Wild Bunch Newsletter - December 2004
Wild Bunch wishes to give you a brief update of our activities during the month of November. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Virginia organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of native wildlife. 83 acres in the Northern Neck of Virginia near the Rappahannock River serve as our wildlife refuge. The officers and directors are Erika Yery, Pat Crusenberry, Diana O'Connor, Charlene DeVol and Bonnie Brown.
After such a busy spring, summer, and early fall, November at the refuge was very quiet. No new animals arrived, so the focus was on releasing the remaining wildlife that had been in our care and were now ready to return to the wild. Due to illness in her family, Diana has spent much of her time recently in Northern Virginia away from the refuge. In her absence, Hope Groves has been watching over the refuge. Hope started out as a helper at the refuge in 2002 and has now become a permitted apprentice rehabilitator. She specializes in songbirds but is always willing to take on other animals in need. We are grateful for her help. Her husband has also been busy completing shelves for the new barn at the refuge.
Early in the month, Erika visited the refuge to inspect the latest improvements to the property: a new asphalt driveway that leads from the road to the intake center and repairs made to the long dirt path that goes from the intake center to the release cages and feeding stations. Both projects were overdue and needed to be completed before winter. Upkeep of the refuge is an ongoing concern both in terms of time and finances.
Erika received a number of wildlife related calls during the month. Most involved foxes and injured raccoons as well as calls from people worried about chances for winter survival of young wildlife they were seeing around their homes. In the latter cases, Wild Bunch sent a rehabilitator to check and determine if the animals were all right on their own or if they should to be taken to a rehabber to be cared for through the winter. During the unseasonably warm weather this November, several bat calls have come in. Normally, bats hibernate this late in the year but during warmer weather, they become active and then get in trouble at night when the temperatures sink below 50 degrees and their ability to fly is impaired.
Erika also handled a situation that involved a raccoon that was accidentally caught in a trap intended for feral cats. The woman, who had set the trap, wanted the raccoon taken away and relocated but Erika convinced her to release it in the same area where it was living. The womanâ€™s willingness to follow Erikaâ€™s advice and the good will it created illustrate what we always hope to achieve in helping the public deal with wildlife issues. The womanâ€™s follow up email said in part: Erika convinced us to let the raccoon go. Its only crime was eating the feral catsâ€™ food in the garage. It has never bothered the trash nor done anything destructive, so a little extra cat food for the raccoon is no big deal. It appears to be living in a small group of trees with a large pile of cut trees and limbs right behind our house. As soon as it was released, it never looked back and ran home. We were struck at its beauty, as it happens I have never seen a live one except on TV. It was camera shy and very docile, but I'm sure it was worn out from trying to get out (of the trap) all night. If it becomes a nuisance at least we have several contacts now for help, but for right now, we lost our hearts to it."
Some old friends and some new friends made special contributions to Wild Bunch recently. Stan Polinsky sent another "care package" from his property in South Carolina. This included acorns, black walnuts and other natural animal treats that the raccoons, which are being over wintered, are enjoying. We are always looking for as much natural food as possible to feed our wildlife. In addition to such foods as eggs, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, we provide many of the animals with dry dog and cat food. Besides the small number of raccoons that are wintered over, we have feeding stations in several areas around the refuge property that must be filled once or twice a week. We always need lots of dry dog and cat food as we use at least 100 pounds of food a week and much more during the winter months, when natural foods are more scarce. While we greatly appreciate the donations of pet food we receive from local animal shelters, it is never enough to feed all the released animals as well as others that visit the feeding stations. We hope to work out an arrangement with a large pet store, grocery store, or other store that sells pet food whereby they will donate to Wild Bunch their damaged and/or expired pet food that they would otherwise discard.
We are also grateful to Bruce Miller for taking care of a major overhaul and repair to one of our large outdoor cages. Bruce also provided us with several hollow logs. These are put in the cages where the wild critters love to sleep and play in them.
Rich Thorpe made a large number of nesting boxes and took the time to drive them from his Northern Virginia home to the refuge and install them in the trees surrounding the release cages and feeding station boxes. Rich has been a tremendous help to us this year and always comes through for us when we need him.
Dependable volunteers are vital to Wild Bunch and we welcome all those who are seriously interested in helping, including those who wish to help clean and care for the animals. This month, Charlene, Bonnie and Erika met with a new prospective caregiver, Kate Ryan. Kate lives in Northern Virginia and has a vacation home near the refuge. She is willing to help at both the Wild Bunch refuge and at Erika's in Alexandria. Diana plans to arrange a tour of the refuge for Kate and discuss with her areas where she may be able to help out at the refuge.
This month, to celebrate the holidays, we are departing from our usual True Story format on the Web site and are featuring a wonderful poem, "A Christmas Tale," by Peggi Rodgers. It is accompanied by a delightful drawing which portrays the fun loving animals that are the subject of the poem.
As always, we are grateful for your generous donations. We rely deeply on your support and appreciate everything you do to help us out. We wish all our Wild Bunch friends and family a wonderful holiday season.