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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News 2015

December 2015

29th, update: We are disheartened and saddened to learn that today, Mayor Kelaher of Toms River authorized the state to enter Lake Placid with crush traps to kill the beavers who reside there. After weeks of discussions with us, our engineers, the Humane Society and Senator Corey Booker's office. After we offered to pay for, build, install and maintain the flow devices that they need. They are setting the traps now. Please, if you are local, call or email the Mayor's office and politely ask them to remove the traps until we can discuss this further. Toms River Mayor: 732-341-1000 ext. 8255 – VVH

29th: We love this documentary on the industry, brilliant engineering and the importance of beavers to the ecosystem. After once trapping them nearly to extinction in the United States, the rebound of the beaver is one of ecology's success stories. Watch the whole documentary online.

As we work on convincing Toms River not to kill the beavers on Lake Placid, this is a good reminder of whom we are trying to save. – VVH

23rd: We and expert engineers have been trying to convince Toms River to install a proper flow device instead of killing this family who many residents attest have greatly improved the habitat. If you are a resident or know a resident of Toms River, please politely let Mayor Kelaher know that you support the idea of letting us in to install something more effective. We have even offered to build it and monitor it for them. 732-341-1000 ext. 8255

Killing animals because we find them inconvenient should not be an option. Beavers are clever, industrious, family-oriented animals and necessary to the ecosystem and we now know it is possible to live beside them without conflict," Veronica Van Hof, director of Unexpected Wildlife Refuge. – VVH photo

21st: Funguses are fascinating and diverse. From their varied life cycles to their shapes and color ... They are neither plant nor animal but are more closely related to animals! I do love finding jelly funguses (fungi and funguses are both correct) for their vibrancy and texture are just ... Cool. This is "Witch's Butter" Tremella aurantia. You can tell this apart from the very similar-looking Dacrymyces palmatus by looking at the environment. T. aurantia prefers to grow on dead trees that still have their bark. – VVH Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

16th: Our work in Toms River to save the family of beavers who are slated to be killed in lethal traps on December 26 is getting a lot of coverage this week -- and lots of offers of help. Mike Callahan from Beaver Solutions is consulting with me for free and Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife's engineer Owen Brown is offering to pitch in, too.

"More humane, compassionate and ethical methods of discouraging beavers from damming waterways and causing flooding exist. In the long run, these preferred methods are more successful and actually save money."VVH
Beaver lodge, Lake Placid, Toms River

13th: Thank you again to all of the volunteers that helped us patrol during this week's New Jersey firearm season. We made it through the week entire without hearing a single shot fired! And thank you to everyone who supports our work. It means the world to the wildlife our boundaries protect.

-Original artwork by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci for UWR's December 1969 newsletter. – VVH
Elma Dean poem, artwork by Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci

9th: I love this part of the Refuge. It's like a giant, living, outdoor sculpture garden. – VVH Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

8th: We have been 'experimenting' with an infrared trail camera to see who is around when we are not there to disturb them. This is an exciting new venture for the Refuge, initiated by our Director. It will be nice to see vignettes of wildlife going about their lives. Much of what may get recorded will probably not be 'exciting', but we hope you will at least be as interested in this 'hidden' world as we are.

In addition to a still photo of a lovely doe, we just had a raccoon wander by in the early evening (see video at right). You can see a larger version by clicking here. – NCB

3rd: We love the rain. The swamps and the peat bog and the pond have been loving the rain (I've seen the squirrels happier, though). But I'll admit, after three days of unabating rain, it's awesome to have sunlight on the trails today. – VVH Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

November 2015

29th: We want to show you some beautiful Turkey tail fungus carving a niche alongside this seafoam green foliate Green shield lichen. But we're going to give Linnaeus some love today and tell you to enjoy this shot of Trametes versicolor sharing some tree space with Flavoparmelia caperata.

Fallen trees when left in place are essential to the ecosystem and make perfect habitats for sometimes hundreds of different species at a time. – VVH
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

28th: Our bogs can't be peat! Stopping along our patrol to search bog iron and make bad puns among the sphagnum mosses. – VVH Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

27th: The water awoke enshrouded in a steam fog as the night's cool air brushed across it. It's that kind of fog that is gone in minutes but the Refuge this morning was a little quieter. – VVH Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

21st: November evening, sunset on the water. The conversations of Canada geese and wood ducks were overlapping each other.

Photo by – VVH
Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

19th: Our new Director has been settling in and dealing with the myriad of issues that she is facing in her new position, not the least of which has been daily patrols of our borders. Luckily, she has been able to enlist the help of several volunteers to make the job easier.In the meantime, her partner, Cliff Compton, who is a photographer, was able to take several aerial photographs of the Refuge. The left one is an overview of much of the Refuge, showing the main pond and surrounding lush habitat. The right one shows the main pond 'up close'. – NCB

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge from the air, courtesy Cliff Compton Unexpected Wildlife Refuge main pond from the air, courtesy Cliff Compton

October 2015

Greetings from the Refuge. We are pleased to announce that we have found and hired a new Director for the Refuge. Her name is Veronica Van Hof. She holds a degree in wildlife biology and has been looking for a position in which she can use her education and experience to further the cause of wildlife through habitat protection, the primary mission of the Refuge. She begins in mid-November. We hope you will join us in welcoming and supporting her in this important endeavor. At the moment, hunting season has started and that is keeping everyone busy seven days a week. Fortunately, although people still would like to get onto the Refuge where the animals are abundant and safe, they are at least respecting our borders.

Speaking of animals at the Refuge, take a look at this short video of a beaver swimming in one of the ponds. We hope you will enjoy this as much as we did. If the video does not show in your browser, try clicking here. – NCB