Sandoval Signpost


An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Dave Harper

If you lose or find an animal in Placitas area, call the Animal Hotline at 867-6135. The Hotline is a nonprofit service run by Dave and January Harper to help reunite lost and found pets. Placing a Lost or Found in the Animal Hotline is a free service courtesy of the Signpost—we can sometimes even include a photo. Call Dave and January at 867-6135 or 263-2266 and leave a detailed message, or email the Animal Hotline at: (but call, too).


Lost dogDOG: Small Terrier named "Toto" lost from the very north part of Placitas. Mostly black, with a little bit of his hair on his head dyed magenta. He is only about seven pounds and was lost from near the end of Camino de la Rosa Castilla (Calle de las Brujas) around New Years. #3720


DOG: Blue Heeler. Well-behaved, smart, beautiful blue heeler found on Friday, January 20 northeast of the Village of Placitas off Camino del Tecolote. Male dog, found on Calle Taraddei. #3722

Animal News

Lalo's Pet Prints


“‘Sparta’ enjoying Lalo’s Pet Prints in the Signpost” —by Gayle Schramm


“‘Sammy’” —by Mark S. Vaughan


“‘Tilly’ after a hard day of swimming!”—Kirby Tillotson, Placitas

Bobcat injured by trap

Bobcat captured

Bobcat tracks

Bobcat found trapped in shed

—Barb Belknap

On December 27, Siobhan Hammack was walking her dog “Vassar” through an arroyo behind their Placitas home in the Sandia Mountain foothills area of Placitas West when she came upon a disturbed area in the patchy snow. The area showed feline prints and told of an animal that had been running in circles, dragging something. Hammack said she could tell the prints were feline, since cats retract their claws and no claw marks were showing. Animal scat abounded.

“It wasn’t coyote scat,” Hammack told the Signpost. “There were no juniper berries in it, and it was mostly hairy with mouse parts and things.” She also spied a trail that looked like the animal had been dragging the something for quite a distance.

Two vehicles marked with state logos were parked on the road nearby and two men were peering into a shed. Siobhan ventured over to see what was going on. One man called out to her, “Watch out! We’ve got a bobcat.” Inside her neighbor’s small outbuilding, Brian Gleadle, Chief of the Northwest Area Operations of New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and Shawn Carrell, District Conservation Officer of the Albuquerque area of New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, were attending to a beagle-sized bobcat whose front leg was ensnared by a leg-hold trap. The cat was assumed to have entered the shed for shelter as it struggled with its injury.

After returning “Vassar” home, Hammack returned to the scene to witness the officers shoot the animal with two tranquilizer darts, but, even with the anesthesia administered, the officers couldn’t control it long enough to release the trap from its leg. They noosed the bobcat with a catch pole around its neck, placed it into a container, and loaded it into their truck, telling Hammack that they were taking the bobcat to Dr. Michael Forsyth in Rio Rancho for evaluation. They expected it to be treated there, then sent to The Wildlife Center—a wildlife facility in Española—for rehabilitation, and then released for relocation into the wild.

I spoke with Ross Morgan, Public Information Outreach officer for New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, who said that bobcats do well with relocation, that they are very adaptive with new environments and living alongside other animals, such as coyotes. He said, “It’s not unusual to see a bobcat in Placitas. We get tons of bobcat sightings called in per year, but only about one or two actual trapping calls per year.”

Hammack moved to Placitas recently and, though this is the first bobcat she’s seen, she watches coyotes travel through her backyard arroyo nightly. Her neighbor has four cats, which might provide an incentive for these wild animals to prowl nearby. Another neighbor told her that the bobcat had been living in the arroyo behind Hammack’s house for quite a while.

“I love living near wildlife,” Hammack said, “and I’m concerned for our pets. Mostly, I wonder what are the laws for setting animal traps in places where we and all these animals walk.” She said that Officer Gleason had told her that it was trapping season now and that people are allowed to set these kinds of traps within a certain radius of their property.

Regarding the trapping laws in residential areas, Morgan told the Signpost, “You can place a land set [trap or snare] on your own private property, yes. You can place traps on public land, too. But there are certain rules and regulations regarding placing them near residences, roads, and trailheads.”

One web site——was created by New Mexicans working alongside others in the state to focus public attention on the fact that steel-jaw leg-hold traps, steel-wire snares, and other barbaric body-gripping animal traps are secreted all over the Gila National Forest and on other public lands in the state. The website shows the New Mexico trapping rules clearly, as follows:

  • No land set may be placed within one-quarter mile of an occupied dwelling without prior, written permission of the dwelling’s occupant, except for a land set placed by a landowner on his own land.
  • No land set may be placed within one-quarter mile of an established public campground, roadside rest area, picnic area, or boat launching area.
  • No land set may be placed within twenty-five yards of any U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management system trail designated by the agency on a map provided for the general public, or within twenty-five yards of the shoulder of any public road annually maintained with public funds.
  • When a boundary fence is present, sets must be made on the side of the fence opposite the road.
  • No land set may be placed within fifty yards of any man-made livestock or wildlife catchment, pond, or tank containing water, except on private land with written permission of the landowner.

Actually, hikers and pets wandering on public lands in New Mexico may encounter traps all year round. Morgan told me that trapping season for bobcat is November 1 through March 15. The trapping of various other protected furbearing animals, such as raccoon, weasel, and fox is permitted at different times from September 1 through May 15. Trapping of non-protected furbearing animals, such as coyotes and skunks, is permitted year round.

Regarding the bobcat that Hammack came upon, Ross Morgan relayed that the leg-hold trap was released from its leg at the veterinarian’s office where it was treated for minor injuries and deemed fit for release without rehabilitation. The bobcat was taken to the White Mesa Wilderness near San Ysidro, New Mexico, and released.

Animal help organization aids pets in Mexico

The Helping Paws Across Borders organization is planning another spay and neuter clinic in March, 2012, to help the local pets in a village called Hopkins, in Belize, Mexico. They are requesting help in the way of supplies for the neglected and helpless animals there. Donations of antibiotics, pet food, towels, bandage materials, tarps, leashes, and collars are welcome. Donations of flea and tick preventative are needed, as well. To help, you may contact Angie Cherry at:; or visit:

Bald Eagles watched at Abiquiu Lake

—Army Corps of Engineers 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Abiquiu Lake hosted its annual Midwinter Eagle Watch in January.  Volunteers met at the Abiquiu Lake project office ready to work.

At the start, The Wildlife Center presented an educational program on Bald Eagles, featuring their non-releasable Bald Eagle, “Maxwell.”

The purpose of the annual watch is to collect data which will assist in national and local tracking of the bird's numbers. It is also an opportunity to encourage shared stewardship with the public to help keep track of wildlife populations and ensure that their habitat is adequate for their numbers.

National Wildlife Federation officials have asked that participants in each state count eagles along standard routes to provide data trends. The basic objectives of the survey are to index the total wintering Bald Eagle population in the lower 48 states, to determine eagle distribution during a standardized survey period, and to identify previously unrecognized areas of important winter habitat.

The annual midwinter survey represents a unique source of long-term, baseline data. Unlike nesting surveys, it provides information on both breeding and non-breeding segments of the population at a potentially limiting time of year. The count has become a national tradition since 1984, and is an annual event at Abiquiu Lake. In addition to providing information on eagle trends, distribution, and habitat, the count has helped to create public interest in the conservation of our national symbol, the Bald Eagle. 

For additional information on this and other projects, call the Abiquiu Lake Project Office at 505-685-4371 or visit:

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