Rio Mora Wildlife Refuge: A treasure from the old west


Rio Mora Wildlife Refuge, Watrous, New Mexico

Two weeks ago we sat on the rim rock above the  Mora Valley in northern New Mexico and listened to the  call of a raven, breathed in the scent of sun on pinion needles, and thought how lucky we were to be here, in this protected piece of land with no cars, no garbage, no amenities, no other humans. All that was missing was a glimpse of the resident herd of "buffalo" (American Bison). We knew the odds of our seeing them in this 42,000 plus acre Refuge, were pretty low, so we were happy with hiking about, checking out old stone outcroppings, trying to identify the birdsong.

And then, just as we were about to leave and explore the ghost town of Loma Parde, out from behind a big pinon below us walks a big bison, then another, and another, cows and calves and yearlings all stretched out like a string of ancient, furry, black pearls.

The herd of American Bison at the Rio Mora Wildlife Refuge near Watrous, New Mexico. We were sitting on a cliff above the valley, admiring the view and the old stone house, wondering if we would be lucky enough to see "the buffalo" some time during the day, and then they came in a long string out of the junipers and pinions. Some of the yearlings hopped about and head-butted each other.

Be sure and support your local National Wildlife Refuge. Without the open land, without contact with animals and birds, we will all be less human.