Indentifying and Protecting Wildlife Corridors

Archive for the ‘citizen science’ Category

Bear food survey 2017

Pathways Mast Surveys Summary 2017

This year Pathways volunteers conducted 8 mast surveys between May 6th and Sept. 23rd, 2017. We surveyed areas mainly on the north end of Sandia Mt. in cooperation with the Sandia Mt. Bear Collaborative, who were conducting mast survey across the rest of Sandia Mountain. Pathways mast survey volunteers included team leaders Peter Callen and Stephanie Long and survey team members Ross Phillips, Mark Bundy, Cameron Weber, Ian Daitz, Elaine Sullivan, Renee Robillard, Jean Roberts, Michael Scialdone, and Cathy Langfelt.
This year we included gathering bear scat for a dietary analysis, but no bear scat was found by our Pathways teams.

The main mast species of Piñon Pine, One-Seed Juniper, and Gambel’s Oak had Juniper berries as the most successful crop this year, with moderate to poor acorn production, and a mast failure of Piñon nuts. These surveys covered the north end of Sandia Mt. from the Piedra Lisa trail to Del Agua Cyn., the Agua Sarca trail from Tunnel Sprgs. up to 7,800’ elevation, Las Huertas Cyn. from Placitas up to the U.S.F.S. picnic area, Palomas Peak trail, Faulty trail from the Sandia Man Cave up 3 miles, and several areas off of Hwy. 165 at higher elevations including Media Cyn., Balsam Glade, and then up the Crest highway to Ellis trail at 10,000’+ elevation.
Dozens of miles of trails were walked while we observed trees and plants along the trails, as well as surveying piñon cone and juniper berry production from a distance with binoculars. Hundreds to thousands of trees and other plants would be closely observed on each of the surveys.

Gamble’s Oak had poor to moderate acorn production, the best areas being near Las Huertas Creek and springs along the Piedra Lisa trail. Wavy leaf oaks had moderate production in the lower elevations (~6,000’+) of Piedra Lisa trail and Las Huertas Cyn.
Piñon Pine trees did not produce new cones this year, and the small cones for next year mostly dried up and died in the hot, dry months of June and July. August was our only real month of moisture and cooler temps., and that helped the One-Seed Juniper production. The Juniper berries started out abundant again this year, especially at the lower (~6,000’) elev., but the summer drought kept them small and thinned out overall production from abundant down to moderate. The rains of August helped plump up and save the Juniper berry crop. September was unusually dry for almost the whole month, but then the last 4 days brought heavy rain. By this time of the year though it was almost too late to actually have an effect other than prolong what was left of the harvest and bring back a little green up of the mature grasses and forbs.

Other soft mast species had very mixed results, with fairly poor to moderate Chokecherry and Oregon Grape production; moderate and fairly good bear corn production; a moderate to good grass and forb production at higher elev. (7,500’ +); and abundant Prickly Pear Cactus production at lower elev. (~6,000’). Banana Yucca was poor however, as were the Currants, Gooseberries and Snowberries. Lower elev. fruit orchards had mixed success as well, with some areas having poor apple and peach production, while other areas had a moderate fruit crop.

So overall it wasn’t a great year for bear foods on Sandia Mt., and bears did come down into the human habitation zone starting in August and continued to raid bird feeders, trash cans and fruit orchards throughout September. The Juniper berry and Cactus fruit were the most abundant mast, with some patches of moderate acorn and bear corn production. Grass and forb production was good at higher elevations, but Fir tree mortality was high in Las Huertas Cyn. and some eastern side canyons. A huge explosion of Tussock Moth caterpillars were everywhere on the dying Fir trees from July into September.

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2017 Bear Fair, Sept. 24th

Welcome to another “Bear Fair” sponsored by the Sandia Mt. Bear Collaborative. Starts at 1 PM.Black Bear
Prizes! Fun for the whole family! See you there!

See the PDF version of the flyer here:  finalBear Fair Flyer 2017

NM wounds: Eco, Bio, and Cultural

When doing monitoring or restoration work in NM it is helpful, necessary even, to recognize the impacts or wounds to the land, the plants and animals and the native people. These wounds are multiple, interact with one another, and sometimes are deeply buried, hidden from view.

Here are some of the more general ones: NM Wounds- impacts   compared with a time before the “Anthropocene”, along with some commentary on the importance of keeping an open mind to the possibility of seeing more ~ history, and potential for the future.

Wildlife “Track and Sign Identification” course with Casey McFarland

We organized another wildlife track and sign identification course with renown wildlife specialist Casey McFarland on April 9th and 10th.  He will be in the area this summer and would like to do more courses, so get on our wait list and I’ll keep you posted.

Here is some feedback from a couple of the latest participants:

From Michael Cox ~ The weekend was terrific!  Casey taught me a new way of looking at the natural world.  It was like suddenly realizing that you’ve been living in the dark and having the light turned on.  It was intimidating and challenging but I’d do it again next weekend if I could, and I hope that Casey does another session sometime soon.

I am interested in your project, but I should tel you that I only received a 68 in the course, and reached some astoundingly stupid conclusions, so I’m not sure how much help I could be. So please alert me when you go out next time.

PS- Thanks for the heads up on the course, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

and from Sarah and Matt Fontaine ~Hi Peter,

Matt and I both thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, and got so much out of it!  I have been looking at tracks, and books of tracks, for a while… it was so satisfying to have someone with extensive knowledge to give hard facts to what had previously been questionable deduction.  And Casey showed us animal sign that I would have walked right past, not knowing what to look for.  We also appreciate the style of teaching: having us try to figure out what a track/sign is using whatever knowledge and common sense we have, before just telling us.  That really gets one looking around, analyzing the surroundings, asking questions like ‘who would live here?’ or ‘what size animal would make that scat?’

We are interested in volunteering for the Pathways monitoring program, do keep us posted!

Sandia Bear hair study mis-reported by Journal

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.

Trek West trailer on Vimeo

Jaguar in northern Mexico

Jaguar in northern Mexico


Wildlife advocate John Davis trekked from Mexico to Canada along the “Spine of the Continent” to bring attention to the need for wildlife corridors.
Watch a trailer from the Trek West film by film maker Ed George here:

Trek West trailer on Vimeo on Vimeo

via Trek West trailer on Vimeo.

Animal Tracks on iNaturalist

A good description (much better than mine) of how to post a wildlife observation to iNaturalist, by Jonah Evans, on his “Nature Tracking” site:

Animal Tracks on iNaturalist.

Animal tracking data