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.



Lost cat CAT: Grey tabby with green eyes lost May 22 on Camino de la Questa del Aire in northern Placitas (almost three miles north of the Village off Camino de las Huertas). She is female, a little over five years old, with a brown freckle on the white part of her cheek. #3200.


CAT: Beautiful, dark grey tabby cat seen May 31 on Puesta del Sol Road, about one-tenth of a mile south of Highway 165, near the five-mile marker, west of the Village of Placitas. #3201.

HAWK: There was a pet red hawk with a strap flying over the neighborhood at Placitas West Road near Highway 165, reported on May 31. #3203.


cats for adoption

TWO CATS: Two spayed, female, shorthaired kittens available for adoption. These two beautiful, healthy, sweet sisters are two years old. And did I say smart? They have already familiarized themselves with the use of both scratching post and litter box. All they need now is a good, permanent home, and one or two smart humans. #3211 & 3212. Call Lisa at 867-0869.


“Baxter,” 12, salivates over an unaware bunny.

“The Mook,” 16, sleeps in her cool summer bowl.




Lalo’s pet prints

Howdy! This month, we
got pictures of more
cats. I think people
should get some dogs.

Mail or email your favorite pet photos, along with a caption and photo credit to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889, Placitas, NM 87043.
Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, if you would like them returned or email high resolution digital photos to:


Animal News


Animal safe passage project expands to Edgewood

A $1.2 million animal crossing and protection area is planned along I-40 and NM 333 between Edgewood and Mountain Valley Road.

The federally funded project, similar to the Tijeras Canyon safe crossing area, will include fencing, electro mats, tree thinning, and animal crossing warning signs. The Tijeras Canyon Safe Passage Coalition is pushing for creation of open space alongside the stretch of highway.

“The scheduled production date, which includes the plans and a finalized publication so contractors can bid on the project, should be complete by the end of July,” Jeff Fredine, state Department of Transportation environmental specialist, said. “Construction should begin by late fall.”

A feasibility study last year showed the Edgewood area to be a hot spot for animal collisions. The goal is to cut collisions to a minimum. Fredine discussed the project at Wildlife West in Edgewood in June.

Mark Fahey, a Department of Transportation official who worked on the Tijeras project, stressed the importance of monitoring the corridor. ”Monitoring is the best way we can evaluate the effectiveness of these measures,” he said. Fahey said drivers should watch for animals along the highway and notify the state Department of Game and Fish of sightings.

He said of the Tijeras installation, “The principal goal, so far, is being achieved, and that is to keep large animals off the interstate.” Fencing and signs have only been up six months. “It is too early to have any definitive data,” Fahey said.

Mark Watson, of state Game and Fish, said, “We’re asking citizens that see mule deer or black bears that are hit to report to me.” He can be reached at (505) 222-4700. “To my knowledge, since the project went up, there have been no mule deer collisions within the freeway where the fencing occurs,” he said.

Watson said motion detectors are still being calibrated by Econolite. “If an animal moves into the range of the camera, it triggers the blinking lights to provide drivers with real-time warning. Initially they were staying on more than they should have.”

Watson said the lights located near A. Montoya Elementary School will always blink when a car drives by, but the other lights farther east should only be triggered by wildlife.

He said mule deer and other large animals will cross I-40 beneath the overpasses, but smaller game will use the many culverts and tunnels to cross. He said animals need to travel between the Sandia and Manzano mountains to ensure a constant gene flow.

Watson recommended people and pets stay clear of crossing areas because otherwise wildlife may be driven to using unsafe areas. He said electro mats laid into the pavement prevent animals from straying into unsafe areas. “They will shock you if you’re barefoot,” he said. Switches may be installed to allow people to turn off the electric current while crossing the mats.

This article originally appeared in the June 4-10, 2008 issue of The Independent.

New Mexico man killed by mountain lion

Game and Fish officers and U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services agents used dogs and snares on June 23 in a continuing effort to find or catch a mountain lion that killed and apparently ate parts of a Pinos Altos man last week. Medical investigators confirmed Monday that Robert Nawojski, 55, died from injuries sustained in a mountain lion attack near his home in a wooded area of Pinos Altos north of Silver City.

It was determined that Nawojski, who according to relatives like to bathe and shave on a rock ledge about 60 yards from his house, was attacked just below that ledge. The lion then apparently dragged the body a short distance, and then ate and buried parts of it. A Department of Game and Fish officer initially was called to the scene Thursday night when a search team looking for Nawojski found a mountain lion near the trailer home. The officer shot and wounded the lion after it would not leave the yard. After the lion ran off, the officer discovered the door to the house open, the water running, and Nawojski's false teeth on the table.

Nawojski became only the second human fatality involving a mountain lion attack in recent New Mexico history. In January 1974, an 8-year-old boy from Arroyo Seco was killed by an emaciated 47-pound female lion. There are 2,000 to 3,000 mountain lions in New Mexico.

Love takes to the less-traveled road

The cops shot a cougar in Chicago a month ago. DNA tests suggested the young male may have begun his journey in the Black Hills of South Dakota, 1,000 miles away. If so, he roamed across three big states, looking for love.

Earlier this winter, an automatic camera set up by a biologist photographed a wolverine in a forest north of Lake Tahoe. This was jaw dropping—the first documented wolverine sighting in California in 85 years. Hair samples suggested this vagabond may have come from as far away as Idaho’s Sawtooth Range.

Scientists suspect these pioneers are following stream courses, figuring it out as they go much the way Lewis and Clark did, though without the help of Sacagawea. I imagine it’s harder for a cougar to reach Chicago than it is for a climber to summit Everest. Wisconsin is awash in whitetails, but even at today’s lofty gasoline prices Eisenhower’s interstates are a shooting gallery. Try crossing I-10 in Phoenix on foot and you get the idea.

Rare animal sightings make my day. I root for lynx and ivory bills and underdogs. If a wolf walks from Yellowstone to Colorado, I’m going to cheer him on, because it’s a concrete jungle out there. Most of these lone wayfarers are doomed never to find mates. From a genetic perspective, a wolverine in California is a zombie, one of the walking dead. But these unusual peregrinations may become more common as oil becomes more expensive and driving decreases. Diesel is four bucks headed to five, gasoline is close to four. Pretty soon we may have to sell it by the liter as they do in Europe. All this may play havoc with our driving, but it will sure make life easier for wandering animals.

The West is a vast landscape that cheap oil simultaneously shrunk and inflated. You can drive from Denver to Reno in a long day, but much of the landscape you pass through has never been emptier. Conservation biologists call it the “semi-wild,” and it has a bright future. The semi-wild is not the forest primeval. It’s the land out back where no one goes anymore. Our subdivision in western Colorado borders 1,600 acres of BLM. Scrub oak, sagebrush encroaching on abandoned jeep roads, turkey, bear, elk and coyote. There is a small creek where you might find a rusty can, a broken green bottle, a deflated party balloon that drifted in from the town park, an old fire ring, a spent cartridge. This is where kids used to build their forts and shoot 22s. Aging ranchers used to talk about Three Toes, the last griz. Now, sociologists search for the last kid in the woods, a mythological beast about as rare as the yeti.

Today’s kids grow up in cars. A typical American soccer mom drives the distance to the moon every 20 years. But after a century of steady increases, vehicular miles traveled in the United States have leveled off at 3 trillion a year. MasterCard says gasoline sales have recently been down by an astounding 5 percent.

Cheap oil is not endangered; it is extinct. From now on, we’re bidding against the Chinese, and by 2010, the strike price may be $180 a barrel, which means gasoline will be $5 the gallon. Diesel might well be $6. That’s a different world for long-distance commuters, airlines, tractor-reliant ranchers and farmers, semi-truck drivers, grocery shoppers, house-boat operators on Lake Powell, owners of gargantuan RVs. Traffic jams in Glacier National Park might ease, and Las Vegas’ growth may slow. U.S. 50, the “loneliest road in America,” may get lonelier.

Since 1985, we Americans have been consuming 40 percent of Mexico’s oil. Most of it is produced at Cantarell, a giant field created by the same asteroid strike that may have killed the dinosaurs. Unfortunately, Cantarell and Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay are well on their way to being spent cartridges. Within a decade, Mexico won’t be exporting any oil. This might mean boom times for a different type of coyote.

More expensive oil could lead to a surge in animal travel, and in fact, it’s already begun. Wolves are moving down from Minnesota into a northern Wisconsin made wild again by a stern combination of ticks, black flies and Lyme disease.

So, prowl on young cougar. Your wandering gives me pleasure. To the east lies Illinois, a promised land. As for the last kid in the woods, you go, girl. Peak oil should be good for you, too.

Randy Udall is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (





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