Wild Bunch Newsletter - February 2007
Wild Bunch wishes to give you a brief update on 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.
In the past month, the Refuge received 1 black vulture, 1 duck, 1 owl, 1 Canada goose and 1 Cooper's hawk. Erika received no animals in January. However, wildlife related calls have increased.
We have often mentioned that the Wild Bunch Wildlife Refuge consists of 83 acres but you may not know how the land is utilized. Approximately two acres is occupied by a modern rambler, which includes our intake center and serves as our wildlife center building, as well as several barns, outbuildings, various cages, and a large flight cage for raptors. Also in this area is the Old Homestead, as we call the property's original house that was occupied for many years before the modern rambler was built. Unfortunately, the Old Homestead is in dire need of repair and renovation. It is our goal to eventually have it restored and made livable so it can be used as a rustic place to spend a day or two at the refuge occasionally. That, however, is very low on the totem pole of priorities as there is always something animal-related that takes precedence. On both sides of the housing areas is farmland. We are very fortunate to have a mutually beneficial arrangement with a local farmer, Mr. Braden Scott. Mr. Scott cultivates these 18 acres, planting and harvesting corn one year and soybean the next. In return, we receive Mr. Scott's helpful advice and assistance when we request it. Adjacent to the farm area is a 3 acre wildflower meadow. A controlled burn of this meadow has been recommended by a local forester, John Magruder, as a way to renew the growth of wildlife friendly plants. This winter, plans have been made to take care of this before the spring when animals will be looking for the food and shelter that a wildlife meadow can provide. The rest of the property is extremely wild, overgrown, with many steep hills, ravines, streams, and delightful wetlands that beavers have created. It is in these forest areas that the raccoon and fox release cages and feeding stations can be found.
Several years ago, Mr. Scott, Dennis O'Connor, and Erika spent a day walking the property. They checked all the markers to determine exactly how far the property extends and where it borders on the 1800 acre Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge. This adventure took place in January on a very cold and brisk day. With most trees leafless and with most snakes, mosquitoes, and other bugs not out, January is the perfect time to conduct a thorough investigation of the property. The group discovered several small brooks and a larger creek with a waterfall. It is hard to describe what a fantastic nature paradise we have to release our wild friends. We hope to some day have a video made to make it possible for all of our friends and supporters to visit the refuge that way. In the meantime, you can see parts of the refuge by going to our website at www.wildbunchrehab.org and viewing the "Photo Album" section.
In January, we had an unexpected opportunity to test a product we had long been curious about. Over the years, Erika had heard of wound management through the use of sugar or honey. She read claims that honey has natural healing properties that can decrease wound healing time and pain associated with the treatment of wounds. In particular, Manuka Honey from New Zealand was reported to have the best healing qualities, and has been successfully used by several experienced wildlife rehabilitators. Some local health food stores carry this honey but Erika felt it would be best to order it directly from New Zealand. She learned that there are two types of double activity summer glow honeys: the regular honey and the superior sterilized double activity honey. The latter is not available in the U.S. Manuka Honey comes from the crisp white flower of the manuka bush, a native plant that grows only in a few remote unspoiled areas of New Zealand.
Some time ago, Erika ordered both honeys directly from New Zealand. Each rehab season, several animals will arrive with wounds that need treatment; however, we have been understandably reluctant to test the honey on our animals. Recently, when Erika received a few good bites from one of our furry friends, she decided to give the Manuka Honey a try. After the obligatory cleaning of the wounds, she covered the wounds with the sterilized Manuka Honey. We were very pleased when Erika reported that there was never any swelling or pain, the wounds stayed clean, no infection developed and that the wounds were almost completely healed in just a few days. Now, since it was more than satisfactorily tested, we are willing to start using it on our wild friends.
The True Story of the month on our website will be "Living With Beavers". Erika has said that one of the most exciting events since purchasing the 83 acre Wild Bunch Refuge property almost seven years ago, has to be the day she discovered a beaver colony. A few years ago, Erika ventured through the dense woods and bushes and swampy area walking along one of the streams and noticed a cone shaped tree stump. At first, she did not realize that it was the work of a beaver. Proceeding along the stream, she was thrilled to find one beaver lodge after another. Since that time, we have continued to explore this area of the refuge. As time goes on, we discover that the industrious beavers have expanded their territory and have built more dams and lodges along the stream. Unfortunately, so far we have not actually seen a beaver, although we have heard beavers' large paddle-shaped tails slapping the water to let us know that they are around and don't appreciate it when we disturb the area.
Wild Bunch gets quite a few calls about beavers that people want removed, trapped, or killed because they cut down trees or their dams flood the homeowner's property. This is a terrible problem because beavers cannot lawfully be relocated. In order to remove a beaver, a kill permit has to be issued by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Of course, there are ways to make the beavers leave without trapping them and we always do our best to talk people out of having them killed by offering alternate suggestions. Since the Wild Bunch property has several streams and is in a very remote and hard to negotiate area, we always knew that it would be a great place for beavers. Some people consider beavers to be a big problem but we at Wild Bunch welcome them and are grateful to be able to provide a safe and perfect environment for them.
Wild Bunch is currently in the process of re-applying for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). This is a yearly charitable donation drive for federal employees. CFC donations benefit a wide variety of local, national, and international non-profit organizations. Wild Bunch was admitted into the program in 2006, and we are hopeful that we will be receiving funds that we so desperately need to support the refuge.
We want to thank everyone who continues to help our wild friends. We are grateful for the donations that make it possible for us to help so many animals. We could not manage the large scope of work we must accomplish without your support. Financial donations can be mailed to Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation, 402 West Alexandria Avenue, Alexandria, Virginia 22302-4204. In addition, donations via PayPal can be made directly on our website. We hope you realize how deeply we rely on your support and how much we appreciate everything you do to help us out.