The 2012 Winter Tram season at Santa Ana National Wildlife Area ended with a whimper today. For months and months contractors have been raising the levee that protect the visitor center (and local farmers and farms) from Rio Grande floods. Today was the day they wanted to pave the road that crosses the levee--the road we drive the tram on. When we confirmed that they were coming today and that we couldn't drive across the levee, we printed out the weekly sales report and packed up and left. It has been a fun three months, giving tours of the refuge, and we have learned sooo much.
But, before we confirmed we would be leaving early, we did the early safety run. We drove to the cemetery, where we sprayed a couple of wasp's nests. Then we took the time for one last walk down the Jaguarundi Trail to the Rio Grande. As we drove down the next section of road, suddenly John said, "Look at that!" I did look and saw an animal with a face mask and long bushy tail with rings running off the road. There had been two of these animals when John first saw them.
We drove along, saying, "What was that?" A raccoon? No. It wasn't any animal we had ever seen before and certainly not one we talk about on our tram tours. When we returned to the visitor center, we started looking at our resource books. Then we asked other people if the animal we suspected had ever been seen here before? Yes, three years ago.
We can't say for sure, because we didn't get a photograph, but it may have been a white-nosed coati. This is photo I picked up on the internet.
You can go here to learn more about this animal--if that is what we saw.
It was a great way to end our three and a half months here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. We're off tomorrow, going (very slowly) North to Alaska.