Newsletter Archive

Wild Bunch Newsletter- March 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.

As winter continues, we are busy preparing for the upcoming baby season. Diana O’Connor continues to recuperate from knee surgery; she is in great spirits and full of energy. Although no new animals have recently arrived, we received several calls about injured deer, raccoons, squirrels and opossums. We continue to get calls about mangy foxes. We are pleased with the enthusiasm of those that are willing to follow the protocol and use the medication we provide to help these animals. We are happy to hear of the many successes. We have also received a large number of fur donations, which we use in the nest boxes of the animals that are being over-wintered. We are pleased with the responsible attitude so many people are taking towards this issue.

The seven raccoons that were too young to be released last fall continue to winter over in a large outdoor enclosure. They are now big, handsome, healthy, and increasingly rambunctious. At this time of year, one of our challenges is to continually provide the maturing animals with new items and activities to keep them occupied and help further develop the skills they will need in the wild. Intelligent animals, raccoons are naturally inquisitive and, in captivity, they can become easily bored. Our seven are living in a spacious two room outdoor cage that is equipped with a large dead tree, nest boxes, ledges, branches, a rope ladder, old fire hoses, a toddler's bucket swing, tubes, numerous hollow tree stumps, a small pool, and a changing assortment of toys, stuffed animals, and other objects. The animals scrutinize any new item that is put in the cage. After they determine that it is not a threat, they are soon busy with it, putting it to uses even we didn't imagine. The seven will be released in early spring when the weather is more moderate and there is more natural food available to them in the meadows and forests.

We will miss the seven raccoons when they are released but we know that other orphans needing our care will soon be arriving. Some baby squirrels have already been born this winter. Squirrel rehabilitators have reported that they have received a few of the new babies. Soon, there will be baby raccoons and foxes and, with early spring, a new cycle will begin what is always a very busy time for us.

Bonnie, Charlene, and Erika met with our new member and caregiver, Katie Ryan, at the Wild Bunch Refuge for a tour of the facility. It was a beautiful winter day with the sun shining and, due to the lack of leaves on the trees and a clearer forest floor, we were able to explore a much greater part of the refuge than is normally accessible. We always forget the many streams and valleys that are part of the refuge and make it such a wonderful release area. We know our animals are in the best environment possible. We were pleased to see the new nesting boxes that Rich Thorpe installed and speculated on which animals might be in them.

Katie is eager and willing to help Diana with organizing her wildlife files and will also work with Diana’s husband, Dennis, to get the new barn organized. There is so much to be done and very few helpers to accomplish all that is needed to prepare for the upcoming season. One of our greatest wishes is to get more devoted and reliable volunteers to help at the refuge.

Pat Chamberlain, who is a well-known, long-time Northern Virginia rehabilitator, has recently moved to Essex County, which is close to the refuge. Pat specializes in opossums, squirrels, bunnies, and chipmunks. She will work with Diana to help in the rehabilitation of these animals. While those in the Northern Virginia area will surely miss Pat, we are excited to have another well-trained rehabilitator in the Northern Neck.

Amo Merritt, a rehabilitator with the Rappahannock area Wildlife Rehabilitators' Network, organized and conducted an all day workshop on Saturday, February 26 in Fredericksburg. Erika, Charlene, and Bonnie were among the many attendees. The training seminar included sessions on such topics as how to trap wild animals in need of care, wound management, and rehabilitation of turtles, fawns, raptors, and raccoons. Erika spoke about the raccoon rehabilitation. The workshop provided a wealth of useful information and a great opportunity to meet rehabilitators from other areas of Virginia.

This month’s True Story on the website is “Raccoon Fact and Fancies�. This interesting and informative article, which Erika researched and wrote, explains in detail the natural history of raccoons, some of their less fortunate encounters with humans, diseases they are susceptible to, rehabilitation information and other interesting facts about these fascinating animals.

As always, we are grateful for your many generous donations and would truly welcome any offers to help out at the refuge. We know the number of animals we will take in this year will grow. With that, so do our expenses and the volume of work that must be accomplished to maintain the refuge. We rely deeply on your support and appreciate everything you do to help us out.

Please invite your friends and family to visit our website to find out about our refuge and the work we do. 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.

We wish all our Wild Bunch friends and family a warm and happy spring.