December at the Borderlands Wildlife Preserve brings a sense of slowing down. The green foliage left over from the monsoon season has faded into a dusty brown and yellow and frost coats the ground in the quiet mornings. Bird song begins later each day as the sun rises slowly, shedding fading light as we approach the winter solstice. Many animals take this time of extended darkness to rest. Many of us here at Borderlands Restoration Network also take this time to pause work and reconnect with equally important causes like self-care and family.
It would be impossible to share all the exciting and beautiful wildlife images we captured using trail cameras over the past year, but to bring a close to 2022, we would like to share some of the best. In these images, you will see a coyote, white-tailed deer, hooded skunk, javelina, bobcat, western tanager, and even some human employees. All these creatures coexist in this same space experiencing induvial challenges and triumphs unbeknownst to each other. One thing they all do share is a mutual dependence on the natural resources surrounding them.
If you are lucky enough to create space this winter for reflection, please enjoy these pictures and take the time to think about what our world would be like without these creatures and these moments spent in shared wild spaces. A recent study released by the World Wildlife Federation shows that we have already experienced a loss of over 69% of monitored populations of vertebrates. This information makes the common sighting of javelina or coyote feel much more special. Sure, it's not a jaguar or an ocelot, but it's what we have left, and I believe it's worth every minute and penny spent fighting to protect.
What can you do to help wildlife this winter? Start small and move your way up as you can. Habitat conservation and restoration is a marathon, not a sprint. Leave dead leaves and plants on the ground and in the garden, and build a brush pile with branches and twigs. These natural materials create safe spaces for small creatures to find shelter and moisture during the winter.
Provide a source of water that won't freeze. Winter is often a dry time in our region, and the local wildlife will be happy to find water when it is provided. Lastly, take some time to reflect on how you can help wildlife. It might be as simple as sharing your love for nature with another person, planting native plants, or putting that spider outside instead of squishing it. At a minimum, that spider will surely appreciate it, and just like that, you have helped save a life otherwise lost to human behavior!