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.

Apples Harper

Apples Harper,” January 1988–September 2007

for adoption


(Above) DOG: Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever Cross,
female, spayed and microchipped. About 5 years old. Fantastic family dog. Available for adoption.
Call 250-4143.

When I moved to Placitas in 1988, I came here with six cats. They all lived to be at least fifteen years old. My last old cat, “Apples,” passed away this month at the age of nineteen. Needless to say they were all indoor cats. There are many predators in the area including coyotes and owls which can take away fully grown cats. I suggest everyone keep their cats indoors.


CAT: Little black cat with a pink nose lost from Rainbow Valley (south side of Highway 165, across from Ranchos de Placitas) in early September. 1-1/2 years old. Female. #3078


DOG: Older, large, blonde, male retriever cross found in Placitas Trails, at the end of August. Taken to Watermelon Mountain Ranch. #3067

DOG: Small, multicolored dog with somewhat long hair (about the size of a Chihuahua) found in Bernalillo, the first week of September. Brown, black, and white. #3070

2 DOGS: 2 Sharpei dogs had been roaming around western Placitas areas and picked up by Placitas Animal Rescue on September 14. Caramel colored. One is male, one is female. #3076 & 3077

2 CATS: 2 Young Cats found in La Mesa (northwestern Placitas area) on September 21st. Seem like they are brother and sister. About 6 months old. Friendly. One is long haired black male, other is white female with blue eyes. #3028 & 3029


CAT: Black cat, skinny spotted about a mile south of the Village of Placitas (Dome Valley area), in early September. #3068

FERRET: Black footed ferret seen about 2.5 miles north of the Village of Placitas, the first week of September, off Windmill Trail. #3073

DOG: Little black-and-white dog seen wandering around on Aspen Road, in Ranchos de Placitas, on September 9. #3075

DOG: Young, shepherd cross spotted along Highway 165 in Placitas, near the 4-mile marker and the Forest Loop Road, on about September 11th. Probably about 30 lbs. Skittish. #3079

DOG: Mid-sized black dog with brown on the face, seen near the Merc and Placitas Homesteads. #3080

Animal News

Electric fencing, highway mats give wildlife safer passage in Tijeras Canyon

Deer and other wildlife can now commute more safely between habitats in the Sandia and Manzano mountains east of Albuquerque with the activation of electric fencing and highway mats designed to provide the animals safe passage over and below I-40 and NM 333, formerly Route 66.

Turning on the power was among the final steps in the development of a $750,000 system to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions along five miles through Tijeras Canyon.

Representatives of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the Department of Transportation, the Tijeras Canyon Safe Passage Coalition, and the Wild Friends group gathered Tuesday for the ceremonial “flip of the switch.” The electrical system is a vital component of the project, which also includes about seven-foot wildlife-proof fencing, passages under existing overpasses, warning signs and solar-powered motion-detecting cameras that turn on highway caution lights.

“This is the only system of its kind in New Mexico and among only a few in the United States,” said Mark Watson, a habitat specialist with the Department of Game and Fish. “We’re expecting it to significantly reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions in Tijeras Canyon and reconnect Sandia and Manzano mountain wildlife habitats.”

The project has roots in the 2003 Legislature and House Joint Memorial 3, sponsored by Representative Mimi Stewart and supported by the conservation group Wild Friends. The memorial directed the Department of Game and Fish and the Department of Transportation to work together to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions in New Mexico.

“Safety was a key issue when tackling this project,” said Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught. “This particular wildlife crossing was identified among the four highest risk areas in the state where large game animals and vehicles collide. With the additions to the new corridor, we are creating a safe passage for wildlife and safe travel for people.”

The Electrobraid fencing is designed to deliver a mild shock to animals that touch it, discouraging them from passing through. The fences consist of several horizontal strands of black rope-like material that is about a half-inch in diameter. The fence can deliver a six- to seven-thousand-volt, four milliamp shock for 3/10,000th of a second—enough to sting, but not seriously harm a human. The fence will be monitored by satellite twenty-four hours a day by the Electrobraid Fence Company in New Brunswick, Canada.

The project also includes seven Electro-mats, which are built into roadways and act like electrical cattle guards, preventing wildlife or other animals from crossing. The approximately four-foot-wide mats span the roadways in five locations along NM 333 and across the I-40 on- and off-ramps at Tijeras. The mats along NM 333 are designed to encourage wildlife to cross the road in designated areas where motion-detecting cameras and caution lights will alert motorists to slow down when wildlife are present. The on- and off-ramp mats are designed to keep wildlife off the freeway. Twelve specially-designed escape ramps were constructed in case animals somehow become trapped inside the fencing along I-40.

Pedestrians wearing shoes will be able to safely walk across the Electro-mats. Bicyclists also can safely cross the mats. However, the mats will deliver shocks to dogs, horses, or people without shoes.

The additions to the wildlife corridor were included in the $27 million GRIP I-40 Carnuel-to-Tijeras project. Governor Richardson’s Investment Partnership, or GRIP, is a $1.6 billion transportation initiative aimed at improving the state’s highways while creating thousands of local jobs.

The Department of Game and Fish will monitor Phase I of the system to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing vehicle-wildlife collisions and directing wildlife to safe passages across and under the highways. Should it prove to be ineffective, the Department of Transportation’s Phase II and Phase III strategies call for more passages, possibly including a land bridge over I-40.

Antelope-killing spree earns poachers jail time, big fines

Calling the offenses “a serial act of terrorism against the people of Colfax and Union counties,” a judge sentenced two Texas men who went on a 2006 antelope-killing spree to ninety days in jail and ordered each to pay $10,750 in criminal and civil penalties.

Colfax County District Judge John P. Paternoster sentenced Fort Worth residents Kolby Knight, 21, and Jonathon Seamen, 22, on August 29 after plea agreements. Both men’s rifles were surrendered to the Department of Game and Fish and the judge ordered the men to write apology letters to the citizens of Colfax and Union counties to be published in local newspapers.

Department of Game and Fish officers received an anonymous call on November 6, 2006, that Knight and Seamen were returning to Fort Worth from a hunting trip in Idaho and that they planned to kill pronghorn antelope as they traveled from Raton to Clayton.

An undercover officer quickly found the silver Cadillac Escalade described by the informant. The officer watched and heard rifle shots as the vehicle stopped near groups of antelope along the highway. Department officers stopped the vehicle in Clayton and found Knight and Seamen in possession of a deer head that was illegally killed in Idaho. Officers later found five antelope that had been killed by the pair and also found where Knight and Seamen had tried to hide two antelope heads they were planning to take to Texas. Officers also matched ballistic evidence found along the ninety-mile crime scene with the rifles carried by Knight and Seamen.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Paternoster said he was amazed that no one was killed by the bullets shot along the highway that day and that he will always remember the two poachers as he drives the highway from Raton to Clayton and sees all the beautiful antelope.

If you have any information about wildlife crimes, please call your local conservation officer or Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-GAME (4263). Callers can remain anonymous and can receive rewards for information leading to the arrest or charges filed upon wildlife criminals.


Hard times for trout and anglers at McAllister Lake

McAllister Lake, the beautiful New Mexico playa lake and a popular fishing spot near Las Vegas, has come on hard times this year. With hot summer temperatures and an accidental diversion of water, the trout in the lake reached their boiling point and died.

“McAllister Lake is really on the threshold for trout in New Mexico,” says Eric Frey, Northeast Area Fisheries Manager. “Because the lake is so shallow, summer heat causes marginal water quality for trout survival.”

The fish kill was reported to the Department of Game and Fish on June 22. An investigation determined that high water temperatures and low oxygen levels likely killed all the trout in the lake.

So what led to this disaster? There were actually several factors, including natural and man-made problems.

Each year, a water allotment is diverted into McAllister Lake from the Storrie Lake Project, but this year personnel changes in the Department caused a miscommunication and no water was requested from the Storrie Lakes Water Users to be released into the lake. Lower than usual water levels meant that warmer summer days quickly made warmer water. However, biologists said that even with the additional water, a fish kill may have occurred this year.

One reason trout have thrived in McAllister Lake is an elaborate aeration system installed in 1989, designed to provide enough dissolved oxygen to avoid frequent fish die-offs during hot summer months. The system of air pumps and hundreds of feet of tubing continually stirs the lake and keeps the oxygen levels high enough for trout survival.

To protect the aeration system’s tubing, the Department of Game and Fish does not allow boat anchors in the lake. However, year after year biologists find the tubing pulled and tangled by anchors. On shore, all-terrain vehicles damaged the system lines, and rodents infested the aeration pump house. Replacing the system is an expensive effort that could be damaged again by a few illegally-placed boat anchors.

This year, the Department also began receiving complaints about too many carp in McAllister Lake. Anglers reported that they were catching nothing but carp. Biologists found that the carp not only were an irritation to some anglers but also apparently were contributing to a decline in the aquatic vegetation. The vegetation acts as habitat for smaller fish, filters the water, and helps improve the water’s clarity. The Department removed four hundred carp from the lake this year, but huge numbers remain.
Any effort to remove carp from the lake will be addressed in a step-wise approach that could include netting, fish toxicants, and allowing the lake to dry.

McAllister Lake has been a very popular fishing spot for many years. It was stocked with bass and other warm water fish until the late 1940s, when the Department began to stock trout. From 1997 to 2004, the Game and Fish Department estimated angler use from 18,413 to 49,926 visits per year. McAllister has ranked in the top fifty waters statewide for angling use. With proper management and a working aeration system, the lake can provide good growth rates for trout.

Department of Game and Fish biologists and administrators will be working on a plan of action this winter with hopes of making improvements to the lake as soon as possible. Funding and water will be key issues in determining how soon McAllister Lake will be back in the fishing report and producing trout for anglers’ creels.

For more information about McAllister Lake, please contact the Department of Game and Fish Northeast Area Office in Raton at (505) 445-2311.






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