Mountain Mail reports
Several isolated areas within Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge are closed to the public due to mountain lion activity.
In January, 2010, the Refuge and conservation partners initiated a mountain lion study in the east boundary of the Refuge. The study included setting remote sensing equipment to observe mountain lion activity in the area, and collaring of mountain lions on the Refuge. Study efforts to date have resulted in the successful radio collaring of four mountain lions. Juvenile mountain lions have also been observed.
The closure, which is expected to last through April 2011, will impact some public uses on the Refuge.
“We regret that this closure will affect some individuals,” said Tom Melanson, Manager of Bosque del Apache, “but we must balance public safety with our mission to protect and enhance wildlife and habitat. The increase in mountain lion activity warrants this temporary precautionary closure until we have a clearer picture of lions use of the Refuge and then make recommendations in policy regarding these large predators.”
The areas closed will include the Rio Viejo Hiking Trail, the Education Campgrounds, and all refuge-owned lands east of the Low Flow Conveyance, including the Low Flow Channel Service Road, the Rio Grande, and the Little San Pascual Wilderness Area.
Not affected by this closure include the Refuge’s 12-mile scenic Wildlife Auto Tour Loop, all observation decks, all other hiking trails, all observation pullouts, and the Chupadera and Indian Well Wilderness Areas. This closure will not affect any activities associated with the annual Festival of the Cranes, November 16-21.