Saturday, January 09, 2010

New Mexico wildlife refuge to take part in cougar study

Refuge to take part in mountain lion study

Written by Submitted to El Defensor Chieftain
Saturday, 09 January 2010 06:00

Beginning Monday, Jan. 11, the portion of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge that lies east of the Rio Grande will be closed to the public in order to initiate a mountain lion study.

The closure, which may last up to 90 days, will have some impact on public use on the refuge. Due to the remote nature of this portion of the refuge, which can be accessed only on foot, the impact to the public is expected to be minimal. The only members of the public that may be affected are occasional hikers and orxy hunters, who possess off-range permits for the months of January and February.

The refuge is working with its conservation partners to implement a mountain lion study in the east boundary of the refuge, which will include setting out various remote sensing equipment in order to observe mountain lion activity in the area. Capturing and collaring is another technique that will be used in this study.

"Protecting wildlife on the refuge is our mission," said Tom Melanson, manager of Bosque del Apache NWR. "In order to understand the natural habitats of these large cats, we first need to study them, and that is what this particular effort intends to accomplish."

The east boundary closure includes all refuge lands east of the Rio Grande, including the Little San Pascual Wilderness Area. Public access will be closed beginning Monday, Jan. 11, until further notice. Depending on the initial results of the study, the closure may be in effect until Monday, March 15.

For more information on the expected closure, contact refuge headquarters at 575-835-1828.


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