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 cat

CAT: Black female cat darted out of her front door the morning of June 17th. She is an indoor, neutered female, one year old, black with a very thin stripe of white on her belly. She was lost from just southeast of the Village of Placitas on Camino del Oso (Dome Valley). "Audrey" has golden eyes and is microshipped. She weighs a little over 10 lbs. and has short hair. #3762. (See photo above)

Lost cat

CAT: Orange Tabby lost from the north part of Ranchos de Placitas (Camino Redondo) on June 22nd. "Gus" has freckles on his nose and around his eyes. He is microchipped. #3763. (See photo above)

CAT; Pure-black, female cat lost from the Tunnel Springs area of Placitas (Quail Meadow Rd) on June 17. She is about six months old. #3765.


DOG: Heeler, Female Cattle Dog found near the 3 mile marker on Highway 165 in Placitas on May 29th.  Looks like she had recently been pregnant. No collar, tags or microchip. She was taken to Watermelon Mountain Ranch. #3760

CAT: A black-and-white cat who is quite territorial has been hanging around in Linda Placitas (north of the Village of Placitas) for a little while. He is an unneutered male who has been getting into fights with some of the local house cats. Black with a little white on his chest and a white tipped tail. Seems pretty young. If not claimed, he will probably be available to a good home. #3764


DOG: Heeler/Lab cross seen running loose on Vista Montana Loop in the western part of Placitas (about 1 1/2 miles from I-25 on the south side of Highway 165) on June 17th. Seemed friendly, but not approachable. Black collar. Very short reddish hair. #3761.


available for adoption

Five short-haired (and very affectionate) kittens available to good homes. If interested, call Lisa at (505) 350-0227. They have their first shots, too!


Animal News

LaloLalo’s pet prints:

Cutie “Rachael” struts her stuff in a pink tutu during the Placitas Pet Parade in June.  
—Adrienne Smith


“Paidin”—survivor of canine distemper as a pup—greets a free-roaming foal in Placitas.  
—Cory Franklin

c. Peter Callen

About eighty protesters lined the street in front of the New Mexico Game and Fish offices in Albuquerque in June.

c, Peter Callen

Protesters against Game and Fish let signs do some of the talking. Photo credit: Peter Callen

N.M. Game and Fish says, “There are plenty of bears”

—Leota Harriman, The Independent

“There are plenty of bears there,” is what N.M. Game and Fish biologist Rick Winslow said when asked if the bear population of the Sandias is in danger. This was during BearWatch’s first-ever protest against the agency in June.

At this, the group’s first protest, about eighty people showed up. The group believes Game and Fish wants to eradicate the bear population in the Sandias.

“That’s not our job,” Winslow said in response. “Our job is to manage our populations within the boundaries of what the habitat can handle, and social carrying capacity. We’re not trying to reduce the population in the Sandias.”

Winslow said not only are Hayes and BearWatch wrong about the population in the Sandias, but that the bear population statewide has been growing.

Population estimates for bears are based on the carrying capacity of the habitat, Winslow said. “Nobody anywhere bases actual numbers on counts—bears don’t stand still. You can’t count them. There is no physical way to do it.”

Based on the carrying capacity of the Sandias, Winslow said the estimated population is “46 to 72 bears,” adding, “that range accounts for quite a bit of potential error either way.”

In 2010 in the Sandias, Game and Fish got 133 bear-related calls, Winslow said. Of those, 22 were acted upon, and 16 bears were relocated. In 2010, 13 bears total were killed.

In 2011 in the Sandias, the agency got 115 calls. In 27 cases, officers were dispatched; eleven bears were relocated and nine were killed, Winslow said.

BearWatch numbers show 22 bears killed or removed in 2010 from the Sandias, and 27 bears killed or removed in 2011. BearWatch combines these numbers, Hayes said, because “a removed bear is the same as a killed bear to the Sandias—it’s never going to mate.”

Winslow said the state believes bear numbers are up overall, because of increased sightings in places like White Sands—where there is now a breeding population—while at the same time calls and sightings in more normal bear habitats have stayed steady.

Asked if the agency has a policy to reduce bear populations, Winslow gave seemingly contradictory answers: “Not in the Sandias, and not really anywhere,” he said, then adding, “We are looking at trying to reduce the populations in a few specific areas,” including Raton, Pecos and some parts of the Sangre de Cristos by twenty percent.

But Winslow reiterated that a population reduction is not sought in the Sandias.

“[Those] are areas where there is a perennial dumpster bear situation,” Winslow said. “The problem with those nuisance animals is they know where they can get human-provided food, which is often times easier than foraging naturally. They become habituated to humans.”

And therein lies the nub of the problem with bears: interaction with humans.

“More people have moved in,” Winslow said of the Sandias. “People move to the mountains because they want to be in the mountains, but certain people don’t have tolerance for what the mountains have to offer. They complain, and we’ve had to be more proactive in dealing with nuisance bears. It’s dangerous when you have bears breaking into somebody’s house to get at food.”

Hayes said Game and Fish should go after problem humans and not just problem bears, and Winslow said that Game and Fish would be the agency to write a ticket.

“The whole climate between conservationists and Game and Fish has completely changed,” Hayes said, “in a very negative sense. … I’ve asked them over and over again to start pushing a bear-proofing program for all bear country communities. They don’t give tickets to people who continue to keep their garbage out and then ask [Game and Fish] to come and kill or remove bears.”

Winslow said that while any law enforcement agency can write a citation for leaving garbage, pet food, and other bear attractants outdoors, “most of them don’t know the law exists.”

Game and Fish will issue a citation if they get phone calls from someone who continues to attract bears, and continues to call in the agency to deal with them. “There are people who are just ridiculous,” Winslow said. “Bird feeders are a huge problem.”

Winslow advises that during summer months when seed is plentiful, that people not put out bird seed at all. As for hummingbird feeders, “bring them in at night,” he said.

The biggest problems are trash, bird feed, fruit trees, and barbecue grills, Winslow said, advising that residents keep the trash in a bear-proof container or building, and only putting it out for collection on the day of pick-up.

Winslow also advised keeping the barbecue grill clean or in a bear-proof building when not in use. “Keep your grounds clean,” he said. “Make sure there’s not rotting fruit on the ground… Pets should not be fed outside.”

Education of the public is the best defense against problem bears, Winslow said. Most of the problem bears are “younger dispersing males… looking for a place,” he said.

Ironically, he said that role has been well-filled by BearWatch. “You can live with bears coming through the neighborhood occasionally,” Winslow said. “It’s just a matter of people who choose to live in those urban-wildland interfaces need to learn how to live there without affecting those natural processes.”

Reprinted with permission from The Independent—a weekly newspaper serving the East Mountains and the Estancia Valley. Visit

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