El Paso Zoo Wildlife Amphitheater “Bears of Big Bend” lecture, September 24

It’s not everyday that you have the opportunity to meet someone like Raymond Skiles. Recently retired from the National Park Service at Big Bend National Park, Skiles will be in town this coming Tuesday night September 24 to help the El Paso Sierra Club kick off its 2019-2020 Kevin von Finger Speakers Series at the El Paso Zoo Wildlife Amphitheater.

Skiles grew up in Langtry, Texas and recently retired from the National Park Service after over thirty years of service.   While working as the park’s wildlife biologist, Skiles was at the forefront of proactive management, instituting programs to make Big Bend an exemplary “bear park.”

The illustrated lecture at 7:00 PM will be free and open to the public and will feature the story of how Mexican black bears successfully returned to the mountains of Big Bend National Park during the 1980s. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife a combination of unregulated hunting and a loss of habitat caused bears to virtually disappear from Texas by the mid-1940s. Today the population in Big Bend National Park was established after bears from Mexico made their way across the border in the 1980.

The natural recolonization of the black bear to Big Bend National Park from the cross border population in northern Mexico is one of the most important conservation stories in Texas.