Living with wildlife
This is a good year for rabbits and mice, a good year for
coyotes, owls, hawks, and snakes. In general, this is a good
year for wildlife. And sometimes that means trouble for homeowners.
Poison is not the answer. Let's include
sticky traps as well—they are a slow, inhumane way of
killing animals. We have alternatives in today's age of technology
to controlling unwanted rodents, that include live and electronic
Lost rodents like tight, enclosed, dark
places. If vehicles are going to be parked for a couple of
days or weeks, keep the hood open a few inches. In the wintertime,
many people put mousetraps under the hood of their cars and
end up killing birds instead of mice. If you feel the need
to use a trap, products like the Rat Zapper are easily used
in small places like cars. The Rat Zapper works with batteries
and has to be baited so that the mice walk into the enclosed
trap. This will help ensure the safety of rabbits and birds,
and these traps can be placed almost anywhere.
Live traps and house cats are two other
wonderful options, but unfortunately, they have drawbacks.
Once trapped, live animals need to be transported many miles
away, and not released around someone else's home. Outside
cats have a very hard time surviving the owls and coyotes
that live here.
Keeping the area around your home clean
and picked up is the key. Keeping woodpiles off the porch,
and low-lying landscape cut up, off the ground and away from
your home will help a lot. Try to keep your garage door closed
and use aluminum foil to plug any holes to keep rodents out.
One of the best things you can do for
the animals is put out fresh water in summer and winter. Keep
the water dish clean (change at least once a week or so),
and move it so that little things do not make their home under
it. To clean water dishes, just dump out the water, scrub
them clean and let them dry in the hot summer sun. This should
kill anything that might contaminate the dish. In wintertime,
use a little Clorox to clean the water dish and let it dry.
Put a large rock into the water so birds or animals can stand
on it, or if anything falls in the water, it can get out.
You can enjoy the wildlife without feeding
it. Just remember that living in rural areas has both its
beauty and its drawbacks.
Linda Perrini is a wildlife rehabilitator
who lives in Placitas.
Botulism kills ducks in Rio Rancho
—NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF GAME AND FISH
Two ducks found dead in a lake at the Chamisa Hills Golf Course
in Rio Rancho in June died of botulism poisoning, according
to tests released by the New Mexico Department of Game and
Fish and Veterinary Diagnostic Services laboratory in Albuquerque.
The Department of Game and Fish requested the tests June
29 after area residents delivered the dead birds to the Department’s
Albuquerque office. Earlier tests were negative for strychnine
poisoning and avian influenza.
Kerry Mower, wildlife disease specialist for the Department
of Game and Fish, described the botulism outbreak as a natural
occurrence possibly fueled by warm weather, recent heavy rains,
and decaying organic matter in the lake sediment. High water
temperatures can cause oxygen levels to drop, and low oxygen
contributes to botulism bacteria growth. The amount of bacteria
increases when lake sediment is stirred up by heavy runoff,
and the conditions worsen as more organisms die in the lake,
“Once it gets started, it sort of feeds on itself,”
Mower added. “The maggots on the dead ducks also pick
up and concentrate the botulism toxin, and other ducks and
birds that eat the maggots become poisoned. The best thing
to do is to clean up all the dead ducks and wait for cooler
weather and the sediment to settle.” State agencies
also have asked Chamisa Hills Golf Club to better aerate the
State epidemiologist Dr. Paul Ettestad said the botulism
poisoning found in the ducks at Chamisa Hills should pose
no threat to humans or their pets. “This is different
than the type of botulism poisoning people get from canned
food,” he said. “But just to be on the safe side,
it’s a good idea to keep yourself and your pets away
from the water and the dead ducks.”
Residents are urged to not touch or move any sick, dead,
or healthy ducks or other waterfowl from the immediate area.
They should instead call Animal Control in Rio Rancho, at
891-7237, for proper isolation or disposal. Residents many
also contact Chamisa Hills Golf Course directly, at 896-5000,
or New Mexico Game and Fish, at 222-4700.
Cattle-killing Mexican wolf shot dead; three
more wolves to be released in NM
—DAN WILLIAMS, NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF GAME
A Mexican wolf that was involved in at least three livestock
killings in the past year was shot and killed May 28 by a
member of the wolf-recovery team. A permanent removal order
for the lone male wolf was issued May 24 by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service after the wolf was confirmed to have
killed a cow in southeastern Catron County, New Mexico.
In the past two weeks, nine Mexican wolves have died during
removal efforts resulting from livestock depredations. May
24, the Fish and Wildlife Service reported that seven wolves—an
adult female and six very young pups—removed from the
Fort Apache Indian Reservation, in Arizona, died after they
were trapped and moved to holding pens. The alpha-male wolf
of that pack was shot and killed.
Wolves in the recovery program are designated as a “nonessential
experimental population,” which allows the recovery
team greater flexibility to manage the wolves under the provisions
of the Endangered Species Act. The designation permits permanent
removal of a wolf, either by capture or lethal means, following
three confirmed livestock deaths.
“We continue to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service
to prepare federal rule changes that will promote more effective
recovery areas and diminish the likelihood of problem wolves
in New Mexico,” Department of Game and Fish director
Bruce Thompson said.
The rules of the wolf-restoration program prevent direct
releases of wolves into New Mexico that have not been previously
captured for management purposes.
The recovery team also announced that three Mexican wolves—an
adult male and two female yearlings—will be released
in early June in the Gila Wilderness. The male wolf was captured
and removed from the wild in 2005 after it was involved in
a livestock death. The females were removed from the wild
in 2005 as a result of cattle depredations by the adults within
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now estimates there are
thirty-two to forty-six endangered Mexican wolves living in
the wild in Arizona and New Mexico since the reintroduction
program began in 1998. To view the wolf distribution map,
which contains the most recent three months of wolf locations
taken from aerial surveys, visit the Arizona Game and Fish
Web site, at www.azgfd.gov/wolf,
and scroll to the Distribution link on the Mexican Wolf Conservation
and Management page.
For more information, visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us
or call 505-476-8000.