Young mountain lion killed outside Santa Fe
A Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department officer shot
and killed a young mountain lion about midnight September
12 in the backyard of a residence south of Santa Fe.
The lion, a five-foot-long, forty-pound male with a twenty-inch
tail, had just killed a feral house cat when a resident of
Oak Street reported seeing it in his backyard about two miles
east of the Lone Butte General Store. A sheriff’s deputy
shot the lion after it would not leave its kill in the yard
and showed no fear of humans, posing a public-safety hazard.
Department of Game and Fish northwest-area assistant chief
Robert Livingston was en route to the site when the lion was
killed. He said the young lion was about eighteen to twenty
months old, the age when mother lions usually send their young
out on their own. It’s possible it was the same lion—or
a littermate—of the lion sighted recently in Santa Fe,
he said, but there is no way to be certain of that.
Mountain-lion sightings are unusual but not uncommon in
or around communities near mountains or foothills. Here are
some simple steps to follow if you live in lion country or
encounter a mountain lion:
• Closely supervise children. Make sure they are home
before dusk and not outside before dawn. Make lots of noise
if you come or go during times when mountain lions are most
active—dusk to dawn. Teach your children about lions
and what they should do if they encounter one.
• Landscape or remove vegetation to eliminate hiding
cover for lions, especially around areas where children play.
Make it difficult for a lion to approach unseen.
• Install outdoor lighting, especially in areas where
you walk, so you can see a lion if one were present.
• Close off open spaces below porches or decks.
• Do not feed wildlife, primarily deer. Use native plants,
not nonnatives, so as not to attract deer, which are the primary
prey of lions. Remember, predators follow prey.
• Do not let your pets roam around outside. Bring them
in at night. If you keep pets outside, provide a kennel with
a secure top. Do not feed pets outside where the food can
attract lions or other smaller animals, which lions prey upon.
Store and dispose of all garbage securely.
• Encourage your neighbors to take these precautions,
so that your neighborhood is a zone relatively safe from lions.
Remember, prevention is much better than a possible confrontation
with a lion.
If you encounter a lion:
• Stop—don’t run—and slowly back away.
Running may stimulate a lion’s natural instinct to give
chase and attack, as they would normally do with their prey.
• Make noise by yelling or talking loudly, and make
yourself appear larger by raising your arms and waving them.
If you have on a jacket or coat, open it and spread it out
with your arms to make your silhouette larger.
• Convince the lion that you’re not prey by throwing
rocks or sticks at it in an effort to drive it off. Convince
the lion that you are dominant and a danger to it.
• If a lion attacks, fight back. Use anything you can
as a weapon: rocks, sticks, backpacks, or your bare hands.
For more information about living with lions and other large
predators, or to report a problem with wildlife, please contact
a Department of Game and Fish conservation officer in your
area, call (505) 476-8000, or visit www.wildlife.state.nm.us
and click on the Publications link.
River otters may soon be a common sight on the upper Rio Grande
and upper Gila River in New Mexico.
Game Commission approves otter restoration
in New Mexico
—DAN WILLIAMS, NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF GAME
The state Game Commission approved proposals to move forward
with plans to restore river otters in two New Mexico Rivers,
and to rename the fish hatchery and trout lakes in Los Ojos.
At its meeting August 24 in Santa Fe, the commission directed
the Department of Game and Fish to proceed with plans to reintroduce
river otters to sections of the upper Rio Grande and the upper
Gila River. There have been no confirmed sightings of river
otters in the state since the 1950s, but recent reports indicate
some otters may have migrated to Navajo Lake from Colorado,
where they were reintroduced in the 1980s.
The commission’s action followed the department’s
presentation of a feasibility study that indicated otter reintroduction
efforts could be successful in state waters that formerly
were in the otters’ historic range. The study was the
result of research by and collaboration with a diverse group
of government agencies, the New Mexico River Otter Working
Group, and members of the public.
The New Mexico Game Commission is composed of seven members
who represent the state’s diverse interests in wildlife-associated
recreation and conservation. Members are appointed by the
governor and confirmed by the state senate. Current members
are Leo Sims, chairman, Hobbs; Tom Arvas, vice-chairman, Albuquerque;
Alfredo Montoya, Alcalde; David Henderson, Santa Fe; M.H.
“Dutch” Salmon, Silver City; Peter Pino, Zia Pueblo;
and Terry Riley, Tijeras. For more information, visit the
Department of Game and Fish Web site, at www.wildlife.state.nm.us.
Thanks from Watermelon Mountain Ranch
—SOPHIA DICLEMENTE, WATERMELON MOUNTAIN RANCH
All of us here at WMRAC wish to thank everyone who participated
in the Petsmart Charities Fall Adoptathon. Besides WMR, Española,
McKinley, Artesia shelters, Paws from Las Vegas, Felines and
Friends from Santa Fe, Husky Rescue, and other breed-specific
rescues brought their animals, and we are delighted that 159
animals found new, loving homes, making it the second most
successful adoptathon event in the United States this year.
Any animals that were left over from the municipal shelters
were either absorbed into the WMR system or boarded at Zoey's
Bed and Breakfast in Rio Rancho, pending being taken in by
Watermelon. It was just wonderful seeing all the animal-control
trucks coming in full and leaving empty. Our volunteers slept
at Petsmart Coors for two nights and we can never thank them
enough for their dedication and support of the event.
Our rescue partners at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary contacted
us for help with absorbing some of the fifteen-hundred-plus
rabbits that were rescued from Texas this summer. While we
have plenty of land (ten-plus acres) we had no facility for
rabbits, so in exchange of taking quite a few rabbits, Best
Friends sent out someone to build us a facility. Apart from
needing some landscaping, our Rabbitat has been completed
and the rabbits will be delivered to us in October. (They
have all been sterilized, so if you are looking for a rabbit,
we can certainly oblige. The same adoption criteria as for
dogs and cats will apply.)