Wild Bunch Newsletter -- March 2004
Wild Bunch wishes to give you a brief update of our activities during the month of March. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Virginia organization devoted to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of native wildlife. 83 acres have been developed in the Northern Neck of Virginia near the Rappahannock River to serve as our refuge. The officers and directors are Erika Yery, Pat Crusenberry, Diana O'Connor, Charlene DeVol and Bonnie Brown.
Erika recently received a 2-day-old male baby raccoon. He was the first raccoon baby of the 2004 season. Sadly, he had internal bleeding and despite great effort, died peacefully a day later. The good news is the weather is finally warm enough to release our five raccoons that wintered over. They are healthy and getting very restless. This is a sure sign that they are ready to begin their lives in the wild. Among this group is the female that required hip surgery last year. She is going great and you would never realize she ever had a problem walking.
Erika also received a female red bat. Red bats are foliage dwelling, solitary bats that primarily roost in deciduous trees. Female bats are usually a grayish red while males are a real red. They are the earliest active bats in spring in the Virginia area. At the refuge, Diana received a mother red bat last year with two pups riding on her back. The pups were so heavy that the mother could not fly and the group ended up on the ground. Diana kept the family until the pups were old enough to fly off with their mother.
A big adventure took place over the weekend of March 27th. Erika got a call from the Fire Department in Merrifield, VA about a baby fox that was spotted in their driveway. After some investigation, a den was discovered and several more were seen. Erika headed over with the intention of telling them to leave the babies at the den and the mother would return. Unfortunately the mother did not return and some hours late, Erika she arrived home with 7 babies. It is highly unusual for a vixen to have such a large litter. Even more amazing is that there was another call the next morning telling her there was indeed another baby in the den. In addition, the game warden had picked up a single baby at an earlier time. After some coordinating, these latest two arrived at Erika's, bringing the total to nine. The mystery is still unfolding and we will certainly share this story and tell you how they are doing in a future True Story.
Bonnie and Erika went to the Wild Bunch refuge to visit with Diana and meet with a contractor to discuss clearing the remains of the collapsed barn (lost during Hurricane Isabel) and clearing the woods of discarded old and rusted farm equipment and other unsightly items that deter from the beauty of the woods in the refuge. The demolition and removal of part of the old homestead that is in terrible shape and in danger of collapsing will also be taken care of. They also reviewed prospects for a new barn. Our most important focus right now is the clearing of the old barn, along with damaged equipment and debris so a new one can be put in place.
It was a fabulous trip with perfect sunny spring weather. Pussywillows were in bloom and frogs were active in the vernal pool. A variety of footprints could be seen along the banks of a large stream near the feeding stations. Mr. Scott, the local farmer, farms 18 acres of the property and was busy liming and cultivating the land to make it ready for this year's corn crop.
At the refuge, Diana received 1 ringneck duck, 1 black vulture, 1 great horned owl, 1 bald eagle, 4 opossum babies, and 3 cottontails. While we were there we were lucky to witness the release of the cottontails. Diana constructed a shelter of dead branches in an area with grass, dandelions and other greeneries rabbits eat. A shelter is necessary to protect rabbits from predators.
The story of the month on our website is appropriate for the time of the year. It is about Peter Rabbit, a rabbit that was found in the middle of a country road and picked up by a Good Samaritan. He was hemorrhaging through the nose and near death. Suzanne Fuller, a Wild Bunch member and licensed rehabilitator, cared for him and through her terrific efforts was able to release him in the wild.
Erika and Bonnie attended a raptor conservancy training class given by Kent Knowles on March 13th. This seminar specialized in raptor identification and how to capture and restrain raptors. Many hawks and other raptors are found along major highways after getting hit by speeding cars while they are feeding on road kill.
As always, we are grateful for your many generous donations. We have a busy year ahead and many expenses for the upkeep of the refuge, especially the replacement of our barn. We rely deeply on your support and appreciate everything you do to help us out. Please invite your friends and relatives to view our website. The more people that know about us and can find ways to contribute to the well being of our native Virginia wildlife the better for all.