Indentifying and Protecting Wildlife Corridors

Bears and Cougars

It is important to talk about why wildlife matters because this puts hunting/trapping and otherwise killing wildlife in perspective. Not that hunting, etc. is wrong in itself, its that leaving out all the other voices – why wildlife matters to the rest of us – that is what is wrong. That wildlife has been comodified, politicized and montized is what is wrong.

So lets talk about what is right and just and good about being alive and being able to live with, rather than against, wild animals on the land.

Cougars bring a lot with them, to their place on the land – they put the coyotes, bobcats and foxes in their territory on alert.  It doesn’t mean that the cougar is going to kill them, but these “medium” predators are put on notice that they could be killed by the cougar.  This changes their behavior, alters their habits, and that change is felt all through the food web.  A cougar eats deer, and elk, and some big horn sheep, also rabbits, porcupines, and other small animals, but is sustained by the larger kills of deer and elk – less energy spent for more food. But these deer and elk are not the biggest, healthiest animals.  The cougar always wants advantage, never wants to get hurt. So the smaller, less fit, weaker, possibly sick or even dying animal is going to fit the bill for the cougar, or the bear for that matter, which can also scavenge carcasses from the cougar. So this is something we don’t want to do or can’t do, hunt the weak, sick, young or dying animals. The cougar does this for us, and in the process, makes the deer herd helthier, stronger and more watchful.

These are just the superficial things the cougar does right off the bat.  There is much more to these, and every other animal that we don’t even realize. The fit their role, their place in the land, tighter and more interconnected than any piece of a jigsaw puzzle we ever cut out (invented). The cougar’s skeleton has been honed and refined over thousands of years of living with, and being changed by its prey and the very land itself.  There is no cougar without all the other plants, animals, geology and even climate in which it has evolved.  No animal exists “on its own”, but is embedded in a web of relationships.

The NM Dept. of Game and Fish says they want to kill more cougars to increase the deer population, but which deer?  The elderly, hungry and lame?  Maybe we’ll get more deer, but will they be healthy deer, or will disease only increase in their ranks, reducing their numbers even further?

Bears, what do they do for us that we do not do for ourselves? Bears eat, spread seeds, and fertilize the ground. They clean up carrion and prey on deer fawns, regulating the deer numbers, and spurring more breeding.  Their place in the web of life is intertwined, that to remove them would bring the forest crashing in on itself. Bears are supported by dozens of plants, but the big 3 are Piñon Pine, Juniper, and Oak trees.  These are the main trees of NM, along with the Ponderosa Pine, which also have a relationship with bears.

“A farm without a tractor is like a forest without its bears” is simplistic and superficial, but its just the beginning of the importance of the bear in the woods.  Bears are omnivorous, so their relationships with plants and other animals is intimate and assertive, they “strongly interact” with other members of their community.  To say they leave a large “footprint” is literal as well as figurative. Their absence would leave “big shoes to fill”, and again, we as humans are not up to the task of all things bears do naturally in their daily lives.

These large mammals like bears and cougars are irreplaceable for so many reasons, but its good to think about what those reasons are, write a few of them down, and talk about why wildlife matters ~ what are your thoughts and feelings?







Supporting Wildlife

Supporting wildlife is like saying you support rain clouds in the desert. Yes, I support rain clouds coming over and giving us rainfall, I support water, and sunlight. I support green, green grass and clover. I support rivers full of water, skies full of sun and clouds and color, and I support the forest full of trees.  I support the wind blowing gently, especially the cool, wet breezes of summer. I support the snow burying  the mountains in winter.  Again, the water, yes I support that.  I support birds flying by, and birds landing and making nests. I support all the animals, and especially the ones that begin with the letter “B”.  Like Bats and Bears, Beavers and Bobcats, Bees and Butterflies.  I support the Moon and the Stars, the Planets too, and Sun in Sky and the light that reaches Earth. I support the fog that fills the valleys on a winter day, and pine needles that collect under the pine trees. I support holes and other burrows in the ground, and sound of rain on a metal roof. 

Wild lands

Wild land, what is it?

Is it pristine land, untouched by humans? Is its value derived from its pristine (untouched) state? Maybe this has been the most popular public notion of what wilderness is, but now we’re realizing the functionallity of wild land is so important for many reasons that affect us directly.  One reason, is that functional, wild land doesn’t cost us anything to maintain – it is this cost of maintaining our built environment that is the root of the word “sustainable”. So we are learning what costs are incured by removing components of wild lands, or by diminishing, altering, re-arranging, changing the percentages of components, or altering dynamic processes (floods, fires).

These components include animal life, plant life, soil life and geology, water (surface) saturation, rainfall, ground water, rivers (acequia, canal and dam systems), lakes, fire cycles, air quality (pollution by particulates, NOx, acid rain, elevated CO2), and other micobiotic and fungal relationships that we are as yet unaware of.  

Wilderness as a mental state has also been valued and is important, again, just knowing that there is a pure land, untouched and beautiful, a virgin – this mental state then releases our stress of seeing all the abused, degraded and “raped” lands all around us.  

Also as a place to physically go for recreation and relaxation, the stress releiving properties are used in this way too: backpacking, camping, day hiking and even motor touring through national parks and wilderness areas.  

Then there is the monetary value of fishing, hunting and outfitting/guiding that provides economy and livelihood for people as well.

But the cost of human landscapes, and lack of cost of wild ones, is something that is not usually recognized. This cost of the human landscape is actually considered part of the economy, and is planned for and included in the GDP.  However, it is not considered an unaffordable cost.

The price of doing business – it gets higher all the time, with every acre of wild land that is altered. The cost/benefit analysis, as we know, does not take into account the costs of: restoring nature, restoring natural balances (removing invasive species, controlling disease vectors, mental health care, pollution of: air, water, biota, soil, bacteria and fungus, and overpopulation of humans and under/overpopulation of biotic communities).  

We usually talk about human overpopulation, and wildlife extinction or underpopulation, but we don’t usually speak of or recognize animal and plant (and microbal) overpopulation. Some obvious ones: white-tailed deer, insects, etc., but almost all environments are full of overpopulated species, and again, invasives are obvious, but not so the natives in overpopulation, including forests and shrub lands. We just don’t see all the imbalance in nature, we call it “normal” or “natural” and thats the end of it.  I would like to see this change.

I would also like to see functioning “wild” lands respected for the cost saving, life giving places they are.  

I would like to see the true cost of doing business calculated. That being shown, “transparent” they call it, business as usual may not be done. That may violate the “Limited Liability” of the corporation.  Maybe we need a “Fully Liable” corporation, who would sign up for that?  Wether we sign up for it or not, it is the reality of living on Earth. Ultimately, we are all “fully liable” for how we live, for how we treat this gift of life.  

There has always been a cost of doing this business of living, the question is, can we any longer afford “the way of plunder”?


Read the post here:  I Am the Walrus: What 35,000 Walruses Tell Us About Our Future in Warming World

by Miyoko S. about the current state of Arctic sea ice, oil drilling in the Arctic, and the consequences for all of us walrus.

The article last Monday in the ABQ Journal confused the number of years this study has been going, giving this data more credit than it currently deserves.  This is the first year of the study in the Sandia Mts., while it has been going for three years in other mountain ranges of NM. The article stated that this the third year in the Sandias as well, but that just isn’t true.  I’ve been participating in this study, along with 9 other groups/agencies, and the data is just now coming in for our first year (2014).

This is important because for Game and Fish to increase the bear hunt in the Sandia Mts. based on one year’s worth of data is just wrong.

Read the Journal article here: Bear-kill boost upsets critics | Albuquerque Journal News.

Read the article from KCET here: California Bans Bobcat Trapping in 3-2 Vote. Bobcats are one of our “focal species” here at Pathways, because, even though they are a smaller, “mezzo-predator”, and don’t range as far and wide as our other focal species, we have included them because of the hunting/trapping pressure being put on them for the fur business.  Being “common” is no protection for an animal, as most of the animals now extirpated were once “common”. Humans have literally become the balance of nature over the past century (especially), deciding which animals will live, in how many numbers, and which are not worth our trouble; but we are still confounded by “invasive species” and those we consider pests. We’re trying to control this ship yet, and we must try, but I don’t think anyone can or really ever has.  Nature is a beautiful thing when she is in balance, and everyone has a chance to be who they are.  But now, we’re drowning in human beings, nature is something “out there” or far away, and we don’t even know what animals are really here for. So yea for California, but lets think about what a bobcat is, all of the other plants and animals that make it possible for this mid-size cat to be in the hills, and at last, where do we fit in?


Speak out against the proposed increase in killing Mountain Lions in New Mexico. Sign the petition here:STOP COUGAR TRAPPING.

Please sign by Sunday, August 16th!  Following the link above will take you to “”, where you can download a PDF of the petition to share.  

Thank you for signing and making your comments to protect the Mountain Lion from needless slaughter.  


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers