Caught Drinking at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge
|With a flap of its over-size wings, a red-tailed hawk flies off from an old cattle well at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico where a motion-triggered camera caught its photo|
|Two male pronghorn mix it up for a hidden camera near an old cattle well at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.|
Keeping a low profile is tough at Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. You can hardly drink a drop without someone noticing. That’s particularly true if you’re a wildlife creature and your drinking source is any of 20 former cattle wells now rigged with motion-sensor cameras.
In a little over a year since the cameras have been in use, they have captured more than a quarter-million images of many normally hard-to-spot well users.
Among these: pronghorn, mule deer, elk, golden eagles, great horned owls, red-tailed hawks, badgers, coyotes, gray foxes, bobcats, black bears and javelinas. Visitors can see the animal photos in the refuge visitor center off I-25 about 50 miles south of Albuquerque. "It’s exciting each time we download the data, because you never know what you might find," says Sevilleta Refuge wildlife biologist Jon Erz.
Wildlife refuge staff and volunteers monitor the water sources and cameras monthly. Refuge staff plans to study wildlife use of the wells for at least two more years to learn if the man-made structures are serving refuge goals.
The cameras are activated by motion detectors and capture color images during daylight and black and white images at night using an infrared flash. Images from the cameras have already helped refuge staff gauge the occupancy of species at various refuge locations, track animals’ daily activity patterns and assess the health of wildlife visiting the drinkers. In coming months, the refuge plans to add cameras at natural springs and seeps to complete the picture of water use on the refuge.
For more information on Sevilleta Refuge and its wildlife shots, visithttp://southwest.fws.gov/refuges/newmex/sevilleta/ or call 505-864-4021.