Unexpected Wildlife Refuge is a protected natural habitat comprising 767 acres of pristine pine lands, forest, fields, bogs, streams and lakes. It provides a refuge to animals and plants indigenous to southern New Jersey; a place where wildlife can live freely and naturally without fear of being harmed at the hands of human beings. We began as the home of Hope Sawyer Buyukmihci and Cavit Buyukmihci, who dedicated their land to habitat preservation so that native wildlife and habitat could thrive. We are a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) entity, federal ID 23-7025010.
Please review our visitor guidelines below. 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, a favorite of our founders, 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.
This is a wildlife refuge. We do not have captive animals nor do we utilize methods to mitigate wild animals, whether invertebrates (arachnids, such as chiggers, spiders and ticks, or insects, such as mosquitoes and wasps, and other species) or vertebrates, and any risks posed by these free-living animals are borne by you. In particular, the Refuge cannot in any way control or prevent you from being bitten, stung or otherwise harmed by free-living animals, including the contraction of any diseases transmitted by same. Further, walking through the land incurs further risks from tripping, falling, walking into or otherwise being harmed by inanimate structures and plants. Contact with plants such as, but not limited to, poison ivy may additionally cause contact dermatitis beyond the ability of the Refuge to control.
Almost all our trails are rugged and not accessible except on foot; no motorized or similar vehicles can be used for access. If this impacts on your situation, you will need to discuss this with the manager to see if alternate venues would be appropriate for you.
Groups should be relatively small, including one responsible adult. The main concern we have is that children are under control at all times so that they do not create problems (whether unintentional) for the wildlife.
Carpooling is a requirement to the extent feasible. This is not only because we have limited parking, but, more importantly, because of the negative impact cars have on the environment.
People should stay with their group so as not to get lost.
All visitors must stay on trails. There are many sensitive areas, special plants, nests and wetlands throughout the land. When you arrive, you can ask the manager to show you our sign that depicts the various trails so that you can take a photo on your phone to use. Alternately, you can download a copy of the sign here.
Food and beverages may be brought for a picnic, but must be vegan and containers should be recyclable.
No littering of any kind is permitted.
If you are visiting to help us patrol during hunting 'season', we will provide you with the latest copy of our rules for patrollers. Alternately, you can download the latest version here to use on your phones.
Cameras, sketch boards, sound recorders, video cameras or other recording devices that are not intrusive are welcome. All we ask is that you share the efforts of your experience with us.
Behavior that may frighten animals, such as roughhousing, making loud noises or attempting to touch or pick up animals, is not permitted.
Weapons are not permitted.
No climbing of trees is permitted.
No collecting of anything, such as antlers, feathers and so forth, is permitted. Those items belong to the wildlife.
No smoking or fires of any kind are permitted.
Our lavatory facilities are primarily through an outdoors toilet.
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.
Visitors must not be under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering drugs.