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Wildlife at home among Mesa Verde National Park’s ancient dwellings

A fox peers into a monitoring camera at the Spring House site in Mesa Verde National Park. (Courtesy Mesa Verde National Park)
Park cameras capture a variety of species in and around ancient dwellings

When the tourists leave the cliff houses at Mesa Verde National Park, wildlife will wander in for a photo shoot.

Cameras monitor the condition of ancient dwellings and watch for looting and trespassing humans.

But when wildlife show up and trigger the cameras, it’s a “highlight of the monitoring program – much better than seeing people illegally entering sites,” said Kay Barnett, a park archaeologist, in an email.

Here are a few favorites over the years. They include a black bear, bobcat, foxes and a ring-tailed cat, which is a member of the raccoon family.

Squeaks, a 2-year-old mountain lion living at the park since August 2020, is also featured on a game camera and appears to be doing well. He made headlines after a 558-mile journey from central New Mexico recorded on a GPS collar. The trek included swimming across Navajo Reservoir twice.