reintroductions of iconic species like the beaver will be an important part of the Nature Recovery Network. We now look forward to working towards the next stages of management of beaver more widely across England.'
Rare beaver rescued in Xinjiang
On the afternoon of August 17, villagers found an injured beaver near the Bulgan River in Qinghe County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. ... The beaver is a subspecies of Eurasian beaver, named Castor fiber birulai. As the only beaver species living in China, it is extremely rare and is under first-class national protection.
Campaigns for wildlife in New Jersey
American black bears
Anton Sorokin/Alamy Stock Photo
Keep saying NO to bear hunting in New Jersey
The cruel hunting of New Jersey's iconic black bear has now begun. A proposed amendment, recently announced by the NJ Fish and Game Council, that would suspend the bear hunt starting next 'season' and prioritize non-lethal management strategies has no guarantee of being approved. In the meantime, the ongoing maiming and slaughter of these sentient and majestic animals with bows and arrows, rifles and shotguns, continues.
We need to keep up the pressure on this issue. Please continue to contact Governor Murphy and urge him to stop the hunt from going ahead this year by issuing an executive order:
Three petitions you should sign if you have not done so already:
Bobcat; Jean Beaufort
Wildlife killing contests continue in New Jersey
Washington recently became the seventh state in the country to ban wildlife killing contests, along with Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Vermont. These cruel contests, involving the mass slaughter of wild animals where participants compete for cash prizes, continue to take place in New Jersey.
Please help to stop this:
White-tailed deer safe at Refuge
Continued persecution of deer in New Jersey
Rather than seeking humane solutions when 'conflicts' arise between deer and people, the white-tailed deer is widely persecuted and killed in NJ. If you become aware of a wildlife conflict issue, please speak out and urge the implementation of non-lethal and humane methods to provide a resolution. Unexpected Wildlife Refuge and the Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ) provide further information on such methods that you may find useful:
Refuge information page on deer: Deer
APLNJ information page on deer: Deer Resources & Information
You can also help by supporting the APLNJ "Non-hunting license" campaign: Non-Hunting License
Together, let us stand up and speak out for wildlife!
Snapshots of life at the Refuge
Beavers via trail camera
Beavers via trail camera
Beavers passing by trail camera
Our trail cameras afford us the opportunity to view some of the residents of the Refuge who we might not otherwise get to see. Because these beavers were not carrying anything back with them as they returned to the water, we suspect this trip had more to do with foraging than building or adding onto existing structures. Beavers can usually relax a bit in the spring, when they 'took' these photos of themselves, as an abundance of vegetation brought by the season pauses their need to stockpile food. Beavers are herbivores, feasting on trees as well as plants that grow in or near the water including water lilies, grasses and clovers. By their size, we can tell that these are adult beavers, although, outside of a nursing mother, it is almost impossible to tell females and males apart by appearance. Note the tree to the right, that had been gnawed by beavers. Over a period of many months, the condition of that tree had not changed, suggesting that maybe it was just being used by the beavers for 'dental care'.
Female American goldfinch
Female American goldfinch
American goldfinch seeks food near Headquarters
While relaxing on the front porch of the new Headquarters building late one afternoon, our manager enjoyed a quick visit from this female American goldfinch who dropped by to forage for food amongst the gravel of the driveway. The American goldfinch is a granivore, their main source of food being seeds, though they may also feed on certain types of bark, vegetation and small insects. It is likely this individual nests close to Headquarters as she and her mate have been spotted together there a few times. Nesting during July and August, the female goldfinch builds a compact cup-shaped nest, usually in deciduous shrubs or trees. While she incubates the eggs, her mate will feed her, and when hatchlings emerge, both parents will care for their young.
Male eastern tiger swallowtail
Male eastern tiger swallowtail
Eastern tiger swallowtail puddles near Headquarters
This male eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly was seen mud-puddling near Headquarters, using his proboscis (a tube-like feeding structure similar to a tongue) to suck up nutrients from the sand. Males are attracted to sand and other substrates for the salt and amino acids they contain which can aid in their reproductive success. They have been found to transfer both to females during mating. Eastern tiger swallowtails are a dimorphic species females can be yellow like the males (differing with a bit of blue and orange on the hind wing) or a dark morph of an almost solid blue-black.
Aboveground groundhog adventures
We were happy to see our resident groundhog emerge from her burrow behind Headquarters this season as we were unsure if she had chosen a new site in the confusion and activity of the cabin demolition and new building construction. Groundhogs are generally active until the first real frost, usually in October or November, at which point they begin hibernation in their burrows until the weather warms up around February or March. On a few occasions over the summer, we were lucky enough to see at least one of this mother's pups exploring and becoming familiar with the surrounding area aboveground in preparation for when he or she would eventually set off on their own. The fur loss (alopecia) in the mother may be from skin parasites, but could be from a variety of other causes, and letting 'nature take its course' is ultimately the best thing for wildlife.
American bullfrogs along the main pond dike
American bullfrogs are usually quick to retreat when they perceive a threat such as our intrusion into their world so we do not always have the opportunity to see them up close. By the time we are close enough, they have already jumped into the water and out of sight. They can easily jump a distance of up to two meters, though generally the average is about one meter. Females and males can reach a body length of 15-20 cm, with females typically being larger than males. They have variation in color with light to dark shades of green and brown, and can be solid or spotted. On this day at our main pond, we quietly photographed these two individuals less than a meter apart from one another. Notice one is a lighter green with some faint, sporadic spotting and the other is a darker green-brown with a bolder spotted pattern on the hind legs.
Great blue heron (and turtles)
Great blue heron
Great blue heron views main pond domain
One sunny day in early summer, this great blue heron seemed to enjoy the vantage point provided by a tree stump in our main pond. At least one mated pair nests nearby. We often see them fishing in the pond or perched in the surrounding trees. We are also regularly alerted to their presence by their distinct call. In the first photo, she has her beak open allowing us a view of the tongue. Bird tongues have adapted to be specialized for specific diets. A great blue heron's tongue helps them consume a varied diet of fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The birds are over one meter tall, with males being slightly larger than females. Their wing span, sometimes over two meters, can be appreciated in the second photo as she flew off, passing over a few resident turtles resting on lily roots below.
American grass spider
American grass spider in her tunnel web
It is easy to miss the 'little creatures' when roaming through the Refuge. This is especially the case when there is competition for our attention from colorful birds or swimming mammals. While hiking near Miller Pond, our manager happened to look over to the side of the trail and spotted this lovely tunnel web. Luckily, she had the camera and was able to get a nice photo, not only of the web, but also showing the spider poised at the mouth of her tunnel (discernible if you enlarge the image), presumably waiting for someone on whom to prey. The American grass spider is just one of the numerous species of spiders who reside at the Refuge.
Canada goose family
Canada goose family
Canada goose family in a trail camera venue
Our trail camera near Wild Goose Blind provided a candid view of this Canada goose family this spring. In the first photo, the parents were with one of the goslings foraging at the water's edge. In the other photo, three goslings were 'in the frame', one barely visible. Although only three or four goslings were in the photos at any one time, clutch size is normally five or six. By late summer, surviving goslings would be taking to the air. Until then, they can proficiently swim and dive, starting when they are just one day old.
Raccoon 'fishing' after midnight
The photographic evidence of abundant activity at our Wild Goose Blind trail camera site is a treat to see when we examine the storage card. Here, a raccoon is seen searching for food at the shore line, the camera clock indicating just after 2 AM. Although we assume he was 'fishing', raccoons sometimes 'wash' their food in water. It is believed that this activity is more likely aimed at 'inspecting' their food for unwanted parts. The wetness of the hands increases their sensitivity. Whatever he was doing, we are glad to have a trail camera to record this rather than having to trek through the woods at two in the morning!
Northern red-bellied turtle
Northern red-bellied turtle
Red-bellied turtle in search of nesting site
The area surrounding the new Headquarters building has been a highly trafficked location for female turtles looking for sites to lay their eggs. Northern red-bellied turtles create their nests near water, digging a hole about ten cm deep and depositing 10-20 eggs, after which they cover the eggs with the earth they dug up and return to the water. Females are generally larger than males and their plastron (the underside portion of the shell) is bright red, whereas it tends to be pink in males. About 11 weeks after the female lays her eggs, hatchlings will emerge and make their way to the water. This journey is not without risk due to predators and is exacerbated by the relatively slow pace of the youngsters, often over a great distance.
A glimpse at our past
Otter, via trail camera in 2017
Son of Refuge co-founders reminisces about otters at the Refuge
Nedim Buyukmihci, Trustee and son of Refuge co-founders, related a fond memory of when he lived at the Refuge. I used to explore much of the habitat hoping to get a glimpse of the numerous species of animals who lived there. As an amateur herpetologist, I concentrated on snakes and other reptiles. But, I was always equally (almost) thrilled to see the various mammals, too. One of the elusive ones was the American river otter. I would occasionally get a glimpse of one or more swimming in the main stream that runs through the main pond, but never got to see them up close.
One day, my mother, who was always more patient than I, told me of a spot along the stream bank below the main pond where she had seen a mother otter and at least two pups. She advised that, if I went there very early in the morning and was particularly patient and did not fidget too much, I might get to see them. I took her advice, sat patiently in the cold and waited. Within a few minutes (a relief to a teenager with a relatively limited attention span), I saw the mother otter come out of her den and look around for danger. She then quickly disappeared back into her den and I thought she must have considered me a threat despite my valiant effort at remaining motionless, and almost got up to leave. But, to my delight, the next thing I knew, two pups emerged from the den and slid into the stream, followed by the mother. I spent many minutes watching the pups play in the water while 'mom' diligently watched out for danger. I could not have asked for more.
Take action to help wildlife at the Refuge
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! 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.
Canada goose family
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, please let us know and 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.
Red-eyed treefrog, Care2
Urge United Nations to address alarming loss of tropical animals
The Living Planet Report 2020 from the World Wildlife Fund revealed the devastating impact human beings are having on the planet. The Care2 Team have created a petition asking the United Nations to form a special task force to address the contributing factors to an almost 100% decrease in animal populations in the tropical Americas:
Please sign and share this petition: A new report just revealed that human action has killed over half the world's wildlife in just 50 years
Ask the Mauritius government to refuse a permit to capture wild monkeys and expand a primate breeding farm
Mauritius is considered a tropical paradise...for people. The long-tailed macaques who live there, however, are considered 'pests' and are widely persecuted. Not only do the monkeys have no protection, they are bred in captivity so that thousands are shipped each year to suffer and die in research laboratories worldwide. One of the companies, Biosphere Trading, is now asking the Mauritius government to grant it permission not only to expand its operations to 7,500 captive individuals, but also to allow it to trap wild monkeys as well, something increasingly being prohibited by other countries.
Please sign and share this petition: Urge Mauritius government to refuse permission for capture of wild monkeys and expansion of primate breeding farm for vivisection
Environmental Protection Agency should ban pesticides
Please sign this petition urging the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the use of neonicotinoids, a category of highly toxic pesticides that are applied to a crop's seed instead of the plant, thereby exposing birds to the deadly toxins: Owls, sparrows, and many more birds could go totally extinct thanks to Trump's irresponsible policies
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge
Mailing address: P.O. Box 765, Newfield, New Jersey 08344-0765
Web site: http://unexpectedwildliferefuge.org/