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New Mexico Science

Science, climate, weather and water from a New Mexico perspective

Shutdown a setback for Bosque del Apache birds

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sandhill cranes, bosque del apache, October 2012

Marla Brose/Journal – sandhill cranes, bosque del apache, October 2012

The Bosque del Apache, the iconic bird refuge run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along the Rio Grande south of Socorro, is closed because of the partial federal government shutdown. But the birds don’t know that, which could be a problem. From Leigh Ann Vradenburg at the Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge:

Early October is the critical time in which refuge staff prepares wetlands for the winter. Wetlands are typically dry at this time and are being disced, plowed, or mowed to optimize feeding conditions before they are flooded in late October.

When the government shut down on October 1, over 95% of the refuge habitat was not ready for the birds. Over the past few years these wetlands have become critical for one iconic Bosque del Apache Refuge species, the greater sandhill crane. These birds have experienced successive years of poor reproduction and their population is in decline. Proper wintering habitat is critical for survival and reproductive success.

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