ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Where do black bears in the Sandia Mountains spend their time? That is the focus of a project that is capturing images of wildlife using motion sensor cameras.
“We’ve been placing trail cameras or camera traps in the Sandia Mountains,” said Oso Project coordinator Dylan Frentzel. “We have been looking at occurrences and how bears, in particular, use different areas on the mountain.”
The project is now in its second year and thanks to some funding from the BioPark Society, they have been able to increase the number of cameras around the Sandias from four to 24.
Frentzel says the project has put cameras deep inside the forest of the Sandias and cameras in places designated as wildland-urban interface areas where nature and people start to mix. They even put cameras at people’s homes in the lower parts of the mountain.
“I probably have more images and more occurrences of black bears on that wildland-urban interface than I do back in the wildland,” Frentzel said. “So I thought that was kind of an interesting thing to find out.”
This summer, Albuquerque residents had some close encounters with black bears. One made its way to Albuquerque’s westside.
Frenztle says he hopes the images help them better understand what life is like for bears in the Sandias.
“As we started looking at our cameras and our pictures we have a lot of bears in there, we’re getting lots of images and you would never know because you don’t see them,” he said.
The cameras have also captured other creatures. “So the neatest things we found is we got some pictures of a red fox last year,” Frentzel says. He is excited about the number of bears the cameras have captured, including moms with cubs.
“So it’s neat to see that bears are thriving and reproducing and really doing well up in the Sandias,” he said.
The Oso Project is a collaboration among people with the BioPark Society, NM Game and Fish, the city and county’s open space and Sandia Mountain groups.