The first documented black bear sighting on the refuge since its establishment in 1941 was in 2010. The black
bear was not only seen, but also photographed. Since then a few other black bears and other first time seen visitors to the refuge have been documented with the help of remote outdoor wildlife cameras. A young bull elk is one of these rare visitors viewed on the refuge.
About the NWRS
The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
Learn more about the NWRS
The refuge’s namesake, the San Andres Mountains, was named in honor of Saint Andrew the Apostle by early Spanish settlers at the tiny village of Las Padillas. The history of the San Andres Mountains is rich with legends of lost gold mines and outlaws. The area was occupied as early as 900 A.D. by Native Americans. Remnants of rock houses and mines throughout the range are evidence of heavy mining activity in the area during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The mountains are reported to have been the stomping grounds of Black Jack Ketchem and the Apache Chief Geronimo. Apache Chief Victorio also frequented the San Andres Mountains with his warriors, and fought several skirmishes with the United States Cavalry. One of the rock houses in the area is reported to have been used by the outlaw William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid.
In 1978, scabies was detected in the refuge’s desert bighorn population. The deadly disease spread rapidly and despite attempts to capture, treat and return healthy bighorn sheep to the San Andres Mountains, the population dwindled until only one lone ewe remained in 1997. The female wandered alone. The herd she grew up with had vanished. But in 1999, biologists released six rams captured from the Red Rock Wildlife Area of New Mexico. Follow the link below to learn more about what happened.
Page Photo Credits Gray fox in the snow / refuge remote camera, USFWS, All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Apr 17, 2014