Watch out for coyotes during mating season
Ken Poddorny of USDA Wildlife Services advises that courtship begins for coyotes in January. When the pups are born in the springtime, coyotes become more territorial and aggressive, since they have to defend and feed their young. It is a good idea to try to scare coyotes away from your yard, even though they are probably well accustomed to your presence.
Poddorny advises pet owners to watch out for coyotes that might have a den nearby. They can make a meal of your cat or small dog. It's a good time of year to make sure that your fences and chicken coops are secure. Coyotes have been known to attack full-grown German shepherds and rottweilers in defense of their pups. Preventing encounters between domestic animals and coyotes saves lives.
Animal abuse in Rio Rancho
Watermelon Mountain Ranch has the one surviving puppy from the litter of pups that were shot and killed in December. They have named this wonderful dog Spirit. Spirit still needs special care and will be available for adoption by the middle of January. The pup can be viewed at www.wmranch.org. Animal Protection of New Mexico has offered a $500 reward for information on the killings, and Watermelon Mountain Ranch has matched this reward. The total reward is $1,000. If you know anything about this incident, call WMR at 771-0140.
The animal shelter that won’t play dead
Just when it looked like Sandoval County had finally run Placitas Animal Rescue out of business, Gary Miles announced that it would reopen in December. “If they want to cite me, let them come, I'm ready for them," Miles told the Albuquerque Journal last month. "But I'd rather they work with me to help the animals," he said.
County officials raided PAR on July 22, but found no animals to confiscate because Miles had voluntarily placed eighty dogs, five cats, two horses, and a pig in foster homes. He complied with district court judge Olguin's court order to close the facility that it had found to be in violation of Sandoval County zoning regulations.
On September 16, the New Mexico Court of Appeals gave Miles and Sandoval County twenty days to respond to its proposed summary disposition saying that it would uphold Sandoval County District Court’s decision to deny a zoning change that would keep the Placitas Animal Rescue shelter open, but at the same time would rule that the lower court had denied Miles due process in ordering the closure. They said that the court skipped a step in the legal process by going beyond the question of a zoning change.
If Miles resumes sheltering animals that he rescues, Sandoval County will have to go back to the courts and prove that a zoning violation exists in order to obtain an order to close the shelter. Miles has requested that Judge Olguin remove herself from from a pending case that appeals a PAR request for nonconforming use of the property.
County Attorney David Matthews stated on December 19 that the county would enforce zoning regulations but was not going to take action based on newspaper reports or advertising. He said that they were investigating the situation, but that enforcement would require complaints and evidence of violations. Matthews also said that he is waiting for the outcome of the nonconforming-use appeal and for a decision from the county commission.
Sandoval county worked for years to shut down PAR and Miles’ auto salvage business. During that time Miles began videotaping almost every county meeting, objecting to most county actions, and generally rubbing them the wrong way. Officials insist that the problem with the shelter is strictly a zoning issue. PAR claims that it was operating prior to the adoption of zoning in Placitas in 1990. In spite of a great deal of public support and a definite need, the Sandoval County Commission has denied zoning to allow the existence of PAR. Many people believe that the actions of the county are part of a vendetta against a self appointed government watchdog who has been an outspoken critic of its actions.
In an ironic twist, last month Miles rescued nineteen dogs, including sixteen puppies, from beneath a wood pile on Commissioner Bill Sapien's property. Bernalillo Animal Control had tried unsuccessfully for three weeks to catch the dogs. Sapien said that he didn't call PAR. He was quoted in the Albuquerque Journal as being concerned that people are "using Sandoval County as a dumping grounds for their animals." Miles said that the first animals to return to PAR were the dogs rescued from Sapien’s yard.
The wild horses of Placitas inspired the following story. It is based in fact.
They danced together in the moonlight, noses touching through the cold gray steel pipe of the mustang fence—too high to jump, too strong to topple over. A wild strawberry-roan stallion of about three years and his five-month-old captive rabicano brother greeted each other, getting as close as the corral would permit. Their older gray brother also stood outside the fence investigating some twigs of hay that had blown from inside, while the third member of the wild bachelor-stallion threesome—called the Three Amigos by local residents—nibbled on the rosebushes that surrounded the small pueblo-style home just a few yards away.
A small bay mare, similar in appearance to the stallion, stood back by the three-stall barn, close enough to keep an eye on the young one but far enough away to protect herself and the new foal she was carrying from potential conflicts with the stallions on the other side of the fence.
It was late October and this was the first meeting of the small family since the traumatic day in June when the rest of the band of wild horses had been rounded up, force-loaded onto a stock trailer, and hauled off to the livestock auction an hour-and-a-half ride away. The big stallion who fathered two of the Three Amigos, the colt, and the foal the mare was carrying had broken his neck and died rather than be loaded onto the trailer. Only a week or two old, the pretty red colt with the wide white blaze had witnessed the slaughter. Before being crowded into the auction ring, he watched his birth mother, weakened by hunger from a long drought and injured during transport, wither and die before him. The little bay mare that adopted him saw her new baby die as well.
A middle-aged angel of mercy with a long red ponytail rescued the pair from the meat packers and eventually they and two other mares from the band were adopted by humans who shared their home range in the New Mexican foothills. The Three Amigos were alive only because the stallion had chased them out of the band months before as they were maturing to breeding age. By doing so, he had saved their lives, at least for a while.
So they danced in the moonlight, nickering and nuzzling, smelling in each other the blood line connecting them all. They shared a tender touch and perhaps mourned for those who were no more and for those who would never be. On that mesa top in the fall moonlight, brothers came together, the once free who would most likely never feel the open spaces of the high-desert hills come up to meet his pounding hooves or spar with other young stallions for the affections of a wild mare, and the still free, whose legacy was dwindling around them with the encroachment of housing developments and gravel mines, with the grinding of road machinery, and the roar of off-road vehicles. How long before that dance would become a ghost dance and their graceful movement across the hilltops just a memory?