Ikes in Action: A Refuge for Wildlife

Virginia > The Loudoun County Chapter is located about 40 miles west of Washington, DC. Once renowned for the natural beauty of its rural landscapes, this area has become increasingly suburbanized. Our chapter’s 88 acres are now surrounded by housing developments. Wildlife habitat across the county is rapidly disappearing.

Due to our chapter’s unique location, our Conservation Committee thought it was imperative to catalog the animals that make the property their home. After purchasing three trail cameras, committee members looked for prime locations to view wildlife. We reasoned that if deer have paths through our woods, other animals would likely follow these trails, so that’s where we installed the trail cameras. Within two months, we collected videos and photos of deer, foxes, turkeys, raccoons, opossums, skunks, groundhogs, muskrats, and assorted birds and turtles. Using this footage, we created a wildlife presentation that was received enthusiastically by chapter members, many of whom had no idea the chapter grounds provided habitat for so many critters. (You can watch the video on Vimeo.

With the help of naturalists from nearby Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve and the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, we also initiated a series of monthly bird walks, each attended by about a dozen chapter members. So far we have identified more than 70 bird species on our property.

After presenting these preliminary results to the chapter, the Conservation Committee set goals to expand the scope of the wildlife survey and publicize the results outside the chapter. We will concentrate next on our 3.5-acre pond (including the elusive beaver who built a lodge there) and try to capture videos of the reptiles and amphibians that live in and around our wetlands. We will also attempt to document animal “families” – foxes with kits, deer with fawns, geese with goslings.

We hope the wildlife study will lead to a discussion of habitat requirements, the impacts of human activity, and how chapter members can best steward our land for these animals. It will help inform discussions of future construction on our chapter grounds. We also hope that it will enhance our members’ awareness of chapter amenities.
By Paul Kreingold, Conservation Director, Loudoun County Chapter