Jen Harper: May 1988—April 2006
Watermelon Mountain Ranch breaks ground.
(Left to right) Deputy Chief Ken Guth, Lieutenant Greg Connors,
Larry Challenger, founder Sophia DiClemente, Molly, the dog—WMR
Watermelon Mountain Ranch begins construction of permanent
Watermelon Mountain Ranch held their groundbreaking ceremonies
on March 29, launching the start of Phase One construction
for their permanent facility. Included in Phase One of construction
will be a Canine Cottage, which will hold forty to fifty dogs;
a cattery, which will hold up to forty cats; an administration
building; and completion of a spay-and-neuter clinic. Future
construction will include additional cottages, catteries,
a therapeutic riding center, and a humane-education center.
To kick off the festivities, Commissioner Jack Thomas was
given the honor of digging the first bit of ground with a
gilded shovel. “Jack Thomas and Pattie Thomas are longtime
animal supporters who have made significant strides in the
community for animal welfare,” said Sophia DiClemente.
“The Canine Cottage will be named after them in their
Commissioner Jack Thomas and county officials generously
contributed $100,000 to the construction of the cottage, which
will house adoptable Sandoval County canines. This contribution
was part of a gift presented to Sandoval County by Intel.
Present at the well-attended event were Deputy Mayor Mike
Williams, Commissioner Donnie Leonard, numerous local officials,
The sharp-shinned hawk came in low over the ridge of the Sandia
Mountains and circled again and again and again. A dozen pairs
of eyes followed its every swoop and glide with intense satisfaction.
This Saturday scene is repeated daily for two months at
the southern gateway to the Sandias, as HawkWatch conducts
its annual spring migration count of raptors.
Devon Batley, field coordinator, explained the migration
count to the group, which included a UNM graduate sociology
class that was celebrating a day out of the classroom with
a bottle of wine.
She showed off a one-pound Cooper’s hawk, captured
and banded moments earlier. It was held in a tube, where it
lay quiescent, then was extracted to show off for the crowd.
Tossed into the air, it flew merrily on its way.
The HawkWatch spectacle lasts seven days a week until May
5, and the public is always invited.
Since early February, volunteers have tabulated 2,193 raptors,
including 311 Cooper’s hawks, 166 sharp-shins, and 287
This is just past the midpoint of the observation season,
when the migration is close to its peak. “The total
is pretty close to normal,” Batley said.
Last year, the volunteers tabulated 3,085 raptors, including
turkey vultures, ospreys, bald and golden eagles, northern
harriers, northern goshawks, Swainson’s hawks, red-tailed
hawks, American kestrels, merlins, and peregrine falcons.
This is HawkWatch’s twenty-second year in the area.
In addition to the spring season in the Sandias, it conducts
fall observations near Capilla Peak, in the Manzano Mountains.
To get to the Sandia site, take Route 66 through Tijeras
Canyon, go north at the small brown hiking sign through the
Monticello subdivision, follow signs and park where the dirt
road ends. The trail goes north for a short distance, then
the HawkWatch path splits off to the right and climbs the
ridge to the east. (The main trail straight ahead continues
on to Three Gun Spring.) The climb is fairly steep but not
difficult and takes about fifty minutes. Coming down, you
can run all the way in fifteen minutes.
For more information, call 255-7622.
This article was reprinted with permission
from The Independent, the home newspaper for the East Mountains
and Estancia Valley since 1999.
Jaguar from protected area in Mexico photographed
in New Mexico
In April, the Albuquerque BioPark’s Rio Grande Zoo
presented a special lecture, “Jaguar Conservation.”
Coinciding with Earth Day, this lecture highlighted a jaguar
that was photographed near Animas, New Mexico, along with
the latest efforts in protecting jaguar habitat in northern
The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest cat in the Western
Hemisphere. In North America, it is also one of the most endangered
The Northern Jaguar Project and Naturalia are two conservation
organizations working to protect the northernmost population
of jaguars in the world. In the last one hundred years, the
range of the jaguar has been reduced by over 50 percent and
almost completely removed from the United States. The two
organizations have launched a project to protect the largest
area of non-fragmented jaguar habitat in northern Mexico.
It is their belief that protecting this northern population
is the first step toward restoring jaguars back in the American
Southwest. In addition to protecting jaguar habitat, the conservation
strategy includes environmental education, research and monitoring
of large cat populations, and developing new ranching techniques.
Once found in the southern United States, jaguars are now
only rarely seen in the extreme southern regions of Arizona
and New Mexico. In February of 2006, a jaguar was photographed
near Animas, New Mexico. This was only the second jaguar to
be photographed in the state in the past ten years. It is
believed that the jaguars seen in the United States are traveling
north from the same region being protected by the Northern
Jaguar Project and Naturalia.
For further information, call the City of Albuquerque’s
BioPark Education, at 764-6245. The Albuquerque Biological
Park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium
as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated
to providing excellent care for animals, and a better future
for all living things. With more than two hundred accredited
members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and
your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For
more information, visit www.aza.org.