Rangers at Capulin Volcano National Monument have spotted several new species in the park. Although they’ve long known that big game species existed in the surrounding high plains area, they had little proof that they wandered through or lived on Capulin.
Beginning in January, though, rangers found evidence of a cougar living on the volcano. A park employee working in the field stumbled upon the cougar’s kill site. He returned with a game camera, capturing more than 100photos of the cat. The cougar would later be sighted by visitors as well.
If that wasn’t excitement enough, two more species made appearances during the summer months. Like cougar, black bears are routinely present in the areas surrounding the volcano, and, on occasion, a bear can be spotted in the monument. In the month of June, however, a juvenile black bear took up residence in the crater of the volcano, treating visitors and rangers alike with some up close views via a spotting scope and binoculars.
The most exciting wildlife encounter came in July as the monsoon season began. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, which are found along the Oklahoma-New Mexico border, suddenly made an appearance on the volcano. Initially, two ewes (female sheep) were sighted by visitors. A ram (male sheep) was sighted more recently. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has been equally enthusiastic about this sighting, as it shows dispersion of a species they have long been trying to restore to northeastern New Mexico.