The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


Dave Harper (right) and friendAnimal Hotline is a nonprofit service to help reunite lost and found pets with their people.
P. O. Box 100, Placitas, NM 87043

If you find or lose an animal in Placitas or the surrounding area, call Dave Harper at the Animal Hotline. Placing a lost or found notice in the Hotline is a free service.



CAT: Tortoise shell, female cat lost from Windmill Trail (about three miles north of the Village of Placitas at Camino de las Huertas) on November 8th. “Kitty” is kind of chubby. #3109

RAVEN: Black, lost from Las Huertas Road in Ranchos de Placitas, on November 24. Education bird with Wildlife Rescue. Leather strap around each leg. “Poe.” #3118.


CAT: Orange tabby with white chest found in Sundance Mesa subdivision (northwest Placitas area). Found November 14th. #3113

CAT: Black-and-white medium-haired male cat found north of the Village of Placitas on November 20th. Found on Camino de las Huertas at the mailboxes just north of the creek. Has black lower lip. About three months old. #3115


2 KITTENS: 2 male kittens, about three months old. One is gray; the other is smoky (blackish gray). #3111 & 3112


Animal News

River otter

A river otter

River otters will return in 2008

A native New Mexican, once found in streams and rivers throughout the state, will have to wait one more year before returning to New Mexico’s rivers. This fall, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the New Mexico Friends of River Otters—a coalition of citizens, agencies, and conservation organizations dedicated to restoring otters to the state—had been working with the state of Oregon to obtain otters for release in New Mexico. Unfortunately, efforts to trap otters in Oregon were unsuccessful, and the reintroduction has been postponed until next year.

River otters are highly social, playful, semi-aquatic members of the weasel family. They are believed to have once inhabited the Gila, upper and middle Rio Grande, Mora, San Juan, and Canadian river systems and occasionally were mentioned in the journals of early settlers. There have been no confirmed sightings of river otters in the state since 1953. Decades of trapping and habitat loss are believed to be two factors in their disappearance.

Current regulations require trappers to release any otters caught in traps. Twenty states, including Arizona, Colorado, and Utah have successfully reintroduced river otters. River otters and other predators play important roles in keeping communities of native species robust and diverse.

The State Game Commission directed the Department of Game and Fish in 2006 to initiate efforts to restore otters to state waters. A department study identified several rivers as suitable restoration sites, including the Upper Rio Grande, White Rock Canyon, and Middle Rio Chama in the Rio Grande Basin; and the Upper Gila, Lower Gila, and Lower San Francisco Rivers in the Gila River Basin. Next year’s efforts will be focused on reintroducing otters in the Upper Rio Grande and Gila river systems.

Funding for the reintroduction effort is being provided by the generous contributions of many New Mexican citizens, agencies and foundations, including the Thaw Trust and Earth Friends Wildlife Foundation.

Signpost cartoon c. Rudi Klimpert
Competitive birding at Bernardo

On November 17, the 1,573-acre Bernardo Waterfowl Management Area, a snow goose and sandhill crane wintering area south of Belen, was the featured location for an experimental “Big Day” bird count, reports the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

Big Day bird counts are friendly birding competitions offering prizes for the participants who log the most bird species during a period of time. The top prize was a Gaining Access Into Nature (GAIN) adventure offered by the Department of Game and Fish. Past GAIN trips included tracking Mexican wolves in the Gila National Forest, and observing bugling elk during the rut on the Sargent Wildlife Management Area near Chama.

Each November, cranes, ducks, and geese arrive by the thousands to spend the winter in New Mexico. They leave in the spring to return to more northerly locations to breed. Bernardo is one of four State Game Commission-owned waterfowl management areas used by the birds and stretching from Belen to La Joya. They are known collectively as the Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex. Bernardo is easily accessible off I-25.

The Department of Game and Fish, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperatively manage the wintering waterfowl habitat throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Their efforts, formalized in the Middle Rio Grande Waterfowl Management Plan, reduce the impact that geese and cranes have while feeding on adjacent private properties, reduce the threat of avian diseases that develop when the birds are confined in large groups, and provide opportunities for hunting and viewing.

A tremendous amount of habitat work has been done at Bernardo using money provided by the New Mexico Legislature.
Mike Gustin, lands manager for the Department of Game and Fish, says several hundred acres of salt cedar have been cleared and treated to restore native vegetation at Bernardo. An auto tour loop, picnic tables, and a birding trail have been developed.
For more information about Bernardo’s Big Day or the Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Management Area, call the Department of Game and Fish at (505) 476-8000 in Santa Fe.

Salmon snagging season opens

Snagging season for kokanee salmon at Heron Lake opened November 9 and ends December 31. The season opens later at Heron Lake than other northern New Mexico lakes to allow the Department of Game and Fish to gather and fertilize salmon eggs for future stocking.

Every fall, anglers congregate around lakes in northern New Mexico in hopes of snagging a few four-year-old kokanee, which form giant schools, spawn, and then die. Snagging is a technique for harvesting the soon-to-die salmon. The bag limit is twelve salmon per day and twenty-four in possession.

Snagging season is October 1 through December 31 for Abiquiu Lake, the Chama River from El Vado Lake to the west boundary of the Rio Chama wildlife and fishing area, El Vado Lake, Navajo Lake, and Eagle Nest Lake.

The 2007-2008 New Mexico Fishing Rules and Information Booklet lists two dates as the start of the snagging season at Heron Lake, Willow Creek, and the Pine River. The correct season opening date is Friday, November 9.

For more information about this or any other Department-related matter, please contact the Department of Game and Fish at (505) 222-4700.






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