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 #4057: If you see me, call the Hotline


Cat: Ten-year-old male, gray Tabby (tiger-striped), neutered and has no hair on belly. He was lost June 16 from the Village of Placitas on Camino de la Ciruela.  #4057 (See photo, top right.)

Dog: One-year-old female, long-haired, light tan Chihuahua-cross. She is not spayed. Lost on June 2.  #4058

Dog: Tan female Chihuahua-mix. "Tiki" is a little dog with a collar and tags with address. She was lost June 19 from 23 Placitas Trails Rd in Placitas.  #4059 (See notice above)


Dog: Boxer-mix, tan with white stripe down the forehead. Dog seen June 14 near 111 Camino de las Huertas in Placitas. #4054

Two dogs: Akitas that look identical, white with dark spots and curly tails.  Spotted off Camino de las Huertas at Las Huertas Ridge Road on June 11.  #4055

Dog: Large, brown Lab/Golden Retriever-mix, no collar.  Seen June 20 one half mile east of I-25 on Highway 165.  #4056


Animal News


Lalo’s pet prints:

Lalo loves to receive your pet and animal photos to print in the Signpost.
Email them to “Lalo” at:
Or mail prints to: Signpost, P. O. Box 889 Placitas, NM 87043

Hey, Lalo, How’ goin’?
—Photo by Todd Renneckar

Puma or “managing wild-ness”

—Peter Callen

The puma, or mountain lion, is one of the last “wild” animals of the North American “wild lands.” Along with the Grizzly Bear and wolf, the puma is hard to “manage.” But that is the definition of wild isn’t it? Uncontrolled and uncontrollable, free to live and die on their own; and here in the “lower 48” states of the U.S., there are few large animals left that are not managed, counted, culled, hunted, bred for meat, radio collared, and divided into “units” of land. Pumas are not tomatoes, so they should not be “harvested.” Pumas are top-of-the-food-chain predators, and life at the top is anything but easy. Large predators that eat only meat (obligate carnivores) are especially rare; only the puma and wolf, narrowing my previous list of three to just two, as the Grizzly Bear is omnivorous.

Now the New Mexico Deptartment of Game and Fish is under political pressure from the Martinez administration and a few Republican state senators to increase the number of pumas killed each year. Right now, the number killed by hunting (with dogs mainly, and mainly by out-of-state hunters) has been pretty steady for the past five years at about 250 per year, statewide. Somehow, the NM Department of Game and Fish has come up with a number, 750, that represents the “sustainable harvest” of mountain lions—like they were trees, or tomatoes.

First of all, I’ve heard tell from the researchers and read the scholarly literature that states, over and over again, how difficult it is for anyone to know with any reasonable accuracy how many pumas there are at any one time in the state of New Mexico, or any other state for that matter. The dearth of hard scientific evidence on these animals’ population numbers is staggering. We know more about how many helium atoms there are in the sun than we do about the number of pumas on Earth. We can see and measure the sun, but we can’t see a brown cat in the brown hills covered with brown brush. So there is that.

The other thing about this issue is the rationale for killing pumas at all. Now taking cattle and other livestock depredation, (which is the killing of livestock by pumas) taking that aside, which numbers about twenty reported/sanctioned pumas killed per year for that reason, it seems to keep coming back to this other reason—to increase the Mule Deer population. Again, I don’t hold a degree in Cougarology, but from what I understand about ecology, predator numbers follow behind prey numbers. If you have to start killing predators to increase prey numbers then #1: you’re in trouble, #2: the prey is in trouble, and #3: the predators are in trouble.

But that is what a healthy ecosystem is supposed to look like, and I haven’t seen one, so I don’t know. But again, from what I’ve heard about remnant healthy ocean reef ecosystems, scientists were stunned to find hundreds of sharks, the top predators, big schools of sharks, way more than had ever been estimated to exist in a healthy ecosystem.

But back to the issue of killing pumas to increase Mule Deer populations. In my mind, if you have a crashing Mule Deer population, like we have in New Mexico, the last thing you would look at “managing” is the predator population, as that will be falling along for years, behind the prey numbers, even after the prey numbers start increasing, taking several more years to start increasing behind the prey numbers. The first thing I would think you’d be looking at is the Mule Deer habitat quality, namely food quality and quantity and next looking at suitable cover and fawning areas.

And then there are people, but we can’t be the problem, it must be nature that needs to be managed. Wow, talk about projection of your problems onto someone and something else...

I don’t think it’s nature that needs to be managed so much as people themselves—maybe we’re the wild, unmanageable ones after all.

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