Newsletter Archive

Wild Bunch Newsletter - February 2005

Wild Bunch wishes to give you a brief update of our activities during the month of January. 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.

We received no new animals in January but we took advantage of the relatively quiet pre-baby season to do such things as minor maintenance and improvement projects, update educational materials, attend classes on rehabilitation-related topics, plan educational events, and, of course, answer wildlife-related phone calls from the public and care for the animals that are being over wintered.

During the unseasonable warm weather in early January, several bat calls were received. Normally, bats hibernate this time of the year, but during exceptionally warm weather this time of year, they wake up and get in trouble at night when the temperatures sink below 50 degrees and their ability to fly is impaired.

Also, during January, we received more calls than usual about mangy foxes. Sarcoptic mange causes intensive itching, and the resultant scratching can cause multiple infections. The fox is unable to hunt and is driven to go out in the daytime to search for food. People often mistake this behavior for rabies. Mange can be treated without capturing the animal. We can supply you with the necessary medication and instructions. If the mangy fox consumes the drug, which is disguised in baked chicken legs, the mange mites will be killed. The result is dramatic. You will have saved the animal from an agonizing death. Charlene has produced a very informative general fact sheet on foxes that we provide to the public when we receive fox questions.

This January was also the month, due to the cold weather, the inaugural activities, as well as many other public events, that quite a few fur coats have been spotted. It is amazing that the message has not gotten out about what it takes to produce these fur coats or other articles of fur.

The yearly fur sales represent the ultimate insult to the animals that were sacrificed for human vanity. Each year, approximately 10 million animals are trapped in the wild so that they can be skinned for fur coats. The primary tools used by fur trappers are the following: the leghold trap, the body grip (conibear) trap, and the wire snare. Although 74 percent of Americans oppose the use of the leghold trap, Congress has not banned its use. In fact, the leghold trap has been banned in eighty-eight countries, but only 8 states in the U.S. have passed legislation to prohibit leghold traps despite volumes of documentation proving that leghold traps mutilate wild animals, are non-selective in what they catch, and are a danger to companion animals and children.

The real price of furs must be measured in deaths, not dollars. To make one regular size fur coat, you must kill at least: 55 wild minks, 35 ranch minks, 27 raccoons, 40 sables, 11 lynx, 18 red foxes, 11 silver foxes, 100 chinchillas, 30 rex rabbits, 9 beavers, 30 muskrats, 15 bobcats, 25 skunks, 14 otters, 125 ermines, 30 opossums or 100 squirrels.

Wearing a fur coat says one of two things about you: either you don't know the real price of fur or you don't care.

If you have a fur coat and no longer wish to wear it, you may donate it to Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation, The Human Society of the United States, or other animal protection organizations and receive a tax benefit. During these cold winter months, donated fur coats are used in raccoon sleeping boxes and are enjoyed by many animals that have to be over wintered because they were born too late in the year to be released in the fall.

Richard Thorpe, our volunteer master carpenter, somehow found the time to build and install, at his own expense, more raccoon tree nesting boxes as well as squirrel feeders. As always, he drives long distances and spends hours assembling and installing the boxes. Especially during inclement weather, all the tree nesting boxes are occupied. When Rich mounted one of the boxes in Erika's large magnolia tree, it was discovered that a large opossum had taken over an adjacent nesting box. At the Wild Bunch refuge, an owl is now occupying a nesting box near the release cages.

Wildlife rehabilitators are required to attend several hours of classes each year. Typically, these classes are offered during the relatively quiet winter months. In January, Erika and Bonnie attended classes sponsored by the Wildlife Rescue League of Northern Virginia on opossum care and on common diseases and injuries of migratory birds. The informative classes were taught by experienced, knowledgeable, and well-respected rehabilitators.

Diana O'Connor is at home recuperating from a successful knee replacement surgery. She is hoping to be back at the refuge in time for the March baby season. Erika, Bonnie and Charlene plan to visit the refuge to see how things are holding up though the winter and to give Kate Ryan, a new volunteer, a tour of the Wild Bunch Refuge.

This month's True Story on the website is "The Night of the Foxes", which features exciting details about a complex and difficult, but ultimately successful, rescue of three fox kits that were trapped in a window well during a severe storm.

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 generous donations and would truly welcome any offers to help out at the refuge. We rely deeply on your support and appreciate everything you do to help us out.

Erika Yery .