Raccoon This rehabbed raccoon was released on a TNC preserve. © TNC

Stories in New Jersey

Wildlife Rehabilitation and TNC Nature Preserves

In New Jersey, TNC preserves offer orphaned and injured animals a new lease on life.

It’s a story that is truly warm and fuzzy: The Nature Conservancy and Woodlands Wildlife Refuge have teamed up to give rehabilitated native animals in New Jersey a new lease on life. 

Raccoon Release Follow the journey of four orphaned baby raccoons from rehabilitation to release in the wild.

Woodlands Wildlife Refuge, located in Alexandria Township, began in 1986 with the care of two orphaned raccoons. Woodlands was founded and is directed by Tracy Leaver, a New Jersey state licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

When they are old enough or fully healed, the animals need to be released back into the wild, and that’s where The Nature Conservancy comes in. 

For more than 60 years, TNC has been protecting lands and waters in New Jersey. Our network of nature preserves throughout the state provide much-needed habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. 

“Our preserves offer quality habitat,” says Eric Olsen, Director of Land for TNC in New Jersey. “Often the sites are away from roads and development, and provide  the right forest, field and water resources to give wildlife the best chance for survival.”

Wildlife Release: Skunk The Nature Conservancy and Woodlands Wildlife Refuge have teamed up to give rehabilitated native animals in New Jersey a new lease on life.

Protecting Land and Water

We use science to identify the most critical lands to protect for people, wildlife and resilience to climate change. To date, TNC has protected over 60,000 acres of critical natural lands in New Jersey. Healthy, connected lands are crucial to wildlife more than ever as they struggle with habitat loss and forest fragmentation. 

In Northwestern New Jersey, we are focused on protecting land in Bobcat Alley, a 32,000-acre corridor linking the Highlands to the Appalachians that provides vital habitat for species like endangered bobcats and other wildlife who need room to roam. The habitat corridor is anchored by two TNC preserves, Johnsonburg Swamp to the east and Blair Creek to the west. Both offer beautiful scenery, fresh air and are open to the public. Enjoy varied hike opportunities, and an up-close look at quintessential New Jersey landscapes that our wildlife rely on. 


Bobcat Release This orphaned bobcat was released into preserved habitat in Bobcat Alley, a conservation priority for TNC. Connected forests and fields in our heavily trafficked state are critical for bobcats and other wildlife.

A Place to Call Home

Since rehabilitated critters need to return to their natural habitat at a location near where they were originally found, not all of Woodlands’ patients head for TNC land. But having the habitat available for locals is extremely helpful.

“The partnership with TNC has considerably expanded our network of release site options,” says Leaver. “This can be especially beneficial when we set free animals that have to establish their territory. It gives them a bit more breathing space.”

For TNC, the relationship aligns perfectly. “At its most basic level, this is what conservation is about,” says Olsen. “We protect the lands and waters on which all life depends, and that includes skunks!”