Wild Bunch Newsletter - October 2005
Wild Bunch wishes to give you a brief update of our activities during the month of September. 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.
In the past month, the refuge took in and cared for 37 squirrels, 1 blue heron, 1 pigeon, 7 rabbits, 3 Ospreys, 1 Great Horned Owl, 1 Screech owl, 1 fawn, 1 Bald Eagle, 1 dove, 2 raccoons and 3 flying squirrels.
The refuge had two interesting patients this season that confused some of those that tried to identify them. A call came in that two coyotes were in need of care. When they arrived at the refuge, it was originally determined that they were gray foxes, not coyotes. These two foxes had such a bad case of mange that they had virtually no fur. As they were treated and began to heal, the new fur coming in revealed they were in fact red foxes. They are just now getting a distinctive white tip on the end of their tails which identifies a red fox. It is amusing to note, that even those of us in the business of working with wildlife can sometimes be confused.
One of our major accomplishments in September was the release of a group of 12 raccoons, the largest group that we have released at one time. We always carefully plan our releases but with the 12, extra thought and preparation was required. All had been wormed and vaccinated for feline and canine distemper, parvo, and rabies while we were caring for them. All had come as orphans last spring and were about 6 or 7 months old and healthy at release time. On a lovely early fall day, we got them into carriers (no easy task) and drove them to the refuge where they were put in two release cages in the woods that would become their new home. Diana O'Connor cared for them in the release cages for a few days. Then, on another fine September day, Erika and Bonnie went to the refuge, moved half of the group to the cage nearest the stream so that the whole group could be reunited and released from one cage. The cage window was opened and the 12 raccoons walked down the ramp to the ground. It was a happy release. Before we left them to their new lives, we observed six of them splashing together in the stream, several playing in the nest boxes that are above or near the release cage, and some starting to climb the trees. The release cage window will be open to them for some time and supplemental food will be provided to help them make their transition. They had been a delightful group to care for and though we knew we would miss them, we were pleased to see the good start they were making. We expect to do a True Story on the group soon.
This month's True Story on the website is â€œOur Water Hawk- the Ospreyâ€�. We have become increasingly interested in the natural history of the Osprey as more than 25 were cared for at the refuge this past summer. The Northern Neck area is ideal Osprey habitat as it is not only an area with open rivers but also has protected shallow waterways. Diana O'Connor is amazing in her ability to manage these difficult raptors and, over the years, has developed a reputation as an expert in this field of rehabilitation. We think you will enjoy reading about this highly adaptable and fascinating hawk.
As always, we are grateful for your much needed donations. As the number of animals we take in each year continues to grow, so do our expenses. The financial burden on Wild Bunch to provide all the supplies, food, medication and equipment that rehabilitation demands is very challenging. Financial donations can be mailed to Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation, 402 W. Alexandria Ave., Alexandria, VA 22302. In addition to financial support, we also have a great need for volunteers to help out at the refuge. If you or anyone you know is able to spend even a weekend day helping with chores, please call us at 804-313-2240. We rely deeply on your support and appreciate everything you do to help us out.