Newsletter Archive

Wild Bunch Newsletter - March 2006

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

Erika received one adult raccoon in February and Wild Bunch Wildlife Refuge took in one Barred Owl, one Cedar Waxwing, one Cooper's Hawk, one Goldfinch, one Kingfisher, one Screech Owl, and three Gray Squirrels. Erika continues to receive calls about foxes that are suffering from sarcoptic mange as well as questions and concerns about wildlife that woke up from hibernation or winter sleep due to the unusually warm weather we experienced in the first half of the month.

With "baby season� imminent, we are continuing to work on maintenance and improvement projects to our wildlife facilities and catch up on other projects. We have done inventories of supplies and equipment on hand and are now ordering items we will need to care for the animals that will soon be arriving. As with recent years, we are again expecting an increase in the number of animals that will need care. We believe that this is a result of several factors, including development of what little remains of wildlife's natural habitat in Northern Virginia, the loss of several area rehabilitators, and the public's growing awareness of the work we do. Charlene DeVol produced an excellent update of our one page information sheet on Wild Bunch that we give to authorities, the public, possible donors, and others.

We also use these quieter times to visit other rehabilitators. One crisp February morning, Bonnie and Erika made an eagerly anticipated visit to the Hampstead, Maryland headquarters of Wildlife Rescue, Inc, located north of Baltimore. Gerda Deterer, a longtime friend and rehabilitator colleague of Erika's, is the organization's founder, president, and executive director. In the two years since Wildlife Rescue acquired the Hampstead property, improvements have been made to the grounds and a large house was built, all with much forethought given to the rehabilitation needs of animals. Each year, Wildlife Rescue cares for over 2,400 sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals and, during rehab season, it receives 120 – 160 phone calls daily about wildlife concerns. After an enjoyable lunch with Gerda and her husband, Wayne, we toured the house and grounds. While its focus is on giving needy wildlife their best chance for survival, the organization also rescues and cares for other animals in dire circumstances. In the house, we saw rooms full of macaws, cockatoos and other exotic birds as well as several dogs and cats that are recovering from shocking abuse situations. Outside, there were Amish built quarters for rehab raccoons and opossums and a large pond for waterfowl. Most memorable for Bonnie was the visit to the "livestock yards.� As she picked her way through the muddy yard, trying to keep out of the way of a grumpy, elderly pot bellied pig while continually extracting her red coat from the mouth of a little brown goat named Honey, Bonnie felt a weight on her shoulder and something tickling her ear. It turned out that Miles the llama was walking immediately behind her with his head resting on her shoulder and his unruly white topknot flying in the breeze. It was an amusing end to a perfect visit.

The relatively quiet winter months are ideal times for us to take and give classes related to wildlife rehabilitation. The classes serve two purposes: to increase our wildlife rehabilitation knowledge and skills, and to provide the continuing education credits needed to maintain our state permits. Bonnie attended the Usui Reiki class that was taught by Julie Bolt, a Reiki III Master/Teacher and a Fauquier County wildlife rehabilitator. Usui Reiki is an ancient healing art that was developed in the Far East and is a stress reduction and relaxation technique that can be helpful both to humans and animals. Erika attended the Introduction to Reptile Rescue class, conducted by Carolyn Seitz, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and president of "Reptiles Alive�. Erika will conduct the Raccoon Care and Rehabilitation Class on March 18, 2006 for a small group of raccoon rehabbers who were unable to attend her class last May.

This month's True Story on the website ( is "Raising Raccoons�. It was written by Jenna Such, one of Erika's apprentices, and provides Jenna's experiences and observations in her first year as a raccoon rehabilitator. Jenna discusses the permit process and what she needed to do to be able to house and care for orphaned raccoons. She provides great insight on the challenges and rewards of raising the raccoon orphans that were entrusted to her care. Jenna's True Story is accompanied by several delightful photographs she took of her wild charges.

As we mentioned last month, we are currently in the qualifying process for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), a charitable donation program for federal government employees. Established in 1961, the CFC is the largest workplace charity campaign in the country and the only program authorized to solicit and collect contributions from federal employees in the workplace. The yearly charitable donation drive provides funds to a wide variety of non-profit local, national, and international organizations. Shannan Catalano, one of Erika's caregivers, researched how Wild Bunch could apply to participate in the CFC program. She spent many hours on this project and hand delivered the required forms and documents before the deadline. We will learn in the next few weeks if Wild Bunch will be included in the program. It would be wonderful news if Wild Bunch is accepted since it should provide us with some much needed additional funds to support wildlife and the Wild Bunch Refuge.

We want to thank everyone who continues to help our wild friends. We are grateful for the donations that make it possible to help so many animals. We could not manage the large scope of work we must accomplish without your help and support. Financial donations to the refuge can be mailed to Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation, 402 West Alexandria Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia 22302-4204. We hope you realize how deeply we rely on your support and how much we appreciate everything you do to help us out.