If you find sick or injured wildlife...

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is not involved in wildlife rehabilitation. Instead, please go to this link to find a licensed rehabilitator to help you: www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/rehablst.htm.

South Jersey Trails T-shirts for Unexpected Wildlife Refuge

For a limited time...

For those of you who are hiking enthusiasts, South Jersey Trails are raising funds for our Refuge through the sale of their T-shirts. If you already have enough Refuge T-shirts and want something a bit different, while still supporting us, you can go to South Jersey Trails' fund raising site. Be aware that shirts must be pre-ordered before the end of January and take 1-2 weeks for shipment.

Great egret in main pond, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge began as the home of Cavit and Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci, who dedicated their land to habitat preservation so that native wildlife and habitat could thrive.

Mission statement

  1. To obtain and protect habitat in the New Jersey Pinelands area so that indigenous animals and plants can have an unexploited opportunity to live;
  2. To protect free living (wild) animals from hunting, trapping, fishing and other consumptive activities by people;
  3. To provide a "living classroom" for the public to study nature and appreciate the importance of wildlife and habitat protection; and
  4. To work with individuals and communities to peacefully resolve conflicts with wildlife.

Beaver cutting poplar, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Today we are a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, supported entirely by private donations. The Council of Trustees (Board of Directors) continues to maintain it as an inviolate sanctuary for wildlife and supports the promotion of humane education. The 85 acres purchased by the Buyukmihcis in 1961 have grown to 767 acres of swamps, bogs, forests and lakes – an extensive habitat for species indigenous to the Southern New Jersey Pinelands region. You can see an overview of the Refuge through Google Maps or our own aerial photographs: overview and main pond 'up close'.

Spicebush swallowtail butterfly larva, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge photo

Visitation by appointment only. To schedule a visit, call us at 856.697.3541 or send an E-mail message. Each adult visitor is required to sign a waiver of liability, which you can download here, prepare and either return to us via E-mail (preferred; we will then have it ready for you to sign on your arrival) or bring with you. We can only accommodate relatively small groups; let us know the anticipated number of people. We encourage people to bring their cameras, sketch boards, sound recorders, etc in order to capture the beauty of our fauna and flora in their natural habitat. All we ask is that you share the efforts of your experience with us.

In warmer weather, be prepared to be sought after by various arachnids and insects who will view you as an easy source of food. Dress appropriately in light-colored clothes (for ease of spotting ticks), tuck pants into socks, wear sturdy hiking or mud boots and bring environmentally friendly 'insect' repellent. Our guided tours can cover some of or all the ten miles of trails that wind through the Refuge property. Educational and reference materials are available to visitors at the Nature Center. Except for the trails, the land is left essentially undisturbed so that animals and plants can thrive based on habitat and food suitability dictated by nature. Bluebirds nest in the Refuge, some of whom winter over, feeding on cedar berries deep in the swamps. Beavers are much celebrated inhabitants, but usually only can be seen at dusk or dawn.

Support Unexpected Wildlife Refuge

Drawing of skunk, original artwork by co-founder Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci; click to enlarge

We need your help!

Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is supported entirely by private donations from individuals who have visited us or read about the Refuge. The generosity of our supporters will allow us to continue to protect this special habitat and educate the public about its importance. Refuge expenses include local taxes, insurance premiums, truck repairs and insurance, and equipment maintenance.

Please help us through a donation using our secure Web page, or by contacting us directly. We understand that people have to make choices between necessities and desires, and sometimes the organizations that depend on the good graces of supporters are eliminated from the household budget. Nevertheless, we hope you will consider the Refuge a priority; we need your support to continue. Any donation you can make will be placed into our general operating budget. We run this beautiful and unique wildlife refuge comprising 767 acres, on a minuscule annual budget of about $30,000. Compare that to other nonprofit organizations, and you will realize how frugal and careful we are with your contributions. We do not have bloated administrative salaries, retirement packages or health care options. Every penny you send goes directly into keeping this place safe and sound for the animals (and plants) who live here. Please make your tax-deductible gift to Unexpected Wildlife Refuge and help us continue with our mission to preserve, protect and educate – we cannot do it without your help!

Waiver of liability:

The Refuge requires that each adult visitor fill in, sign and submit a one-time liability waiver form in order to gain access. If children are involved, they can be listed on the form of the adult who is taking responsibility for them. This waiver is intended to educate visitors about the risks inherent in any wildlife refuge as well as providing protection for the Refuge.

Our hope is that you will, as a potential visitor, download, fill in, print (double-sided if possible in order to reduce paper use), sign and date the form so that you can bring it with you in order to expedite your visit and make our record-keeping easier. Alternately, you can fill in the form, save it and then E-mail the filled in form as an attachment to us at director@unexpectedwildliferefuge.org and we will have it printed and ready for you to sign and date upon your arrival.