Newsletter Archive

Wild Bunch Newsletter- April 2005

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 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 a long winter, with very little activity, the wildlife rehab season has officially started. Our food and supplies are ready and most repairs and general maintenance has been completed. Our seven over wintered raccoon guests will soon be released and necessary repairs will be made to the large outdoor cage where they have spent the past few months. We are now gearing up for an influx of more animals as the weeks progress and the weather gets warmer. In the past month, the refuge received 1 Chickadee, 1 Coopers Hawk, 1 Sea Gull and 1 Screech Owl. Erika received 6 baby raccoons.

Many of the animals we received are victims of human carelessness. Such was the case with the Chickadee, which arrived after having been caught in a glue trap that had been placed in a barn to get rid of mice. This bird sustained broken bones and lost numerous feathers in it’s’ struggle to free itself. Every effort was made to help but, even after the glue was removed, too much damage had been done. This is an all too common occurrence when glue traps are used. Although they are generally intended for mice and rats, many other innocent victims are killed. Chipmunks, birds and even small pets can become trapped, and many die a horrible death. Not only are they incredibly cruel, glue traps are not effective in eliminating mice and rat populations. Rodents can always repopulate a dwelling at a much faster rate than they can be caught on glue boards. The surest and more humane way to combat a rodent problem is to seal any possible entryways, block interior pathways and eliminate sources of food.

Calls are starting to come in regarding raccoons in attics. Attics are a very desirable place for a mother to make a nest for babies. If there is a way in, they will find it and are drawn to the privacy, warmth and dryness. We always stress that the mother will normally move the babies after 6-7 weeks, once they are older and become mobile. We strongly encourage the homeowners to allow the babies to mature and move on with the mother at the appropriate time. After they have vacated, repairs must be made to the opening and prevent further inhabitants.

During mid March, Erika, Bonnie and Charlene visited Gretl Learned at her Fern Wildlife Refuge in Winchester. Gretl, an experienced and extremely skilled rehabilitator, takes in a large number of injured and orphaned wild animals in her area. Gretl’s refuge encompasses 23 acres in the mountains. Her property is particularly noteworthy for the large, elaborate brush piles that Gretl continues to construct and maintain for the wide variety of wildlife in the area. Because her property is considered a transitional forest, many of the older trees are falling and there is not enough underbrush to serve as shelter for wildlife such as birds, groundhogs, opossums and skunks. We learned that there is a wrong way and a right way to build a brush pile. It is important to have several chambers, which are divided by logs, each having more than one entrance. This is to allow an animal to escape if it is pursued by a predator. It is also critical to have a sturdy roof, also made with logs and then covered by many layers of branches, sticks, leaves, etc. Some of these brush piles were 15 ft. in length and quite high. Needless to say, we were very impressed and commend Gretl for the responsibility she takes in the surrounding habitat at her refuge.

Now that Erika’s revised and updated raccoon manual is complete, we are currently planning a very comprehensive and informative raccoon care and rehabilitation class for April. The class will include several new apprentice rehabilitators who are interested in caring for raccoons.

The true story of the month on our website is "Our Mischievous Wild Neighbor, The Gray Squirrel". They are the ones most commonly seen animal in our area and are frequent visitor to our backyards. They are very intelligent and quite entertaining. This in depth article will cover their characteristics, natural diet, breeding patterns and where they live. It is interesting to note that in addition to tree dens, squirrels build nests, called dreys that vary in their type of construction and durability depending on the season.

Please visit our website at to find out more about our refuge and the work we do, as well as how to contact us and make donations. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. If you would like any friends or relatives added to our list of newsletter recipients, email us at 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.

As always, we are grateful for your many generous donations and would truly welcome any offers to help out at the refuge. The number of animals we take in each year continues to grow and so our expenses. 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 happy spring.