Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Dave Harper


The Hotline is a nonprofit service to help reunite lost and found pets.
Placing a Lost or Found in the Animal Hotline is a free service. You can include a photo if you have one available. For more information, call Dave at 867-6135. You may also email the Hotline at, but please call first.


Signpost cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert


DOG: Small-/medium-sized dog lost from Gutierrez Street in Bernalillo on July 4. Blonde, spayed female, answers to "Sable" or "Sabie." Medium/short hair with bushy tail. Nine or ten years old. #3352.


CAT: Orange-and-white tabby cat found about one mile north of the Village of Placitas on Camino de Las Huertas on June 29. Male. About one-and-a-half years old. #3346.

CAT: Black-and-white male cat found south of the Village of Placitas, just off Highway 165 on July 8. Not neutered. Very sweet, friendly cat. #3353.

CAT: Little black female cat with a black collar with a bell. Found in Northwest Placitas, La Mesa. #3359.

DOG: Border collie with white chest, brownish-black over ears, nub tail found about July 7 near the Placitas Post Office. #3354.

CAT: Black cat, small, very friendly, found July 22 just south of the Village of Placitas. Has a collar with moon and stars on it. #3357.

CAT: Calico/tabby cat found in Placitas West wearing a white flee collar. Found July 27. # 3360.


CAT: Siamese cat seen near the west end of Placitas Trails Road on June 29. #3345.


Animal News







Bosque's Pet Prints“Ruff! I’m picking up over

300 channels in HD.”


Mail your favorite pet photos,
along with a caption and photo credit to:
Signpost, P. O. Box 889,
Placitas, NM 87043 or
email digital photos to


Tired of those Juniper allergies? Call the Juniperator. 1-800-take-em out. Photo by Angie Cherry


Chloe enjoying one of her many daily naps. Photo by Gary Priester


Big s-t-r-e-t-c-h Sophie. Photo by Gary Priester


a popular pastime offering a boost to the economy

A new report that shows that one in every five Americans watches birds, and in doing so, birdwatchers contributed $36 million to the U.S. economy in recent years. It reports that forty-eight million Americans participate in birdwatching, a figure that has held steady at twenty percent since 1996.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service‘s just-released findings, “Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis,” identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are, and what kinds of birds they watch. What is considered a birder? The national survey, using a conservative definition, says that a birder is an individual who must have taken a trip one mile or more from home for the primary purpose of observing birds and/or closely observed or tried to identify birds around the home. It found that backyard birding or watching birds around the home is the most common form of bird-watching. Eighty-eight percent  of birders (forty-two million) watch in their backyards, with forty-two percent  of birders (twenty million) taking trips away from home to birdwatch.

The report is based on the most recent economic data available from 2006, and from the wildlife-watching section of the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. This comprehensive survey of wildlife recreation in the U.S. showed that in 2006 there were forty-eight million birdwatchers or birders, sixteen years of age or older in the United States. The average birder is fifty years old, with a better than average income and education, and is likely to be a white female living in the south.

However, these averages do not reflect the diverse populations who birdwatch in New Mexico and all across the nation, and the report spells out the variations in types of birders. The rate of participation of birdwatchers varied across the U.S. as well, with the highest rates in the northern half of the country, where the top five states include Montana, Maine, Vermont, Minnesota, and Iowa. In New Mexico, twenty-three percent of state residents consider themselves birders, and the state reaps the benefits of tourism which brings in more than forty-five percent of the state’s total birders from other states.

The economics of birding are compelling in a time when New Mexico is looking at how to develop a strong local economy. In 2006, nation-wide, birders spent an estimated $12 billion on trip expenditures, and added to equipment-related expenditures, birding generated over $82 billion in total industry output, 671,000 jobs and $11 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue. Birders spend money locally on a variety of goods and services including trip-related and equipment-related purchases. Lodging at a local inn, dining in restaurants, transportation, and other incidental expenses, added to the purchase of equipment from local vendors such as binoculars, cameras, camping equipment, and other costs brings funds which have ripple effects throughout the economy. The expenditures associated with birding can create a multiplier effect of these purchases reaching throughout the community, state, and nation and impact economic activity, employment, and household income.

Local birdwatcher and Audubon bird walk leader Suzanne Fahey notes, “Birdwatching opens a window to the outdoors. It helps you become aware of the trees, flowers, and other wildlife in a bird’s world. Birding makes you realize how each living thing is dependent on other plant and animal species and most importantly on a healthy environment.”

The Randall Davey Audubon Center hosts thousands of bird watchers each year locally, and helps visitors see and understand the birds and other wildlife in the Santa Fe area. Classes and bird walks are offered throughout the year, with free Saturday morning bird walks held at the Center at 8:30 a.m. Five Audubon chapters offer classes and field trips across the state to interested participants. Visit Audubon New Mexico’s website at for more information on how to become involved in birdwatching and local conservation issues in New Mexico.

Lesser Prairie ChickenThe Lesser Prairie Chicken is a bird that lives in short-grass prairies in eastern New Mexico. He is distinguishable by the males reddish-orange airsacks and  yellow eyecombs shown during the breeding season.

Conservation or cop-out?

Lack of participation could scuttle voluntary efforts

— April Reese, High Country News 

When you visit Chris Brininstool's sprawling ranch in southeastern New Mexico, the first thing you notice isn't her cows, or the endless prairie unfurling toward Texas -- it's the curious white tags along the fences. Brininstool began attaching the tags, which vaguely resemble oversized clothespins, to help lesser prairie chickens avoid fatal collisions with fence wires en route to breeding grounds.

About 60 miles to the north, Marbob Energy Corp. is also watching out for the social, dun-colored birds. The company has pledged to avoid drilling for oil and gas in prairie chicken habitat on lands it leases from the Bureau of Land Management, and it will pay into a fund for habitat improvement projects.

Both these forays into habitat management stem from a pair of voluntary conservation agreements, announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the BLM last December, that aim to bring the prairie chicken and its neighbor, the sand dune lizard, back from the brink.

Oil and gas development, grazing and herbicide spraying have shrunk both species' ranges by around 90 percent. Next year, the Fish and Wildlife Service will likely consider protecting the prairie chicken, which also inhabits Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas, under the Endangered Species Act. A proposal is already in the works for the sand dune lizard, which lives only in New Mexico and west Texas in the dunes of the Permian Basin.

A listing could restrict what landowners and companies can do on lands they own or lease. That's enough to nudge them toward conservation, says Benjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director for Fish and Wildlife. He sees the agreements as "sort of paying it forward. If we get good conservation measures on the ground, in a collaborative spirit, we're further along than we would have been without them."

"We hope to enroll enough participants so that when we sit down and look at the (federal) proposal, we don't have to list the species," adds Brian Millsap, Fish and Wildlife's New Mexico administrator.

Agency brass tout the New Mexico deals — the first of their kind to protect species across both public and private land -- as models that could be used for other species as well. But with the economy in a tailspin, and a similar effort in Texas already faltering, their success is far from assured.

The New Mexico agreements involve two kinds of deals: "Candidate conservation agreements with assurances," where private landowners who commit to conservation measures are assured they won't have to do more if a species is listed; and "candidate conservation agreements," which give ranchers and energy companies similar, if slightly weaker, guarantees that their public-land operations can continue regardless of listing. There are currently about 120 such agreements, mostly in the West.

Millsap says the agreements actually ask more than the Endangered Species Act does. If species are listed, he explains, landowners and federal lessees have to avoid harming them, but they don't have to improve their habitat.

Still, because the agreements are voluntary, they "don't provide firm legal footing for the species to bounce back," says Nicole Rosmarino of Santa Fe-based WildEarth Guardians. Indeed, some agreements that have been around for years -- including ones covering Colorado's Gunnison sage grouse and Montana's westslope cutthroat trout -- have drawn only one or two participants. And one covering Texas' lesser prairie chickens has yet to draw any.

Tuggle blames the Texas program's stagnation in part on a state policy that prevents federal land managers from accessing information about resources on private lands. "We have to sit down with ranchers or have a rancher sponsor a meeting, and I'll be honest — we're understaffed. That's really big country with lots of ranchers," he says. Consequently, wildlife managers "probably have not been as aggressive in helping landowners understand what we're trying to accomplish."

Millsap hopes the landscape-scale of the New Mexico program, combined with an energetic outreach effort, will produce better results. But so far, Brininstool and Marbob Energy are the only participants. Of five energy companies contacted by High Country News, only three had heard of the program. And Yates Petroleum, which has BLM leases in prairie chicken habitat, has put off deciding whether to participate due to the recent crash in oil and natural gas prices. The company has had to shut down wells in recent months, says Yates environmental coordinator Jerry Fanning, and is reluctant to spend money on new conservation efforts.

That kind of cautiousness could stymie the program, at least in the short term, worries Doug Burger, manager of BLM's Pecos District in southeastern New Mexico. "With the economic conditions that the oil companies are facing, they're all cutting back."

But Rand French of Marbob Energy says his company believes it makes sense to get ahead of the regulatory curve, despite the tough economy — or even because of it. "Time is money, and going through the endangered species consultation process can take up to a year," he says.

Tuggle is convinced that the looming shadow of the Endangered Species Act will spur more participants to become voluntary conservationists -- in New Mexico and beyond. "Regulations are funny. If I'm being regulated, I'm going to do the absolute minimum I have to do," he says. "But if I'm doing things to help a species, I will probably do more, because then I'm a steward, a partner. And that's the future of conservation."



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