Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Unexpected Caution

We have been monitoring sites within the Cienega Preserve since 2001 and the only ‘caution’ we have had to consider is coming upon illegal aliens or falling off a cliff!

Things have changed!

In early summer one of our sites had a very big prickly pear cactus torn-ripped to shreds!

Next to it was bear scat.

We identified the scat by a book with pictures and drawings of animal paw prints and scat.

Yep! It was bear(ursus americanus).

We were very excited, as bear has never been reported in the Preserve, at least to our knowledge.

This past Friday we were on a high ridge site on the south side of the Creek and there were 3 huge areas of bear scat.

No plants had been damaged but we think there had been several bears on site.

Also they had been there for quite sometime probably just hanging out.

Of course, I mentioned this in the report to the Land Manager.

The county biologist/ranger sent me a picture of a bear he had spotted recently in the Preserve!

In the picture the bear is walking casually down the dry Creek bed!

Often,this is our very means of traversing to sites!

It is a very handsome, big black bear usually seen up in the mountains to the north of the Preserve.

The biologist says, “It seems as though resources are lower in the mountains this year. Game and fish have been getting more calls this year about bears all over southeast Arizona. Plus they love prickly pear and there was quite a bit this year.”

So there we have it!

We add another ‘caution’ to our weekly treks!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Archaeological Site Steward monitoring has some interesting turns!

Last week Fran spotted a desert tortoise (Gopherus morafkai) under a rocky over-hang on the trail.

I managed to get flat down on my belly and took a picture of the tortoise with a size scale next to it.

I attached the picture to my site report to the land manager (LM).

Yesterday, the LM said a biologist, who is primarily interested in Leopard frogs, was all excited, as he had just seen a desert tortoise upon leaving the Davidson canyon area of the Cienega Preserve.

The LM emailed him the picture I sent of ‘our’ tortoise.

Now the biologist really got excited.

He emailed LM saying he is sure it is the same one he saw - 1/2 mile away!

Our two tortoises match up in size and ‘ding’ in left rear carapace!

He plans to do time travel study etc.

As the LM said “all those scientific things that we dirt archaeologist don’t do!”

To follow up I sent a reminder photo to the LM of a tortoise we saw in 2011- about ½ mile west of the present sighting.

Good heavens!

What if it is the same fellow?

I would say, “That tortoise sure travels around!”