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                                                                                                                        VOL. 52, NO. 2 — Fall 2007

Hunting forecasts

Welcome moisture improves wild-
                                   DAN WILLIAMS

                                                  Dying to meet you
life habitat, hunting prospects
across New Mexico.

Please see Page 6.

 6. Fishing survey
 Anglers prefer catch-and-release.

 7. Youth hunts
 More opportunities than ever.

 8. Jack of hares
 New Mexico is home to three species
 of jack rabbits.

 11. Open Gate
 Program gains hunting access.

 12. Fat chance for weather
 Find the forecast in bear grease.

  2.   game&fish news
                                                                                                                                           Photo: Clint Henson
  —    Trout in the Classroom
                                                  People who plant apple trees in bear country can expect company when the fruit ripens in late summer.
  —    Outdoor Expo draws 2,000
       Falcons hatch young in 1st year
       Fishing opens for Gila trout
       and much more …
                                                  Our food is bad news for bears, lions
                                                  By Dan Williams

  6.   Hunting by region
                                                        he stories never end in New Mexico
  —    Northwest looking good
                                                        and across the western states:
  —    Gila elk bigger than ever
  —    More deer in northeast
                                                     • Bear finds garbage, birdfeeder or
  —    Moisture helps southeast herds
                                                        camper's pic-a-nic basket. Bear dies.
                                                     • Mountain lion on the outskirts of town
       Silvery success                                  makes easy meals of house cats, small
  — Partners band together to save                      dogs and pygmy goats. Lion dies.
 a minnow
                                                  Through July of this year, at least 22
                                                  bears and three cougars were killed a�er
                                                  Department of Game and Fish officers
            A publication                         determined they were public safety threats.                                               Photo: Nick Smith
              devoted                             In fiscal year 2006-07, 19 bears and seven           Hungry mountain lions pressured by human de-
       to the enjoyment and                                                                           velopment and other lions often find trouble when
                                                  cougars met the same fate.                          they start snacking on house cats and other pets.
           appreciation of
        New Mexico wildlife.
                                                  "When it gets to the point that the bears or        It's been a busy summer for conservation
                                                  lions are chronic problems and lose their           officers across New Mexico. Despite
                                                  fear of humans, we really have no choice,"          a good snowpack and wet spring that
                                                  said Lief Ahlm, chief of the Department's           encouraged growth of natural foods and
                                                  Northeast Area, which includes the country          prey reproduction, numbers of bear and lion
                                                  around Raton and Las Vegas. Eleven bears            complaints have been above average. Rick
           Published by                           and two cougars were killed in his area             Winslow, the Department's large carnivore
   The New Mexico Department                      through July. Eight more bears died a�er
        of Game and Fish                          being hit by cars.                                                              Continued on Page 13

game&fish news                                                                                                                               NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT
                                                                                                                                              OF GAME AND FISH

Trout in the Classroom a swimming success                                                                                                        Bruce Thompson
By Clint Henson                                                                                                                                     Luke Shelby
                                                                                                                                          Assistant Director for Resources
Raton – Nearly eight months a�er                                                                                                                   Patrick Block
watching an aquarium full of eggs                                                                                                                 Assistant Director
hatch in their aquariums, students at                                                                                                           for Support Services
Columbian Elementary School in Raton
celebrated a successful Trout in the                                                                                                                Mike Sloane
Classroom project by stocking about                                                                                                                    Fisheries
150 fish in nearby Lake Maloya.                                                                                                                    R. J. Kirkpatrick
                                                                                                                                                Wildlife Management
Students, parents, teachers and                                                                                                                     Dan Brooks
Department of Game and Fish officers                                                                                                                Law Enforcement
gathered April 28 to conclude the
                                                                                                                                                  Martin Frentzel
project. With wonderful, warm weather
                                                                                                                                          Public Information and Outreach
and calm waters, each child took a few
fish, tempering them ever so gently to                                                                                                              Carlos Valdez
acclimate them to their new home, then                                                                                                         Administrative Services
watched them swim away.                                                                                                                            Shirley Baker
                                                                                                                                                  Human Resources
Danny Cummings, speech therapist at                                                                                                                Robert McGee
Columbian Elementary, learned about                                                                                                             Information Services
the Trout in the Classroom project about
a year ago, and asked if any teachers                                                                                                           AREA SUPERVISORS
would be willing to host an aquarium                                                                                                            Luis Rios / Las Cruces
to raise trout eggs. Lisa Sanchez’s                                                                                                               Lief Ahlm / Raton
second-grade class and Eva Chavez’s                                                                                                              Roy Hayes / Roswell
third-grade class volunteered to make
                                                                                                                   Photo: Clint Henson       Brian Gleadle / Albuquerque
room for the 55-gallon aquariums.
Columbian Elementary received a grant       Fisheries biologist Eric Frey prepares a bag of fingerling trout so they
from Public Service Company of New          can be stocked in Lake Maloya by students from Columbian Elementary                             STATE GAME COMMISSION
Mexico to purchase their own aquarium       School in Raton.                                                                               Alfredo Montoya, Chairman
that will stay at the school. The New                                                                                                                 Alcalde
Mexico Department of Game and Fish          and fish biology. Only about 5 percent        fishing opportunities to anglers all over          Tom Arvas, Vice-Chairman
supported the project by supplying a        of the original 3,000 eggs survived to       the state. Now, thanks to the children                    Albuquerque
second aquarium and trout eggs.             be released into Lake Maloya. This was       of Raton, a few more fish are available
                                            an important lesson about how fish lay        to the public. Several other schools in                    Leo Sims
Students were able to track the growth      thousands of eggs only to have a very        New Mexico have shown interest in the                         Hobbs
of the fish from eggs to release. They       few grow to adults.                          project, and soon many other children                    Sandy Buffett
monitored the water temperature,                                                         will have this opportunity to learn                         Santa Fe
pH, and made sure that all the pumps        A�er the fish had been released, several      about fisheries management.                           M. H. “Dutch” Salmon
and filters were working every day.          children stayed at the lake to fish. The                                                                  Silver City
Cummings and officers from the Game           Department supplied rods and bait and        For more information about Trout in
and Fish Department gave several            some helpful hints. The program also         the Classroom, please contact Colleen                    Jim McClintic
presentations to the classes about          showed how the Department raises             Welch at (505) 476-8119 or colleen.                       Albuquerque
fisheries management, water quality          millions of fish each year to provide                                        Terry Riley
Fun for families:
                                                                                                                                          Providing New Mexico
5th Outdoor Expo                                                                                                                              and its wildlife
attracts 2,000 people                                                                                                                       Year-round
Cold temperatures, wind and even a
bout of snow were no match for the                                                                                                          E xcellent
enthusiasm at this year’s New Mexico
Outdoor Expo at the Albuquerque                                                                                                             S ervices
Shooting Range Park.

About 2,000 participants, mostly                                                                                                            NEW MEXICO WILDLIFE is published by the
families, turned out to test their skills                                                                                                Public Information and Outreach Division,
at shooting, archery, casting, climbing                                                                                                  New Mexico Department of Game and
and the always popular catfish pond.                                                                                                      Fish.
Educational displays in the range’s                                                                                                         Contact NEW MEXICO WILDLIFE for permis-
                                                                                                                                         sion to reprint artwork, photographs or
large new building drew large crowds,
especially when the weather got nasty.
                                                                                                                                            Printed by Target Graphics, Chattanooga,
                                                                                                                                         Tenn., under contract with the State of
A flurry on Saturday tested participants’                                                                                                 New Mexico. Printed in the U.S.
                                                                                                                   Photo: Ross Morgan
me�le -- and the anglers showed who
were the most determined. While the         Fisheries biologist Shawn Denny watches one of his pupils cast at the
archery and muzzleloader instructors        clouds during the annual New Mexico Outdoor Expo.                                             Volume 52, Number 2
ran for cover, children and volunteers
at the casting station held their ground,   given us a great start today,” a father of   and shooting sports,” said Mark
tossing plugs into the chilly wind, sleet   three said a�er a full day of activities.    Birkhauser, the Department’s hunter                        Lance Cherry
and dust.                                                                                education coordinator. “It’s free, it’s fun,            Chief of Publications
                                            The New Mexico Department of                 and best of all it gets people involved
The free event is one of the                Game and Fish and co-sponsor City of         in recreational activities that last a                     Dan J. Williams
Department’s most successful efforts at      Albuquerque are making preparations          lifetime.”                                                     Editor
introducing families to shooting, fishing    for the sixth-annual Outdoor Expo,
and other fun outdoor activities.           which promises to be bigger and be�er        For more information about the Expo                   Letters may be sent to:
                                            than ever.                                   or how to get your children involved                    NEW MEXICO WILDLIFE
“We’ve been struggling to come                                                           in hunter education, please contact the                   P.O. Box 25112
up with ways to get our kids more           “This event is a very effective way to        Department at (505) 222-4722 or visit                Santa Fe, NM 87504-5112
involved in the outdoors, and you’ve        get more families involved in outdoor                          Telephone (505) 476-8004
Watch for roadblocks during 2007-2008 hunting, fishing seasons
 The Department of Game and Fish will       including the U.S. Forest Service,           your local conservation officer, call
conduct roadblocks statewide through        Bureau of Land Management, New               the toll-free Operation Game Thief
March 31, 2008, in an effort to collect      Mexico State Police, and local Sheriff’s      hotline at 1-800-432-GAME (4263), or
harvest data and to apprehend violators     Department officers.                           visit the Department website, www.
of fish and wildlife laws.                                                       Callers can remain
                                            Hunters and anglers may encounter            anonymous and earn rewards for
Department personnel may be assisted        minor delays at the roadblocks.              information leading to charges being
                                                                                                                                                  visit our website:
by other law enforcement agencies,          To report a violation, please contact        filed against wildlife law violators.     

2                                                                                                                                             Volume 52, Number 2
Commission, Nature Conservancy buy property on Gila River
Sensitive species and precious aquatic     agricultural land.                          Department Director Bruce Thompson.
habitat along more than a mile of the                                                  This acquisition is a leveraged
Gila River will be be�er protected         “I am proud of our ability to move          partnership in which the State of New
with the purchase in June of 168 acres     wildlife conservation forward in the        Mexico provided 90 percent of the
through a partnership between the          important Gila River System by using        cost. The Nature Conservancy paid 10
State Game Commission and The              a combination of our conservation           percent and agreed to provide long-
Nature Conservancy.                        statutes and strategic funding for land     term stewardship of the property
                                           protection,” Governor Richardson said.      through a management agreement
The property in the Gila-Cliff Valley,                                                  with the Game Commission.
25 miles northwest of Silver City          “This property is extraordinarily rich
in Grant County, supports critical         biologically,” said Terry Sullivan, state   The property will be adequately
populations of several indigenous fish      director for the Nature Conservancy.        fenced and rested to promote recovery                             Photo: Steve Larese
species, including the federally and       The Gila River Valley is among the few      of riparian vegetation as part of the         Aplomado falcon fledglings
state protected spikedace and loach        undammed rivers in the West, which          stewardship agreement.                        rest in their nest atop a power
minnow. The property also provides         provides for an amazing diversity of                                                      pole on the Armendaris Ranch.
vital habitat for other endemic, rare,     aquatic life.”                              The area will be included in the system
and declining species.
                                           “This is among the few remaining
                                                                                       of state wildlife areas that are managed
                                                                                       for a variety of wildlife conservation
                                                                                                                                     Aplomado falcons
The property was acquired through
provisions of the Natural Lands
                                           places in the Southwest where natural
                                           river processes function, and it is
                                                                                       purposes, including wildlife-associated
                                                                                                                                     successfully raise
Protection Act, which provides             vitally important to protect it,” Game                                                    young in first year
for joint acquisition of unique and        Commission Chairman Alfredo                 The State Game Commission
ecologically significant lands in New       Montoya said.                               has statutory responsibilities for            And then there were 13.
Mexico. The $600,000 purchase used                                                     conserving native wildlife, the habitat
a $5 million special appropriation         The property contains more than             it depends upon, and providing for            A pair of 1-year-old aplomado
for land conservation requested by         50 species and natural communities          human appreciation of those resources.        falcons that were among the first
Governor Bill Richardson during the        that are important globally. “These         The Nature Conservancy is a leading           11 introduced into New Mexico
2005 Legislature. The money is being       species and vegetation communities          international, nonprofit organization          successfully hatched and raised
used to buy land or acquire easements      are featured conservation targets in the    that preserves plants, animals, and           two chicks this summer, surprising
statewide for habitat conservation         Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation         natural communities representing the          biologists who did not expect the
and restoration, and to protect open       Strategy for New Mexico,” said              diversity of life.                            young birds to reproduce for two
                                                                                                                                     years or more.
Downlisting opens
                                             Trout fishing in Santa Fe                                                                “This was a very special event
angling opportunities                                                                                                                that happened under special
                                                                                                                                     circumstances on a special ranch,”
for native Gila trout                                                                                                                said Tom Waddell manager of Ted
Limited angling opportunities for Gila                                                                                               Turner’s Armendaris Ranch where
trout opened July 1, 2007, for the first                                                                                              the first birds were released in
time since 1966 in select streams in                                                                                                 August 2006. “It’s the first time in
southwestern New Mexico, following                                                                                                   history that a pair of aplomado or
the native trout’s downlisting from                                                                                                  peregrine falcons bonded in their
endangered to threatened on the                                                                                                      first year, raised young and fledged
federal and state lists.                                                                                                             them out.”

The new regulations approved by                                                                                                      Waddell said the young parents
the State Game Commission allow                                                                                                      had a lot of help from near-perfect
the Department of Game and Fish to                                                                                                   weather conditions that produced
open select streams that previously                                                                                                  plenty of grass and insects during
have been closed to all fishing.                                                                                                      the spring and summer. The newly
Opportunities and rule changes                                                                                                       fledged falcons hatched in early
include:                                                                                                                             June and had le� the nest atop a
                                                                                                                                     power pole by July.
• Limited angling will be allowed
for Gila trout in Black Canyon Creek                                                                                                 “It has been so wet this year, there
from July 1 through September 30 as                                                                                                  are so many insects the birds are
a Special Trout Water. Fishing will be                                                                                               just stuffed,” Waddell said.
                                                                                                             Photo: Dan Williams
catch-and-release only with artificial
flies or lures and a single barbless          Hundreds of eager anglers turned out for a spring fishing derby on
                                                                                                                                     The falcons introduced to the ranch
hook.                                        the Santa Fe River, made possible by a generous runoff and 500
                                                                                                                                     last year were bred and hatched in
                                             trout stocked by the Department of Game and Fish.
                                                                                                                                     captivity at The Peregrine Fund’s
• Iron Creek will be open for year-                                                                                                  World Center for Birds of Prey in
round angling as a Special Trout Water                                                                                               Boise, Idaho. The introductions
with a two-fish daily limit. Fishing will
be with artificial flies or lures and a      1 millionth silvery minnow released                                                       were made possible through a
                                                                                                                                     partnership with the Peregrine
single barbless hook.                      The one millionth captive-raised                                                          Fund, the New Mexico Department
                                                                                       endangered species while protecting
• Regular trout water rules will apply     silvery minnow was released into            water interests in the area.                  of Game and Fish and the U.S.
to McKenna Creek and Sacaton Creek,        the Rio Grande in May, marking a                                                          Fish and Wildlife Service. More
with no tackle or bait restrictions and    milestone for the Middle Rio Grande         The Fish and Wildlife Service began           aplomado falcons were introduced
a bag limit of five fish per day and no      Endangered Species Act Collaborative        raising minnows in 2001 at its National       this summer on the Armendaris
more than 10 in possession.                Program.                                    Fish Hatchery in Dexter. The City of          ranch, on state and Bureau of Land
                                                                                       Albuquerque Biological Park’s Rearing         Management lands, and on White
• Everyone who fishes in Black Canyon       U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici and U.S.            and Breeding Facility also is a model         Sands Missile Range.
and Iron Creek must have a Gila Trout      Reps. Heather Wilson and Tom                for raising the minnow in a more
Permit along with a valid New Mexico       Udall helped release the historic fish.      natural se�ing. Two new refugia are           Aplomado falcons once were
fishing license. Permits are free and are   Representatives of other program            scheduled to be operational in 2008.          widespread from southern Texas to
available on the “Buy licenses online”     partners, including the New Mexico                                                        eastern Arizona, but by the 1950s
feature of the Department website,         Department of Game and Fish, U.S.           The first releases of Rio Grande               their range was restricted to a few .                 Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau           silvery minnows to augment the wild           areas in Mexico. The Peregrine
                                           of Land Management, landowners,             population began in June 2002 with the        Fund began releasing aplomados
Access to Black Canyon can be              environmental groups and other              release of more than 48,500 minnows           in South Texas in 1993, and in 2006
challenging because of adjacent private    federal, state, city and pueblo             raised from eggs. A total of 418,851          a self-sustaining population was
property. For more information about       governments also released minnows.          minnows were released in 2006. This           established. Since them, the focus
access routes or other details, contact                                                year, an estimated 120,000 minnows            of the release effort has shi�ed to
Anne�e Gomez with the Wilderness           The collaborative was created to            will be released in the Middle Rio            West Texas and New Mexico.
Ranger District, (505) 536-2250.           protect and improve the status of listed    Grande from Angostura to San Acacia.

Department, judge fed-up with littering, other offenses on Pecos River near Carlsbad
CARLSBAD -- Officers from the                down the river on inner tubes.              Carlsbad. The effort involved officers         alcohol violations, 4 off-highway
Department of Game and Fish and            Department officers watched as the            with the Department of Game and             vehicle violations, 5 game and fish
other state and local agencies got         six floaters tossed several cans and a       Fish, State Police, Department of Public    violations, 22 traffic violations and one
serious about enforcing li�ering,          smashed Styrofoam cooler into the           Safety Special Investigations Division,     for drug paraphernalia.
alcohol and wildlife laws this summer,     water. Eddy County Magistrate Henry         and the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office.
concentrating on a party spot on the       Castaneda didn’t approve, and dished                                                    Anyone with information about
Pecos River below Brantley Lake.           out the maximum fines.                       Three people were arrested on alcohol-      game-law violations is encouraged to
                                                                                       related charges, and 4 people were          call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-
In June, five men and one woman             In July, seven people were arrested and     arrested for outstanding warrants or        432-GAME (4263). Callers can remain
collectively paid $3,402 in fines and       57 citations were issued in the Brantley    revoked driver’s licenses. Citations        anonymous and could be eligible for
court costs for li�ering while floating     Wildlife Management Area north of           issued included 17 for li�ering, 8          cash rewards.

                                                                                                                     regional outlook
               Northwest                           Green spring promotes fawn survival
                                                   By Ross Morgan

                                                   Hunting in northwestern New
                                                   Mexico should be good this season,
                                                   thanks to much-needed snow and
                                                   plentiful spring rainfall.

                                                   Because of the welcome moisture,
                                                   the northwest is beginning to see
                                                   habitat improvements. Deer and elk
                                                   should have had plenty of nourishing
                                                   forage to generate good fawn
                                                   survival rates and promote good
                                                   antler growth. Deer and elk hunting
                                                   success rates can change from day
                                                   to day, depending on factors such as
                                                   the weather and hunting pressure,
                                                   but the 2007-2008 forecast looks                                                                         Photo: Dan Williams
                                                   promising.                                Elk had plenty of spring forage in northwestern New Mexico.
                                                                                             with good spring rainfall has been      limit for most antler point restricted
                                                   “If we continue to see plenty of          good for wildlife -- with perhaps one   elk hunts was been changed to one
                                                   rainfall creating a surplus of water      exception.                              mature bull elk.
                                                   holes, hunters should spend less
                                                   time hunting the water holes and          Heavy snow in central New Mexico        Another rules change affecting
                                                   more time on the animals’ feeding         prompted the closure of Antelope        the Northwest Region is that
                                                   trends,” said Bill Taylor, Department     Management Unit 43 near Stanley,        private landowners within Game
                                                   of Game and Fish game manager for         where animals were searching for        Management Units 2A, 2B and
                                                   the Northwest Area. “For best results,    food in three feet of snow.             2C must obtain specially marked
                                                   hunters should get to know the trails                                             applications from the Department
                                                   the deer and elk are utilizing to and     “Large amounts of snowfall can be       office in Albuquerque.
                                                   from their feeding and bedding            very hard on the antelope, especially
                            Photo: Dan Williams    areas.”                                   when it stays cold for long periods     More specific hunting opportunities
    Legal buck                                     The positive outlook is a far cry from
                                                                                             of time and the snow doesn’t melt,      can be obtained by calling the
                                                                                             like in this case,” said Mark Olson,    Department office in Albuquerque at
    The State Game Commission changed              last year, when hunting success was       Antelope Manager for the Northwest      (505) 222-4700. And remember, it is
    bag limits for most deer and elk hunts         negatively affected by dry conditions      Area. Antelope in other areas of the    now mandatory for anyone licensed
    for the upcoming seasons. The antler           statewide. The northwest region           northwest fared much be�er.             to hunt elk, take furbearers, and/or
    point restriction for deer (previously         received li�le to no snow or rainfall,                                            permi�ed to hunt deer, on private or
    at least three points on one side) was         which brought high fire danger             The Department is reminding hunters     public land, to report their harvest.
    changed to one fork-antlered deer for          and prompted fire restrictions.            that the State Game Commission
    most hunts. For more information,              Predominately dry, windy conditions       changed bag limits for most deer and
    please consult the 2007-2008 Big-game          kept the deer and elk at higher           elk hunts for the upcoming seasons.     Ross Morgan is the Department of Game
    Rules and Information Booklet, avail-          elevations for a longer period of time,   The antler point restriction for deer   and Fish public information officer for the
    able at license vendors, Department of         and hunters had a hard time finding        (previously at least three points on    Northwest Area. He can be reached in the
    Game and Fish offices, and online at            them. This year, normal to above          one side) was changed to one fork-      Albuquerque office at (505) 222-4707 or                      average snowfall amounts along            antlered deer for most hunts. The bag

    Look for more trophy elk
    among amazing Gila herd
    By LuAnn Tafoya                               elk resource. The area is known for
                                                  the largest trophies in the state.
    It won’t be long before temperatures
    begin to cool, signaling that it’s time       The Department of Game and Fish is
    to start pulling your hunting gear out        managing the Greater Gila herd for
    of the closet and cleaning those rifles.       quality hunts, with 40 bulls for every
    If you’re looking for a good spot to          100 cows in most game management
    go hunting this fall, southwestern            units. Units included in the Greater
    New Mexico provides a wide variety            Gila include 15, 16A, 16B, 16C, 16D,
    of opportunities. Spring rains have           and 16E. Elk populations in the
    helped a�er some years of drought.            southern portion of the Gila have
    Rivers and springs have been flowing,          lower population densities and
    bringing good sources of food, cover          are managed for optimal hunter
    and water for wildlife.                       opportunity. Approximately 1,000 to
                                                  1,800 elk occupy units 21A, 21B, 22,
    The elk population in the Gila is doing       and 23. Unit 24 contains very few elk
    well. If you were one of the lucky            and efforts have been made to let the
    ones that drew a license this year,           herd recover from past over-harvest.
    opportunities look encouraging. The                                                                                                                      Photo: Ross Morgan
    Greater Gila elk herd is the largest                                                     The elk population in the Gila National Forest has reached 13,000 to
                                                  “Overall, hunters will have a slightly     20,000 and includes some of the largest trophy bulls in New Mexico.
    in New Mexico with 13,000 to 20,000           higher chance of harvesting an animal
    animals -- possibly our most valuable         this year compared to last year,” Silver   Small-game hunting this year should     Quail hunting usually is good
                                                  City District Conservation Officer           be good, says Las Cruces District       following a wet spring, so
                                                  Jon Armijo says. He also reminds            Conservation Officer Richard              opportunities look promising this
                                                  hunters that the bag limit for most        McDonald.                               year, especially in areas around
                                                  antler-point-restricted elk hunts has                                              Deming and Lordsburg.
                                                  been changed to one mature bull elk        “The upcoming dove season looks
                                                  this season. For more information          very promising,” McDonald says.         Conditions o�en change with the
                                                  about rules and regulations, be sure to    “There are always plenty of doves in    wesather, so for the latest updates
                                                  read this year’s Big Game Rules and        the Rio Grande Valley.”                 and hunting suggestions, please
                                                  Information Booklet before your hunt.                                              contact the Department’s Southwest
                                                                                              He reminds hunters to take             Area Office in Las Cruces for updates,
                                                  Deer hunting this year may be              advantage of opportunities for          (505) 532-2100.
                                                  difficult again as the area continues to     Eurasian collared doves, which
                Southwest                         recover from years of drought. With
                                                  deer populations down, hunters can
                                                                                             are plentiful in southwestern New
                                                                                             Mexico. There is no daily bag or
                                                  increase their chances by scouting         possession limit for these doves.       LuAnn Tafoya is the Department public
                                                  before their hunt. Bag limits for deer     Hunters must keep one fully feathered   information officer for the Southwest
                                                  also have changed and a fork-antlered      wing a�ached to every collared dove     Area. She can be reached at (505) 532-
                                                  buck is now legal.                         until the birds are at home.            2106 or

4                                                                                                                                             Volume 52, Number 2
NE wildlife prospers with more moisture
By Clint Henson                                                                                                                        Northeast
With a wet but mostly mild winter
and continued spring moisture,
wildlife populations in northeastern
New Mexico generally have been on
the rise in 2007. Even with severe
snows in December 2006 and early
January 2007, winter-killed wildlife
was not an issue.

Elk numbers have remained steady in
the northeast, with some conservation
officers reporting elk expanding into
unoccupied regions. Areas such as                                                                                                   stable, with the best hunting
the Valle Vidal, and the Colin Neble�                                                                                               opportunities on private land.
and Barker Wildlife Management
                                                                                                                                    The good moisture and mild winter
Areas are seeing an increase in
                                                                                                                                    also has helped small game and
trophy-quality bulls. A few 390-plus
                                                                                                                                    turkeys. Pheasant hunting will be
bull elk were harvested from the
                                                                                                                                    good near Clayton and populations
Valle Vidal during the 2006 hunting
                                                                                                              Photo: Dan Williams   are slowly expanding west. Quail
season. Jason Kline, Cimarron District
                                                                                                                                    seem to be on the increase but are still
Wildlife Officer, is excited about the      After years of decline, mule deer populations appear to be slowly in-
                                          creasing in northeastern New Mexico.                                                      generally found in localized areas.
prospects great elk hunting this fall.
                                                                                                                                    Dove season looks promising with
“Considering the quality of elk is
                                                                                                                                    lots of available water holes. Grouse
already fabulous, I am forecasting
                                          unresponsive to humans. Contact              private-land hunts may still yield           and squirrel season looks great for the
some monsters this year,” he says.
                                          your local conservation officer if you         the best quality bucks. Hunters must         higher elevations as well.
                                          have questions regarding concerns or         draw public-land permits, but they
Some elk have been found sick or          testing for wildlife diseases.               are still able to buy over-the-counter       If you have questions about wildlife
dead from eating locoweed. While                                                       deer licenses with wri�en permission         or hunting regulations, please
this is not uncommon, more cases                                                       from the landowner.                          contact your local conservation
have been found in northeastern           Northeast mule deer numbers are                                                           officer or the Raton Game and Fish
New Mexico than usual. Locoweed           also on the rise, slowly but surely,                                                      Office at (505) 445-2311. If you see
                                                                                       Antelope surveys have shown another
is a�ractive to livestock and wildlife    but populations still hinge on current                                                    a wildlife violation, please contact
                                                                                       steady year of growth a�er many
because it becomes green and matures      wet weather and improving habitat                                                         Operation Game Thief at 1-800-
                                                                                       years of decline. Some units showed a
faster than other plants.                 conditions. Quality bucks are common                                                      432-GAME (4263). Reports will
                                                                                       slight decline, but officers believe that
                                          in most areas, with exceptional                                                           remain anonymous and are eligible
                                                                                       some herds moved during the heavy
With concerns of Chronic Wasting          bucks being seen occasionally. Be�er                                                      for rewards if information leads to
                                                                                       snows. Several years of decreased
Disease spreading from southern New       nutritional habitat and good spring                                                       charges being filed.
                                                                                       hunting pressure have allowed bucks
Mexico and Colorado, all suspicious       hiding cover should allow for another
                                                                                       to mature in certain areas. Quality
wildlife deaths are investigated.         good year for fawns and more growth                                                       Clint Henson is the Department of Game
                                                                                       bucks are being seen all over the
Symptoms of locoweed are similar          and distribution of deer area-wide.                                                       and Fish public information officer for the
to Chronic Wasting Disease. Animals       Public-land hunts for deer should                                                         Northeast Area. He canbe reached at the
become weak and coats become              increase for quality and numbers if                                                       Department office in Raton, (505) 445-
scruffy. They will o�en be alone and       weather pa�erns continue. However,           Bear and lion populations remain             2311 or

Hunters should find lots of opportunities in southeast
By Mark Madsen                            point antler restriction back to a fork-     while others have struggled. The hot,        not concentrated in any given area.
                                          antlered buck should increase hunter         dry summer last year in most areas
The fall hunting forecast for             harvest for this fall.                       of the region drastically reduced            The small-game forecast for
southeastern New Mexico is looking                                                     fawn survival. However, hunters              southeastern New Mexico should
good, thanks to generous winter and       Elk hunting prospects in the                 may see a slight increase in antelope        be excellent for this fall, especially
spring precipitation throughout the       southeast continue to be good to             populations in some areas from good          for doves, quail and pheasants. The
region. Most areas had a good spring      excellent. Overall range conditions          fawn recruitment two years ago.              good winter and spring moisture and
green-up with ample forage and            in the Capitan, White, and southern                                                       subsequently good habitat conditions
plenty of water and cover for big and     Sacramento mountains are by far              “Overall, hunters should see some            have set the stage for excellent
small game species.                       the best they’ve been in years. Elk          good quality bucks this fall,” Area          hunting conditions. Reports of an
                                          numbers continue to be good in               Game Manager Brian Novosak                   early hatch for quail are starting to
Deer hunting could be be�er than the      game management units 34 and 36              said. “Good nutritional spring               come in and there are still lots of
past few years. Fawn survival and         and hunters should see some trophy           forage should result in good horn            mourning and white-winged doves in
recruitment has been good for the         quality bulls this fall in both units.       development for this fall in most            the region. Conditions are excellent
last couple of years, and the overall                                                  areas.”                                      for pheasant throughout the Pecos
deer population has shown a slight        The pronghorn antelope hunting                                                            Valley. Waterfowl hunting should be
increase. More deer, along with the       forecast varies from unit to unit. Some      Southeastern New Mexico has seen a           excellent with lots of feed and water
change of the bag limit from the three-   areas have had good fawn recruitment         significant increase in the number of         being found throughout the valley.
                                                                                       barbary sheep hunters. Many hunters
                                                                                       who weren’t successful in drawing
                                                                                       a public land deer permit bought             Mark Madsen is the Department of Game
                                                                                       barbary sheep licenses, which remain         and Fish public information officer for
                                                                                       over-the-counter. Success rates for last     the Southeast Area. He can be reached in
                                                                                       February were quite good, with lots          the Roswell office at (505) 624-6135 or
                                                                                       of sheep being harvested. Increased
                                                                                       hunter pressure and harvest will
                                                                                       result in an average hunt forecast for
                                                                                       this year.

                                                                                       Javelina populations have increased
                                                                                       throughout southeastern New
                                                                                       Mexico, and hunters can look forward
                                                                                       to increased opportunities with
                                                                                       the opening of several new game
                                                                                       management units. Hunters fortunate
                                                                                       enough to draw a license can now
                                                                                       hunt in units 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, and
                                                                                       34. Carlsbad District Supervisor                Southeast
                                                                                       Bryan Nygren reports, “We are seeing
                                                                 Photo: Dan Williams   javelina in areas where they have not
Hunters may see more antelope with well-developed horns this fall,                     been observed before.” Hunting could
thanks to good winter and spring moisture.                                             be challenging because the javelina are

Angler survey indicates shifting attitudes
                                                 Satisfied N.M. anglers say they prefer
                                                 catch-and-release, wild fish over stockers
                                                 By Dan Williams                             renovations are expected to double the
                                                                                             number of working runways at Lisboa
                                                 More New Mexico anglers prefer              Springs Hatchery in Pecos and reopen
                                                 catch-and-release fishing, and would         the entire Los Ojos Hatchery within the
                                                 rather go a�er wild fish than stockers,      next two years.
                                                 according to an angler satisfaction
                                                 survey completed this year by the           Another somewhat surprising survey
                                                 Department of Game and Fish.                indication was that given a choice,
                                                                                             anglers prefer catching lots of smaller
                                                 The survey, designed to help the            fish over a few large fish, an indication
                                                 Department be�er manage the state’s         Schudlich said ties in with the wild fish
                                                 recreational fisheries resources,            over stockers trend.
                                                 indicated that most anglers were
                                                 satisfied with their fishing experience       “The fish you catch might not be huge
                                                 in the past year. It also indicated that    like the fish from the San Juan, but the
                                                 some a�itudes toward fishing may be          overall experience of catching wild fish
                                                 leaning away from the “take ‘em home        in a beautiful se�ing makes it special,”
                                                 and eat ‘em” approach, a result that        Schudlich said.
                                                 came as a surprise to state fisheries
                                                 officials.                                    Sloane said the survey will help
                                                                                             the Department continue bucking a
                                                 “The preference for catch-and-release,      declining national trend in fishing
                                                 and wild fish over stockers is contrary      license sales. While license sales have
                                                 to everything I’ve thought and heard        declined in New Mexico over the past
                                                 about New Mexico anglers,” said             six years, it hasn’t been as dramatic the
                                                 Mike Sloane, chief of fisheries for the      12 percent drop nationwide.
                                                 Department. “It’s been a while since
                                                 we’ve asked anglers these questions.        “We’re just not seeing the steady
                                                 We need to monitor these trends in case     decline as in other areas of the
                                                 we need to change our management            country,” Sloane said. “Instead, our
                                                 strategies based on public interest.”       fluctuations in license sales appear to
                                                                                             follow the state’s water levels. When
                                                 According to the survey, 55 percent         we have good water years, we sell
                                                 of New Mexico’s more than 300,000           more licenses.”
                                                 anglers prefer to catch and release
                                                 most of the fish they catch, while 30        Some other angler survey highlights:
                                                 percent like to keep most of their fish.
                                                 The survey also said that 56 percent            •   25 percent said they caught a
                                                 of the state’s anglers choose their                 lot of fish during the past year;
                                                 fishing location based on opportunities              16 percent said they didn't
                                                 to catch wild fish, as opposed to 22                 catch many fish; and 8 percent
                                                 percent who prefer to fish in waters                 said they didn't catch any fish.
                                                 that recently have been stocked.
                                                                                                 •   35 percent said they usually
                                                 “I was impressed with how many                      choose their fishing location
                                                 people are looking for wild fisheries,”              based on scenery; and 31
                                                 said Bill Schudlich, president of                   percent look for a spot close to
                                                 the New Mexico Chapter of Trout                     home.
                                                 Unlimited. “We work on habitat
                                                 restoration for mostly wild fisheries, so        •   23 percent of anglers said they
                                                 this survey tells me what we’re doing is            go fishing three to five times a
                                                 important and on track.”                            year; 19 percent said they fish
                                                                                                     one or two days a year; and
                                                 The survey by Research & Polling Inc.               20 percent said they fish more
                                                 included telephone interviews of 317                than 20 days a year.
                                                 resident anglers and 100 nonresident
                                                 anglers who purchased fishing licenses           •   88 percent of anglers who
                                                 in 2006. Interviews were conducted                  responded to the survey were
                                                 April 4-10, 2007. The margin of error               male; 31 percent were age
                                                 was plus or minus 4.8 percent.                      50-64 and 27 percent were age
                                                                                                     16-49; 55 percent were Anglo
                                                 Sixty-one percent of anglers who                    and 32 percent were Hispanic.
                                                 participated in the survey said they
                                                 were satisfied with their fishing             Complete survey results are
                                                 experience in the past year, a significant   available on the Department website,
                                                 increase over the past two years. In
                                                 2006, 55 percent of anglers responding
                                                 to the survey said they were satisfied,
                                                 up from 47 percent in 2005. The
                                                 increases did not surprise Sloane. He
                                                 a�ributed the trend to improving water
                                                 levels and more trout production at the
                                                 state’s six fish hatcheries.

                                                 “When we have good water years,
                                                 people generally have a be�er
                                                 experience when they go fishing,”
                                                 Sloane said. Everyone likes to go
                                                 fishing in nice places, and those places
                                                 are much nicer when there’s plenty of
                                                 water like last year.”

                                                 Trout production was up at New
                                                 Mexico’s fish hatcheries in 2006, as four
                                                 of the state’s six hatcheries continued
                                                 to recover from outbreaks of whirling
                                                 disease and stocked more than 2
                                                 million catchable-sized rainbow trout
                                                 in state waters. Hatchery production
                                                 improved to 85 to 95 percent from
                                                 lows of 70 to 80 percent when many                                 Photo: Martin Frentzel
                                                 runways were closed down for                New Mexico anglers prefer wild
                                                 renovation two years ago. Further           trout and great scenery.
               Charts: Research & Polling Inc.

6                                                                                                    Volume 52, Number 2
                                                    Thumbs-up for youth hunts
                                                    Special opportunities await young hunters statewide
                                                    By Ross Morgan

                                                    I can still vaguely remember waiting to take a
                                                    hunter’s safety course so I could hunt alongside
                                                    my dad instead of being a tag-along. However,
                                                    I will not forget the very first dove I ever shot.
                                                    I shot it out of the air with a bolt-action .410
                                                    shotgun that had been passed down to me by
                                                    my dad. I sure wish I could have seen the look
                                                    on my face that morning.

                                                     Let’s face it, although we enjoy ge�ing out and
                                                    having the opportunity to hunt ourselves, there
                                                    is probably nothing more exciting or rewarding
                                                    than seeing the look on the face of a young boy
                                                    or girl a�er they harvested their first animal.
                                                    Whether it is a rabbit or a deer, the look in their
                                                    eyes is worth a thousand words.

                                                    This year, in an effort to create more youth
                                                    hunting opportunities throughout the state, the
                                                    Department with the approval of the State Game
                              Photo: Dan Williams   Commission created eight more deer hunts, two
Six-year-old Brianna Montoya shows off a            more antelope hunts and three additional turkey
stringer of rainbow trout she helped catch
during the May 19 fishing derby on the               youth hunting opportunities. In addition, the
Santa Fe River.                                     Department continues to offer the popular youth
                                                    pheasant hunts in the northwest and southeast                                          Photo: Robert Livingston

    Kids & fishing:                                  areas of the state.                                   A successful young hunter and Conservation
                                                                                                          Officer Donald Jaramillo gave the youth pheas-
                                                                                                          ant hunt at Casa Colorada Wildlife Manage-
    A parents’ guide                                The new hunts reflect an ongoing Department
                                                    effort to retain and a�ract more youth to hunting
                                                                                                          ment Area two thumbs up.

                                                    as a positive family recreational experience.
There’s nothing quite like a child’s walleyes       This year, the Department is offering 25 special       southeastern portion of the state.
when they catch their first fish. It’s a magic        youth-only hunts for deer, 16 for elk, 6 for          To be eligible for a youth hunting license, each
moment that can lead to a lifetime of fun           antelope, three for spring turkey and one hunt        applicant for any youth only hunt must be
family recreation. Before you gather up the         each for bighorn sheep, ibex, javelina and oryx.      younger than age 18 on the beginning date of
kids and hang out the “Gone Fishin’” sign,          There also are numerous opportunities for youth       the hunt. Youth hunters must provide proof of
here are a few tips that might make your            and their parents or mentors to participate in        successfully passing a hunter education course
outing more successful:                             youth-only and youth-adult small-game hunts           prior to making application or purchasing a
                                                    for waterfowl and pheasants.                          license for a firearm hunt. Youth hunters must
   •   Best age: Most anglers agree that                                                                  carry this proof while hunting in the field with a
       4 or 5 is the best age to start a kid                                                              firearm.
                                                    New, longer deer hunts
       fishing. By then, they have acquired
       the motor skills necessary to cast           Young hunters will have eight more                    Hunter Education courses are offered year-
       and operate a reel.                          opportunities to hunt deer this season, and to        round throughout New Mexico. There is no
   •   Practice: Buy your child his or her          make things even easier, hunting dates were           minimum age requirement to sign up. However,
       own equipment and practice with              extended for some of the hunts to work around         an adult must accompany children younger
       a casting plug in the back yard.             school schedules. These hunts allow youths the        than 11 years old. Students are required to read
       Combination rod-and-reel outfits              opportunity to hunt during three different time        a manual and complete a worksheet before
       are inexpensive and work great. Buy          frames that fall during the school breaks around      class, a�end all class sessions and pass both a
       extra line. There will be tangles.           Thanksgiving and Christmas.                           wri�en test and a firearm proficiency test before
   •   Be the guide: On the first trip or                                                                  becoming certified and receiving a card.
       two, leave your gear in the truck.
                                                    The newly designed extended hunt dates for
       That will give you plenty of time to                                                               Don’t wait until the last minute to register for a
                                                    these new youth hunts -- Nov. 22-25, Dec. 1-2,
       bait hooks, cast, untangle line and                                                                course or you may miss the deadline to apply
                                                    and Dec. 8-9 -- maximize the ability for youths
       unhook fish.                                                                                        for a hunt. For class dates and times, contact
                                                    and their parents to get out and hunt, said
   •   No fish, no fun: Do some research             Barry Hale, Deer Program Manager for the              the Department office closest to you or call the
       and find a spot where the chances             Department and Game and Fish.                         Hunter Education Program in Albuquerque at
       of catching fish are good. Check                                                                    (505) 222-4731, or visit: h�p://www.wildlife.
       out fishing and stocking reports in                                                       
                                                    “Although most hunts are designed to include
       newspapers and on the Department
                                                    at least one weekend during the hunt period,
       of Game and Fish website, www.                                                                     For more information and details about
                                                    these hunts are designed to give the kids an Lakes usually                                                                youth hunting opportunities, please visit the
                                                    opportunity to hunt three weekends,” Hale
       are best at first because they have                                                                 Department Web site, www.wildlife.state.
                                                    said. “This makes it easier for the kids and their
       easy access and fewer snags.                                                             , or check out the 2007-2008 Big Game &
                                                    parents who have to work during the week and
   •   Hook fish, not flesh: Use only one                                                                   Trapper Rules and Information Booklet available
                                                    may only be able to take the kids hunting on the
       hook per line. Pinch off the barbs for                                                              at license vendors or Department of Game
       additional safety.                                                                                 and Fish offices in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Las
   •   Live bait: Minnows and worms are                                                                   Cruces, Raton and Roswell. Look for youth
       tough to beat. Use them to increase
                                                    Mentor-youth antelope hunts                           opportunities for small-game and waterfowl in
       your success.                                                                                      the 2007-2008 Small Game & Waterfowl Rules &
                                                    In addition to the new youth-only hunts, the          Information Booklet, scheduled for publication
   •   Don’t push it: Keep your outing to
                                                    Department, with the input of the State Game          in late August.
       an hour or two at most the first time.
                                                    Commission and the Wildlife Federation,
       If the fish aren’t biting, find another
                                                    created a mentor-youth hunt for pronghorn
       activity to keep it fun. Visit the
                                                    antelope. The mentor-youth hunt is a draw
       marina, look for bugs. If the fish are
                                                    hunt consisting of one adult age 18 or older and      Ross Morgan is the Department of Game and Fish
       biting, try to leave before they stop.
                                                    up to three youths younger than age 18 on the         public information officer for the Northwest Area. He
       Your young angler will be eager to
                                                    opening day of the hunt. This hunt is available       can be reached in Albuquerque at (505) 222-4707 or
                                                    for Antelope Management Unit 29 in the      

Jack of hares
New Mexico is home to 3 species of jack rabbits
By M.H. “Dutch” Salmon
                                                                                                                               Fun to hunt,

      have always been fascinated
      by the remarkable biological                                                                                             good to eat
      diversity of New Mexico.                                                                                            Jack rabbits are great sport
For example, the ptarmigan, a                                                                                             with rifle, handgun, and
game bird with a “far north”                                                                                              shotgun, as well as running
aura, can be found in sca�ered                                                                                            dogs. I like to hunt them
populations within the higher                                                                                             with the .22 WMR cartridge
peaks of north central New                                                                                                myself, either rifle or
Mexico. At the other extreme, the                                                                                         revolver. But we need to get
“Mexican” (common) black hawk                                                                                             beyond the notion that all
summers and breeds in limited                                                                                             these hares are good for is
numbers north of Mexico, along                                                                                            sighting in your gun. Jacks
portions of New Mexico’s Gila                                                                                             are a good game animal,
and San Francisco Rivers.                                                                                                 regardless of their “non-
                                                                                                                          game” status, and hunters
In the Gila National Forest                                                                                               should not be killing them
you may see a beaver and a                                                                                                just to leave them in the field.
coatimundi on the same day; an                                                                                            Here’s a jack rabbit recipe
elk and a javelina on the same                                                                                            that works for me.
hillside. And I once caught a
brown trout and a flathead                                                                                                    Jack rabbit posole
catfish out of the same pool of
the Gila River. Granted, neither                                                                                          The best meat is on the hind
is native to the Gila, but I was                                                                                          legs (the dark red meat along
astounded that two such different                                                                                          the back is great catfish bait)
fish could be self-sustaining in                                                                                           and the hind legs alone have
the same river.                                                                                                           more meat than a whole
But perhaps our most notable
display of biological diversity can                                                                                       Cut meat into small pieces
be found in our various hares,                                                                                            and soak overnight in the
where we alone among the 50                                                                                               fridge in a bowl of water
states sport three species of jack                                                                                        with a teaspoon of salt.
rabbits, plus the snowshoe hare.
Let’s have a look at where and                                                                                            To cook, sauté in olive oil
how they live, and see how they                                                                                           with onions. Add a couple of
run!                                                                                                                      cans of hominy. Add red chili
                                                                                                                          powder or fresh green chili,
In New Mexico, jack rabbits are                                                                                           as you like it. Season to taste
largely taken for granted. Like                                                                                           with salt, pepper, garlic and
ravens, we see them around a                                                                                              oregano. Simmer at least two
lot but don’t really notice them                                                                                          hours till meat is tender. And
much. Hardly anyone remarks,                                                                                              a crock pot does wonders for
                                                                                                         Photo: Don MacCarter
“Hey, I saw a jack rabbit today!” Black-tailed jack rabbits' enormous ears allow blood to flow close to the surface of     any tough meat.
When jack rabbits do get noticed, their skin, acting as a cooling mechanism and helping them survive the desert heat.
the reference is usually negative.
They get into our gardens and                        rabbit is a hare. The most sensible explanation       and the species will average 5 to 8 pounds, at
eat the crops. They girdle our fruit trees. They     I’ve heard for the name “jack rabbit” is this         least twice the size of most co�ontail rabbits.
compete with livestock out on the range (It is       one: The striking long ears of this hare caused       The black-tailed jack has a very broad range in
said that seven jack rabbits will eat as much        the descriptive moniker, “jack-ass rabbit,” later     New Mexico, from open grasslands through the
forage as a sheep). They lead our bird dogs off       shortened to jack rabbit.                             mesquite/creosote brush country and pinon/
on merry and futile chases when the dogs are                                                               juniper woodlands -- everywhere but the most
supposed to be hunting quail. In turn, jacks are     There are four species of jack rabbit in North        heavily forested regions.
hard to hit, almost impossible to catch, and are     America, three of which reside in New Mexico.
usually considered too tough to eat. And they        The most common is the black-tailed jack rabbit       On the northern plains, from the Canadian
breed like, well, rabbits.                           (Lepus californicus). The black stripe down the       prairies and extending south to the open sage
                                                     top of the tail is descriptive. The coat is mostly    plains of Rio Arriba and Taos counties in New
Well, anything can be troublesome if they get        grey flecked with black (excellent camouflage),         Mexico, is the white-tailed jack rabbit (Lepus
too numerous, including people. Still, I mark        the ears are 6 to 7 inches long and black-tipped,     townsendi). This hare has shorter ears than the
the jack rabbit down as a neat cri�er, uniquely
talented and interesting, even if they are
common as dog tracks.

First of all, despite the name, jack rabbits aren’t
rabbits at all; they’re hares. The gestation period
of a rabbit is about 30 days. Hares hold their
young 7 to 10 days longer. And while rabbit           White-tailed jack rabbits
young are born bald, blind, and helpless, a just-     are capable of reaching
born hare is already in fur, eyes open, and the       speeds of more than 40
li�le leveret can hop around. Rabbits and hares       mph, and keeping the pace
                                                      long enough to outdistance
are both largely nocturnal, but a rabbit, such as     even the fastest grey-
the co�ontail, likes cover; they live in burrows      hounds.
or brush piles and when pursued hard they look
for cover or a hole to provide an escape. Hares
spend their entire lives on top of the ground,             Photo: M.H. "Dutch" Salmon
hooding up in a “form” -- a mere depression
in the grass -- when they’re not out feeding
or moving about. Flushed by a coyote, fox, or
greyhound, a hare will a�empt to outrun rather
than hide from the predator.
By any or all of the above determinants, the jack

8                                                                                                                            Volume 52, Number 2
black-tailed (a hare’s ears dissipate heat, so
New Mexico jacks have longer ears than North
Dakota jacks), and a white rather than a black                             Hares of New Mexico
tail. In winter, their pelage will turn white or
pale gray, like a snowshoe hare’s. White-tails on                        Black-tailed jack rabbit (Lepus californicus)
average are bigger than black-tails, weighing           Habitat: Common throughout New Mexico. Able
roughly 6 to 10 pounds.                                 to live in some of the ho�est, driest regions, sur-
                                                        viving on poor-quality foods and ge�ing water it
In extreme southern Hidalgo County is a rare            needs from food.
hare (at least in New Mexico): the white-sided          Behavior: Mostly nocturnal. Tremendous leapers,
jack rabbit (Lepus callotis). It looks much like a      able to jump more than 20 feet horizontally. They
black-tailed jack, except for the flash of white         live in some of the ho�est and driest regions of
fur on its sides and hips. While common farther         the continent, can survive on poor-quality foods,
south in Mexico, the white-sided jack is scarce         and get most or all of the water they need from
north of the border. Its range in the United States     their food. They cope with extreme heat by resting
                                                        in the shade during the day. Enormous ears are a
is limited to the Animas Valley, and it is fully        cooling mechanism where blood flows close to the
protected as a state threatened species.                skin.
The largest and most spectacular North                  Diet: Creosote-bush and green vegetation when it
American jack rabbit resides nearby in south-           can find some.
central Arizona and farther south in Sonora,            Average size: 18-25 inches long, 2.8-7.3 pounds.
Mexico. Like our Hidalgo County hare, the
antelope jack rabbit (Lepus alleni) flashes a white                        White-tailed jack rabbit (Lepus townsendi)
coat on its sides and hips when the cri�er is
                                                        Habitat: A broad range of elevations, from 131
disturbed or in flight. But this hare is bigger --       to 14,000 feet, moving to higher elevations when
head and body some two feet long, ears up to 9          competing with smaller black-tailed jack rabbits.
inches long without any black on the tips, and a
weight of 8 to 12 pounds. Further, they like the        Behavior: Very solitary, interacting only briefly
Sonoran brush country and avoid open terrain,           during the breeding season. A female may pro-
while New Mexico’s white-sided hare -- quite            duce one to four li�ers of four to five young each
the opposite -- limits itself to open Chihuahuan        year.
                                                        Diet: Grasses, green forbs, and shrubs during the
I used to hunt snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus)        winter.
with Basset hounds in the conifer forests of
                                                        Average size: Males, 23 inches, 7.5 pounds. Fe-
northern Minnesota. Incredibly, the same hare           males, 24 inches, 7.9 pounds.
can be found in the high forested terrain of
New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo and San Juan                                  White-sided jack rabbit (Lepus callotis)
Mountains. And you can hunt these 3- to 5-              Habitat: Prefers level ground to hills, and does not
pound. hares in these mountains, with beagles           require shrubs for cover, but uses clumps or dense
and Bassets, just like I did in Minnesota.              stands of grass. In New Mexico, limited to the ex-
                                                        treme southern border with Mexico, more common
                                                        in the Animas Valley.
As Aesop knew when he matched a tortoise
against a hare, you can’t talk about hares              Behavior: Form male-female pairs, and the male
without talking about speed. The hare the               will defend the pair from other males. Breeding
greyhound chases at the race track is artificial,        season runs from mid-April to mid-August, with
                                                        one to four offspring in a li�er. Predators include
but the one out in the field is real. By knowing         eagles, hawks, owls, foxes and coyotes.
something of greyhound speed, one can infer the
speed of a jack rabbit.                                 Diet: Grass.

At a track in Tucson, the greyhound “Whisk              Average size: Males, 21 inches, 4 pounds. Females,
Action” covered 335 yards in 17 seconds flat,            22 inches, 6.4 pounds.
an average speed of 40.5 mph. That’s from
a standing start and around a curve. Good                                      Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus)
greyhounds commonly break 30 seconds for                Habitat: Northern swamps, hardwood and mixed
550 yards (nearly 40 mph) and have been                 evergreen forests from coast to coast. Limited to far
chronographed at an a�ained speed of 50 mph             northern New Mexico.
coming down the first straightaway. Take such
hounds to the open field, flush a jack rabbit, and        Behavior: Mostly nocturnal, remaining hidden in
what happens?                                           vegetation until sundown. Two to five li�ers a year,
                                                        with one to eight offspring. Color changes from
                                                        brown in summer to white in winter for camou-
Usually, the hound is able to overtake the hare         flage. Large feet are padded with dense spiraling
one or more times, forcing the jack to change           hairs that act as springs.
direction in order to escape, indicating the
superior speed of the hound. More o�en than             Diet: Grasses and shrubs.
not, in the ensuing high-speed chase, the jack
is able to elude the hounds with a myriad of            Average size: 18 inches; 3 pounds.
high-speed maneuvers until the hounds begin                                                                                              Graphics: Smithsonian Institute
to tighten up (usually inside of a mile). At that
point the hare is once more able to straighten out
                                                      into a sprint, stringing the pack out and leaving         hare are considered “non-game” animals. This
                                                      them behind.                                              does not mean you can’t hunt them. Quite
                                                                                                                the opposite. With the exception of the white-
                                                      At times, however, one encounters some                    sided jack rabbit, which is protected, you
                                                      remarkable jack rabbits. I have seen both black-          can hunt hares however and whenever -- no
                                                      tailed and white-tailed jacks start up not 10             closed season, no bag limit, and New Mexico
                                                      yards in front of greyhounds of proven speed --           residents don’t even need a hunting license. The
                                                      fresh, healthy hounds on good running ground              jack rabbit is so prolific and so adaptable, it is
                                                      -- and literally run away from them. These hares          virtually immune to hunting pressure.
                                                      beat greyhounds at a straightaway sprint!
                                                                                                                The jack rabbit is a remarkable cri�er, and in
                                                      I have been running jack rabbits with                     New Mexico we are blessed with an unusual
                                                      greyhounds, salukis, and other sighthounds                variety of swi� hares. Their presence is a tribute
                                                      since 1969. It is clear to me that the best jack          to our biological diversity. They are “game”
                                                      rabbits are capable of an a�ained speed of at             and as well serve as the principal prey base
                                                      least 40 mph, and of maintaining that speed               for coyotes, bobcats, and several of our large,
                                                      for a longer distance than a coursing hound.              important raptors. I hope the next time you see
                                                      That a hare is capable of outrunning a specially          one you’ll say, “Hey, I saw a jack rabbit today!”
                                                      bred dog like the greyhound, a quadruped 6
                                                      to 10 times its size, is surely one of the most
                                                      remarkable feats in the realm of natural history.         M.H. “Dutch” Salmon of Silver City is an
                                                                                                                accomplished outdoor writer, book author and editor,
                                                      In New Mexico, the jack rabbit and snowshoe               and a member of the State Game Commission.

More hunters
prefer online
By Dan Williams

The New Mexico Department of Game and
Fish received almost 163,000 applications for
59,000 hunting opportunities in the drawing for
2007-2008 deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep,
ibex and javelina hunts. Almost 70 percent of
those applications were submi�ed through the
Department website, an all-time high since the
online process was first offered three years ago.

Application numbers have grown steadily the
past three years, from 145,126 in 2005-2006 to
almost 163,000 for this year’s drawing for 2007-
2008 hunts.
The number of online applicants also increased
in the past three years, from 54 percent to almost
70 percent.                                                                                                                                 Photo: Don MacCarter
                                                     The two largest desert bighorn rams harvested in North America were taken in New Mexico,
Hunters who use the online application process       making the state's single public hunting permit one of the most coveted in the world.
pay a $6 fee with a credit card at the time of
application. They are charged for the license                                                             sheep, ibex and javelina:
only if they are successful in the drawing.          This year, the drawing for the desert bighorn
Hunters who use paper applications must pay          license a�racted 3,315 applicants, up from 2,862
                                                     for the 2006-2007 hunt. Licenses cost $159 for       Deer: There were 62,652 applications for 34,814
the entire license fee with their application, and                                                        available hunts, and 32,285 permits were issued.
will receive a refund check about four months        New Mexico residents, $3,166 for nonresidents.
                                                     Unlike deer, elk, and antelope licenses, the         The extra hunts, mostly less-popular bow-
later if they are not successful.                                                                         only hunts, will be offered in a special online
                                                     drawing for bighorn licenses is not subject to
                                                     the quota system that requires 78 percent of the     drawing.
“Most hunters consider the online process more       licenses go to state residents.
convenient, and they don’t have to wait for a                                                             Elk: There were 20,167 licenses available and
refund if they are unsuccessful,” Department         “You can see why applying online for a bighorn       20,110 issued. There were 66,706 applicants. The
Assistant Director Patrick Block said. “It also      license is more appealing to nonresidents when       remaining licenses will be offered in a special
gives hunters the option of changing their           they can do it for $6 instead of writing a check     online sale.
applications before the drawings, and it saves       for more than three thousand dollars,” said
the state time and money because we don’t have       Eric Rominger, the Department’s bighorn sheep        Antelope: All 1,658 available licenses were
to issue refund checks.”                             biologist.                                           issued. There were 17,768 applicants.

Not having to put money up front also                This year, desert bighorn applicants’ $6 fees        Bighorn sheep: All 18 available licenses were
encourages more hunters to apply for species         totaled $19,890. The winner of the drawing, a        issued. There were 8,451 applicants.
and opportunities they might previously have         Californian, paid $3,166 for his license, bringing
passed up. A good example of that is the desert      the total generated from a single bighorn license    Ibex: All 175 available licenses were issued.
bighorn sheep hunt, which has perhaps the            to $23,056.                                          There were 4,231 licenses issued.
highest odds for a hunt drawing in the country.
New Mexico offers only one public drawing             Here are some other highlights from the 2007-        Javelina: All 2,005 available licenses were
license for desert bighorn sheep each year.          2008 drawing for antelope, deer, elk, bighorn        issued. There were 3,170 applicants.

New licenses will give hunters more options, raise money for wildlife
By Mark Gruber                                       authorizations and 12 game-bird or trophy fish        whether they were drawn for a public land deer
                                                     authorizations each year. The authorizations         permit. Hunters who have General Hunting
The 2007 New Mexico Legislature passed and           will be auctioned at special events called by        and Fishing Licenses and are unsuccessful in
Governor Bill Richardson signed several bills        the governor. For more information about             the deer permit drawing can use the license
that positively affect hunters and anglers in         these special authorizations, please contact the     only to purchase permits for hunting on private
New Mexico. The legislation created new license      Department’s Wildlife Management Division at         land -- if they have wri�en permission from the
types, added reduced-fee licenses, and created       (505) 476-8038.                                      landowner. No refunds will be granted.
two new license packages. Hunters and anglers
can look for these changes to begin during the       New licenses, reduced fees                           Resident Junior/Senior Fishing and Small
2008-2009 license year.                                                                                   Game Combination License: This license
                                                     Three new license types will give hunters and        promotes youth hunting for small game
Grand Slams                                          anglers more choices and avoid conflicts with         and waterfowl and fishing by offering these
Some of New Mexico’s best fund-raising efforts        the drawing for deer hunting permits.                opportunities at a discounted price. The same
for wildlife conservation have been through                                                               license is available to older residents at a
public auctions and raffles of special hunting         Resident Fishing and Small-Game                      discount. It can be purchased by a resident
opportunities for bighorn sheep and elk. The         Combination License: This new license is             younger than 18 years or older than 65 years,
2007 legislation will allow the Department to        similar to the General Hunting and Fishing           and entitles them to fish for game fish or hunt
expand those opportunities with the creation of      License, without the deer license a�ached. It was    for squirrel and game birds (except turkeys)
two Grand Slam permits that will be auctioned        created to allow hunters and anglers to purchase     during the open seasons for each species. The
each year to the highest bidder. The Grand           a combination license early in the season            annual Resident Junior/Senior Fishing and
Slam packages will allow hunters to take a           without having to gamble on being successful         Small Game Combination License fee is $16.00,
combination of one elk, one oryx, one ibex, one      in the drawing for deer permits. The new             a significant savings from the $25-$28 cost of
deer and one antelope. Funds collected will be       license entitles a resident to hunt squirrels and    fishing and small game licenses purchased
used to enhance, conserve and protect big-game       game birds (except turkeys) and to fish during        separately.
habitat statewide. Details about the auctions will   the open seasons for each species. The annual
be announced soon.                                   Resident Small Game and Fishing Combination          Resident Junior/Senior Deer License: A third
                                                     License will sell for $33.00. A small game           new license type will allow youths and seniors
Governor’s Authorizations                            license and an annual fishing license purchased       to purchase a discounted deer license similar to
                                                     separately would cost $45. A resident deer           the Junior/Senior Elk License. This license may
Governor Bill Richardson signed a bill that will     license costs $39.                                   be purchased by residents younger than age 18
raise more money for wildlife conservation                                                                or older than 65. It will allow residents who are
through special auctions for trophy hunting          The General Hunting and Fishing License is           successful in the permit drawing to hunt for deer
and fishing. The legislation allows the governor      still available for $62. However, hunters are        during the open season. The annual Resident
to make available up to 12 big-game special          encouraged not to purchase one until they know       Junior/Senior Deer License fee is $24.00.

10                                                                                                                            Volume 52, Number 2
Program opens private lands to public
Landowners earn cash
on public access leases
for wildlife recreation                                                                                                           Private landowners
                                                                                                                                  who particpate in the
                                                                                                                                  Open Gate Program
                                                                                                                                  are paid $1 an acre
By Kerry Guiseppe                                                                                                                 and $500 per water
                                                                                                                                  source annually for
A new program coordinated by the New Mexico                                                                                       granting access leases
Department of Game and Fish is opening new                                                                                        to their property for
opportunities for hunters and anglers by leasing                                                                                  hunting, fishing and
private lands and unlocking gates.                                                                                                other wildlife-associat-
                                                                                                                                  ed recreation, and for
                                                                                                                                  access to landlocked
The Open Gate: Hunting and Fishing Access                                                                                         public lands.
Program is designed to open access to more of
the approximately 45 percent of New Mexico
that is privately owned. By leasing private
property access, the Department hopes to                                                                                          Photo: Dan Williams
expand hunting, fishing and other wildlife-
related recreational opportunities on private
lands and on public lands that formerly were
“land-locked” because they are surrounded by
private land.

“Access programs like Open Gate are
becoming increasingly popular in the West as
a win-win solution to increase public hunting
opportunities,” said Jeremy Vesbach, Director of   Landowners can participate in the Open Gate
the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. “Montana       Program in three ways:
pioneered the concept 20 years ago and has
opened 9 million acres of private lands for           •   Leasing their property for either an
public recreation. With Governor Richardson’s             entire year’s worth of activities or for a
continued support, I’m confident we’ll see Open            specific season such as waterfowl, turkey
Gate expand our hunting opportunities in New              or fishing. Properties are evaluated by a
Mexico as well.”                                          district conservation officer for suitability
                                                          of inclusion in the program.                     li�er or damage to my property from hunter use.
                                                                                                           I signed up to make money by utilizing all of the
Access opportunities for the 2006-2007 season         •   Granting access to landlocked public             resources on my property and I hope the Game
included more than 26,000 acres for dove, quail,          land through their property. This type           and Fish Department has go�en their money’s
waterfowl, and deer hunting. Landowners have              of access usually will be negotiated as a        worth.”
enrolled more than 27,611 acres in the program            long-term easement. The Department
for the 2007-2008 season, and the Department              will appraise the property and negotiate         As Open Gate gains popularity, public hunters,
hopes to add more opportunities such as                   a fair price for the easement.                   anglers and wildlife watchers will be called
turkey and oryx hunting, fishing, and wildlife                                                              upon to hold up their end of the deal by
watching.                                             •   Providing access when there is a                 following the rules and respecting landowners'
                                                          unique potential for wildlife viewing            property. This will be critical to the program's
                                                          on their property that would enable              future. Enrollment by landowners is voluntary
Habitat validation pays off                                a Gaining Access into Nature (GAIN)              and experiences will directly affect public access
                                                          opportunity to be organized by the               in subsequent years. Everyone who uses these
Funding for Open Gate is from the State’s $4              Department. This could be a once-a-              properties is urged to obey all state and federal
Habitat Management and Access Validation,                 year opportunity or could encompass              laws, and to be considerate and respectful
which is required for buyers of hunting and               numerous viewing options such as elk             of landowners, their neighbors and other
fishing licenses. Fees paid to landowners begin            bugling and bird watching.                       recreationists. One bullet hole in a water tank or
at $1 per acre, $500 per water source (tank,                                                               one cut fence may be all it takes for a landowner
pond, river access), or can be negotiated with     “I’ve had a very favorable experience with the          to bail out of the program the following year.
approval by the Department Director. The lease     program,” said Ellio� McMaster, a southeastern
agreements protect landowners from liability       New Mexico landowner who signed up for the
issues, and may help alleviate chronic trespass    program in 2006, offering hunting opportunities
                                                                                                           Information and applications
problems.                                          for waterfowl and quail. “I didn’t find any
                                                                                                            Maps to enrolled properties will be posted on
                                                                                                           the Department website, www.wildlife.state.
                                                                                                 , also will be available at Department
                                                                                                           offices in Santa Fe, Raton, Albuquerque,
                                                                                                           Roswell and Las Cruces. Maps will include
                                                                                                           directions to an access point and other pertinent
                                                                                                           information, including dates and seasons of
                                                                                                           access and whether there is any road access or
                                                                                                           if the property is walk-in only. Maps should be
                                                                                                           available several weeks prior to the start of the
                                                                                                           season and will be updated as more properties

                                                                                                           The deadline for landowner applications
                                                                                                           to participate in the Open Gate Program is
                                                                                                           one month before the start of the season.
                                                                                                           For instance, if you would like to lease your
                                                                                                           property for quail season, your application
                                                                                                           should be submi�ed by Oct. 15.

                                                                                                           To learn more about the Open Gate Program,
                                                                                                           information and forms are available at the Santa
                                                                                                           Fe office, all area offices and on the Department
                                                                                     Photo: Dan Williams   website, Information
More access to private lands through the Open Gate Program will increase hunting opportuni-                also may be obtained from Open Gate
ties for quail and other small-game species throughout New Mexico. As the program grows, the               Coordinator Kerry Guiseppe, (505) 476-8043 or
Department of Game and Fish hopes to expand the program to include more big-game hunting,                  Manager of Private Land Programs Cal Baca,
fishing and wildlife watching activities.                                                                   (505) 476-8044.

forecasts                                                                                                                                         This young black
                                                                                                                                                  bear found the
                                                                                                                                                  weather -- and
Watch the bear grease                                                                                                                             the groceries -- in
                                                                                                                                                  Edgewood to his
for latest on weather                                                                                                                             liking. He was
                                                                                                                                                  tranquilized and
                                                                                                                                                  moved to nearby
By Dan Williams                                                                                                                                   mountains, where
                                                                                                                                                  he could fatten up
While it doesn’t take a weatherman to know                                                                                                        on natural food.
which way the wind blows, we all can use
some help when it comes to predicting what’s
blowing in this winter, or tomorrow for that
ma�er. So when we’re planning a fishing trip or
making reservations for a skiing vacation, most
of us are content listening to highly educated
meteorologists who dazzle us with satellite
                                                                                                                             Photo: Ross Morgan
images, Doppler radar and weather “models.”
Some of us, however, prefer a more natural             grease on the map when he embraced the                    -- following the test of the first atomic bomb. He
approach. Instead of tuning in to AccuDoppler,         technique he learned from George Hightower, a             said he was paid a visit by military officials a�er
we consult our Farmer’s Almanac, fuzzy                 New Mexico Game Warden. Wimsa�’s uncanny                  word got out about his discovery. Apparently,
caterpillars, cow hides or bear grease.                bear-grease weather predictions soon spread               they wanted to know his source of information.
                                                       far and wide -- all the way to the television
Bear grease?                                           networks, where he even won a forecasting duel            Today, Wimsa�’s bear-grease legacy is carried
                                                       with the Good Morning America weatherman.                 on by hundreds of grease-reading disciples
Using rendered bear fat to predict the weather         He became a favorite guest speaker at area                across the country. Many are his relatives, who
has been practiced for hundreds of years,              schools, including the school at the Mescalero            inherited one or more of his jars, some of them
according to a dedicated few who keep the              Apache Reservation.                                       dating back 50 years or more.
tradition alive. Longtime bear grease readers say
the technique was passed down by the Apaches,          Until his death in 1995 at age 80, “The Bear
who observed the fat through deer intestines           Grease Kid” predicted long- and short-term                “The old ones still work great,” says Ron
that were carefully scraped to translucence. The       weather events, from simple cold fronts and               Carpenter, Wimsa�’s son-in-law. He and Gordon
theory is that each pa�ern created by the grease       thunderstorms to tornadoes, hurricanes and                Wimsa�’s daughter, Sheila, keep watch on more
sediment represents some kind of weather or            droughts. Occasionally one of his jars displayed          than 100 jars, old and new. One of their hopes
earth-shaking event. Sometimes the pa�erns             unusual pa�erns that he eventually associated             is that more people will remember Gordon
show what’s happening now; sometimes they              with earthquakes, and yes, even atomic blasts.            Wimsa� and acquire a jar of weather-predicting
indicate events yet to come.                           One of Wimsa�’s favorite stories was the time             animal fat. If you are interested in learning more
                                                       back in the 1940s when one of his bear grease             about the tradition, visit his website, www.
The late Gordon Wimsa� of Mayhill put bear             jars showed an inversion -- or mushroom cloud             gordonwimsa�.com.

Bear grease patterns show current, future wind, rain, even earthquakes
For more than 50 years, Cloudcro�, N.M.,           enabled him to make weather forecasts that
resident G. Gordon Wimsa� used rendered            baffled scientists and earned him national
bear fat to predict the weather and other          recognition.
earth-shaking occurrences with remarkable          A�er years of observing his many jars of
accuracy. Although he had no idea why the          grease and comparing their pa�erns with the
bear grease reacts the way it does, his dil-       weather, he created this chart to help others
ligent a�ention to the old Apache technique        "read" the grease.

                 Bear grease
                                                                                                          Heavy in bot-         Slight buildup:        Build up and
  Ingredients: One piece of clean, well-trimmed animal fat. Bear, chicken or turkey fat work              tom: no change        Some cloud             peak: Clouds
                                                                                                          for several           cover coming.          and moisture
  best. Avoid cow, deer, pork and elk fat.
                                                                                                          hours; clear.                                close at hand.

  1. Cook fat in a skillet over low heat until it turns to a clear liquid. Don't let the fat get too
  2. Immediately strain the liquid into a hot, clean, dry clear glass jar. Any size will work.
  Baby food jars work great.
  3. Cap the jar and set it in a south or east facing window sill. Try not to move the jar, but if
  you must, return it to its original position.
  4. Observe pa�erns and color changes in the jars, making note of weather conditions at the
  time. Keeping a journal will help you learn to predict the weather by "reading" the grease.
  5. Don't give up if you don't notice changes at first. Some grease works right away; others
  take as long as two months to show changes. Occasionally a jar of grease will go dormant                Slight depres-        Slight depre-          Moisture close
  for a period of time, and then become active again.                                                     sion, large           sion, small            at hand from
  6. Not all fat works. If you don't notice changes in 60 days, try another batch.                        particles: light      particles: heavy       direction of
                                                                                                          local winds.          local winds.           point.
                                                                                 Graphics: Dan Williams

Large suspend-      Mushroom             Padded pattern:      Hurricane            Several torna-         Tornado pat-          Cone: Happens          Irregular build-
ed particles:       pattern hap-         Indicates future     buildup pattern      does to hit in a       tern showing          just before a          up: beginning
earthquake pat-     pens only after      storm.               showing direc-       very short time.       direction of          volcanic erup-         of earthquake
tern.               atomic blast.                             tion of travel.                             travel                tion.                  pattern.

12                                                                                                                                      Volume 52, Number 2
Dying to meet you
Continued from Page 1

biologist, said good reproduction during the
past two years pushed more bears into areas
where they got into trouble.

"All of a sudden you have all these young
bears moving around, ge�ing pushed out
by their mothers, trying to find their place
in the world," Winslow said. "Most of our
problem bears are young bears, 100 to 150
pounds, who are out looking for food and
wind up finding dumpsters, birdfeeders,
dirty campgrounds. Some of them are
a�racted to towns, especially if mom used to
bring them in to McDonald's for breakfast."

Finding their place
Young lions also are more likely to get into
conflicts with humans than older, wiser cats.
Once their mother sends them out on their
own, they must establish their own territory,
and that's ge�ing increasingly difficult as
humans encroach on lion habitat. O�en,
what li�le habitat is available is already
spoken for by a very territorial adult lion,
                                                                                                                                        Photo: Nick Smith
and a male cougar's territory averages 120
                                                 New Mexico's mountain lion population is 2,000 to 3,000 and growing, according to recent
square miles.                                    estimates. People are seeing and encountering more of the elusive cats as human development
                                                 continues to expand into cougar country.
Young, inexperienced lions can be
dangerous if they're hungry enough. John         annual occurrences in California.                         • In January 1974, 8-year-old Kenneth
Montoya, a U.S. Forest Service employee,                                                                       Clark Nolan of Arroyo Seco was
discovered that in August 2005 when five          "It's really quite simple -- either people start              killed by an emaciated 47-pound
lions approached him on Patos Mountain           learning to live with bears and lions, or                     female cougar. The boy and his 7-
in southeastern New Mexico. He yelled            we're going to have to start removing more                    year-old half brother were playing
and waved his shovel and was able to back        bears and lions," Winslow said.                               about a half-mile from their home
down the mountain to his truck, followed by                                                                    when they were a�acked by the
the lions all the way. The same year, a young    New Mexico's two fatalities involving bears                   lion. The 7-year-old ran for help, but
female lion killed a family dog, and then        and lions were as hard to explain as they                     by the time the father arrived, the
chased the owner into his house near Las         were tragic:                                                  lion had killed Nolan. The father, a
Vegas. The next day, conservation officers                                                                       state policeman, shot the lion three
used the calls of a fawn bleat and an injured       • In August 2001, 93-year-old Adelia                       times with his pistol, but it ran off. A
rabbit to lure the lion within shooting range.          Maestas Trujillo was mauled to death                   neighbor tracked it down and killed it
                                                        by a 275-pound black bear in her                       with a rifle.
"Lions can be very unpredictable," Winslow              rural home near Mora. The a�ack
said. "If you live around them, you don't               puzzled investigators, who said                 Keeping populations in check
want to create an a�ractive environment for             Trujillo had not been cooking and did
their prey species. Definitely don't feed the            nothing obvious to a�ract the bear.             The Department estimates there are 5,000
deer, and if you must have pets, keep them              No one could recall another case of a           to 6,000 bears and 2,000 to 3,000 cougars
indoors, especially at night."                          bear a�acking someone inside their              in New Mexico. Populations are stable
                                                        house in New Mexico.                            or increasing for both species, which are
A�acks are rare                                                                                         managed under a zone system that regulates
                                                                                                        numbers of animals harvested each year
A�acks on humans by cougars or bears are                                                                by hunters, for depredation issues or lion
very rare, despite a fair number of close                                                               control to protect bighorn sheep. The
encounters and a few nips and scratches.                                                                Department issued 4,913 over-the-counter
Only two people have been killed by a                                                                   bear licenses in the 2006-2007 season and
lion or a bear in recent memory. Still, the                                                             those hunters harvested 356 bears. The same
possibility is there; that's what makes bears                                                           season, 1,570 lion hunters harvested 204
and lions so dangerous, and so interesting.                                                             lions.

"Bear stories are always interesting," said                                                             The Department uses hunting as a tool to
Mark Oswald, editor of the Albuquerque                                                                  keep bear and lion populations in check,
Journal North edition. The newspaper                                                                    but there's li�le control over human
published more than 30 stories about                                                                    populations that continue to expand into
encounters between humans and bears                                                                     bear and lion country. As more and more
or lions in the past two years. On a slow                                                               housing developments and roads are built
news day, all newspapers or television                                                                  in the mountains and foothills, conflicts with
stations need is a bear or a lion to spice                                                              wildlife are inevitable. Some examples:
up the routine mix of crime, car wrecks,
government and politics. Sometimes, all it                                                                 • July 2007: Campers in Sugarite
takes is a sighting to make the news. When                                                                     Canyon State Park near Raton and
a woman in Farmington reported seeing a                                                                        Grapevine Campground in southern
mountain lion on her hike outside town in                                                                      New Mexico were bi�en through
obvious lion country, her story made the                                                                       their tents by bears. Both campers
front page of the local newspaper -- twice.                                                                    were treated for rabies. The Sugarite
                                                                                                               bear was killed and tested negative
With bear and lion populations growing and                                                                     for rabies. The Grapevine bear
human developments expanding into bear                                                                         disappeared into the forest. Officers
and lion country, some say it's only a ma�er                                               File photo          believe both bears had learned to
of time before New Mexico experiences the        Once a black bear discovers an accessible
type of a�acks that have become almost           dumpster, it will be back -- again and again.
                                                                                                                                Continued on Page 14

 Got fish?
 A fisherman puts some
 distance between him and a
 black bear looking for dead
 fish or a handout at Suree
 Pond in the Valle Vidal.
 Bears are common around
 the pond and nearby camp-
 ground because they have
 learned that campers and
 anglers are good food sourc-
 es. When the bears become
 a nuisance or a public safety
 concern, they must be either
 trapped and relocated, or

                                                                                                                                        Photo: Dan Williams

Dying to meet you                                        anything. It was released in the
                                                         Manzano Mountains.                            Drought: the worst of times
Continued from Page 13                                                                                 Problems with bears and lions always
                                                     • June 2006: A mature mountain lion
        associate campers and campgrounds                in the Sedillo Hill area east of              increase during years of drought, especially
        with food.                                       Albuquerque was killed a�er the lion          if the drought year follows one or two
                                                         visited a couple's home three nights          years of good bear and lion reproduction.
     • June 2007: Officers killed a 150-pound              in a row and killed their four pet            That happened in New Mexico from 2001
         bear in Pinos Altos a�er it had killed          pygmy goats.                                  through 2003. Snowpacks and precipitation
         26 chickens, injured a goat and                                                               were poor those years, resulting in slim
         chased other livestock. The bear had        • September 2006: A Santa Fe Sheriff's             pickings in the high country for all wildlife.
         no fear of people and o�en was seen            deputy shot and killed a young male            Desperate for food, the animals traveled
         looking in windows of local houses.            mountain lion in the back yard of a            down into the valleys -- o�en the only
                                                        house south of town a�er the lion              source of water and nourishment. There,
     • May 2007: Officers tranquilized and                killed and ate a house cat. The same           many also found people, dumpsters … and
        relocated a young black bear that               lion was believed to have killed               death.
        wandered into Rio Rancho and                    several house cats in and around
        entered a medical clinic. The bear              Santa Fe over a period of a few                "We killed about 1,000 bears both of those
        did not threaten anyone or damage               weeks.                                         years during the hunting seasons and for
                                                                                                       depredation problems," Winslow said. The
                                                                                                       dry conditions and scarce food supplies
                                                                                                       forced the bears to concentrate on what few
                                                                                                       food sources remained, and that made them
                                                                                                       easy prey for hunters. Other bears found
                                                                                                       their way into towns, and more trouble.
                                                                                                       Hunters harvested nearly 600 bears in the
                                                                                                       2001-2002 season and 745 bears in 2002-
                                                                                                       2003, nearly twice the 11-year average.
                                                                                                       The number of bears killed because of
                                                                                                       depredation concerns also skyrocketed
                                                                                                       to nearly 200 during the drought years,
                                                                                                       compared with only three bears killed the
                                                                                                       year before the drought, and 19 when the
                                                                                                       rains returned in 2003-2004.

                                                                                                       "It was nuts," Conservation Officer Chris
                                                                                                       Chadwick said of the 2001-03 drought
                                                                                                       in the Northwest Area, which includes
                                                                                                       Albuquerque. "We were ge�ing three or four
                                                                                                       calls a night. Everybody was exhausted."

                                                                                                       Sometimes officers are able to trap and
                                                                                                       relocate bears or lions, and sometimes the
                                                                                                       animals and the people who habituated
                                                                                                       them leave officers no choice but to
                                                                                                       permanently remove the problem. Bears
                                                                                                       and lions that are handled, trapped or
                                                                                                       relocated receive visible ear tags so officers
                                                                                                       can recognize them if they turn up again. If
                                                                                          File photo
                                                                                                       the offenses become chronic, the bear or lion
Bears that get into trouble usually are trapped and relocated in suitable habitat far from where
they were caught. The Department of Game and Fish tags these bears so officers can recognize            usually is put down.
them if they turn up again.                                                                                                      Continued on Page 15

14                                                                                                                        Volume 52, Number 2
Living and playing
with bears and lions
Creating dangerous nuisance wild animals by
intentionally or unintentionally feeding them
is a crime punishable by fines up to $500. The
real losers in those scenarios, however, are the
animals, especially bears, which o�en have to
be killed. Here are some reasonable measures
homeowners can take to save a bear or lion’s life
by preventing it from associating humans with

Bears at home
• Garbage: Store your garbage in airtight con-
tainers inside a garage or a sturdy shed, or in an
approved bear-resistant receptacle. Clean trash
cans with ammonia to reduce odors that can at-
tract bears. Put the garbage out the morning of a
scheduled pickup, not the night before.
• Pet food: Feed your pets indoors. Don’t leave                                                                                                 Photo: Nick Smith
pet food outside. Store it in a sturdy building
                                                        Lions and bears can be extremely dangerous if they are cornered or feel threatened. This
or the garage. Make sure your garage door is
                                                        lion's posture indicates it is very displeased with the current situation. Best strategy: Stand
closed at night.                                        tall, make yourself look as big as possible an, and slowly back away.
• Barbecues: Keep barbecues clean and free
of grease. Store them in the garage or a sturdy          Close encounters: What should you do?
                                                        What would you do if you suddenly came              over, which could trigger an a�ack.
• Birdfeeders: Hang birdfeeders out of reach            face-to-face with a black bear or a mountain
of bears, not on your porch or from the house           lion in camp, on the trail, or in your back yard?   • Back away: If the animal has not seen you,
ra�ers. Bring hummingbird feeders inside every          In most cases, your responses to close encoun-      slowly back away while making noise so it
night.                                                  ters with both animals should be the same:          knows you are there. If it still approaches,
                                                                                                            stand tall, yell, ra�le pots and pans or whistle.
• Fruit trees: Plant fruit trees away from your
                                                        • Don’t run! If you come across a bear or a         If you are on a trail, step off on the downhill
house, and pick fruit as it ripens. Spoiled fruit
                                                        lion, stay calm and slowly back away while          side and give the animal room to pass.
that falls to the ground should be removed be-
                                                        continuing to face the animal and avoiding
cause the odor is a powerful bear a�ractant.
                                                        direct eye contact. Pick up small children so       • Don’t mess with mama: Never, ever, get
• Compost piles: Keep compost piles away                they don’t panic and run, which can trigger         between a mother and her cubs or ki�ens.
from your house. Don’t put meat, fish, other             the animals’ instinct to chase.
pungent scraps or fragrant fruits such as melons                                                            • Never offer food: Offering food to a bear is
on your compost pile. Add lime to reduce odors          • Travel in groups: There is strength in num-       inviting it to stick around. When it’s done with
and accelerate decomposition.                           bers, and most bears and lions will respect that    your friendly offering, it may consider having
                                                        and leave the area.                                 you for dessert.
• Talk to neighbors: Bear problems are commu-
nity problems. Make sure your neighbors know            • Make yourself big: Hold out your arms and         • If you are a�acked: Fight back aggressively,
about bear behavior and how to avoid encoun-            spread your jacket so the bear or lion doesn’t      using anything you can reach as a weapon. Do
ters.                                                   consider you its prey. Don’t kneel or bend          not play dead.
Bears in camp
                                                      bears have been known to break in anyway.             establish their own territory. Here are some tips
There’s nothing a black bear likes quite as much                                                            to protect yourself, your family and pets:
as a pic-a-nic basket, fresh garbage or a cooler      • No food in the tent: Keep your tent and sleep-
full of wieners and soda pop. Here are some           ing bag free of all food smells and toiletry items    • Watch the kids: Closely supervise children
ways to prevent dangerous encounters in camp          -- even toothpaste. Change your clothes and           and make sure they are home before dusk and
for yourself and other campers:                       store the ones you wore while cooking outside         not outside before dawn.
• Garbage in, garbage out: Keep your camp             the tent with your food.
                                                                                                            • No hiding places: Trim or remove vegetation
clean and store food and garbage in bear-proof
                                                      • Don’t cook where you sleep: Your cooking            around the house, and close off open spaces
containers if possible. If not, suspend food, cool-
                                                      area should be a good distance -- some say at         beneath porches and decks so lions won’t have
ers and garbage from a tree at least 10 feet off
                                                      least 100 yards -- from where you sleep, if pos-      places to hide.
the ground and 4 feet out from the tree trunk.
Do not bury or burn your trash.                       sible.
                                                                                                            • Lighting: Install outdoor lighting so you can
• Stow your cooler, pots and pans: Keep your          Lion country                                          see a lion if one is present.
cooler and cooking utensils in a secure place,
preferably in a bear-proof container. Vehicles or     Mountain lions can be unpredictable, especially       • No prey: Don’t feed wildlife, especially deer,
hard-sided camp trailers usually are secure, but      when they are young, hungry and looking to            which are lions’ favorite prey.

Dying to meet you                                     A food-conditioned bear is one that learns to
                                                      associate humans with a food source, such
                                                      as bird feeders, apple trees, campsites, trash
Continued from Page 14                                dumpsters and grease bins. They run away
                                                      when approached and usually are trapped
"The problem isn't the bears; it's the people,"       and taken back to the mountains when they
Winslow said. "We're bringing our food                become a problem. A human-conditioned
into areas where it hasn't been before, and           bear is another animal altogether. It is
making it available to the bears. They are            also food-conditioned but has changed
always hungry, they are opportunistic, they           its behavior and has learned not to fear
learn fast and they have good memories.               humans.
Bears know what day is trash day, and what
time Fifi is let out at night. They learn safe         "Human-conditioned bears become active in
routes to their food sources, sometimes right         the daytime, which is not normal for bears,"
through towns, where they know they won't             Winslow said. "When they are approached,
be bothered."                                         they don't run away, and at that point
                                                      they become dangerous and might start                                                               File photo
Winslow has two classifications for problem            considering humans as a food source. When             Young bears instinctively climb when they feel
bears: "food-conditioned" and "human-                 they start behaving like that, it's usually a         threatened, which can cause serious problems
conditioned."                                         death sentence."                                      when they find their way into urban areas.

 Silvery success
     Minnow finds
     plenty of friends                                                                                                A minnow's song
     along Rio Grande                                                                                               A class of fourth-grade students from Cath-
                                                                                                                    erine Gallegos Elementary School sang this
     By Colleen Welch                                                                                               song for the silvery minnow at the dedication
                                                                                                                    of a new silvery minnow refugium in Los
     The river runs slow and low through-                                                                           Lunas. Music teacher Monica White wrote the
     out the Middle Rio Grande. The Rio                                                                             lyrics, with music to the song, Baby Beluga, by
     Grande is not the river it was when                                                                            Raffi and Debi Pike.
     the silvery minnow thrived through-
     out most of the river’s reach, north to                                                                        Silvery minnow in the Rio Grande,
     south. During the late 1500’s when
                                                                                                                    Swimming, swimming despite the sand.
     the river was also known as Rio del
     Norte, the silvery minnow was abun-                                                                            Heaven above, and water below,
     dant and widespread ranging from                                                                               And a li�le silver minnow on the go.
     Espanola, N.M., to the Gulf of Mexico.
     Historically, the minnow also flour-                                                                            Silvery minnow, silvery minnow, swim so fast along.
     ished in the Pecos River from Santa                                                                            We’ll keep you safe from harm, we like to see you.
     Rosa to where it meets the Rio Grande
     in southwest Texas and in the lower                                                                            Way down yonder where the turtles play,
     reaches of the Chama River. Now it is                                                                          Where you swim and splash all day,
     limited to about 5 percent of its origi-
                                                                                                                    The water’s cool and sun is hot,
     nal habitat -- all within the middle
     Rio Grande, from Cochiti Dam to                                                                                See the turtles sunning out in their spots.
     Elephant Bu�e Reservoir.
                                                                                                                    Silvery minnow, silvery minnow, swim so fast along.
     The Rio Grande silvery minnow is the                                                                           We’ll keep you safe from harm, we like to see you.
     only survivor from a group of four
     native minnows that once thrived                                                                               When it’s dark, you’re home and fed,
     in New Mexico’s great river system.                                                                            Curl up snug in your water bed.
     The Rio Grande was “home sweet                                                        Photos: Lance Cherry
                                                                                                                    Moon is shining and the stars are out,
     home” to these particular minnows,                                                                             Good night, li�le minnow, goodnight.
                                             Children released bags of silvery minnows into the Rio
     not found elsewhere in the West.
                                             Grande during an event in June celebrating the 1 millionth
     The other minnows were the Rio          silvery minnow released into its native waters.                        Silvery minnow, silvery minnow, with tomor-
     Grande shiner, phantom shiner and                                                                              row’s sun,
     Rio Grande bluntnose shiner. The Rio                multiply and find the water it needs to survive.            Another day’s begun, you’ll soon be waking.
     Grande bluntnose shiner and phantom shiner          There are plans to improve habitat and water
     are now extinct, but the Rio Grande shiner still    quality to help the minnow and other endan-
     survives in the Pecos River.                                                                                   Silvery minnow in the Rio Grande,
                                                         gered species. Minnows also are being hatched
                                                                                                                    Swimming, swimming despite the sand.
                                                         and raised in a $1 million refugium at the City
     Today, the silvery minnow has many friends          of Albuquerque Biological Park. When the min-              Heaven above, and water below,
     working to save it from extinction. En-             nows get big enough, they are released into the            And a li�le silver minnow on the go.
     vironmental groups, government agen-                Rio Grande. In June, the 1 millionth minnow was            You’re just a li�le silver minnow on the go.
     cies and children are helping the minnow            set free to swim in the river.

     the minnow . . .
     “I am a small, silvery animal with fins and
     scales. I have small eyes. I rarely get longer
     than 3.5 inches (9 centimeters). I hatched from
     a floating egg. I eat algae and tiny plant pieces
     I find floating in the water and on the gooey
     river bo�om. Sometimes I eat old insect skins. I
     usually travel in large groups called “schools.”                                                                              Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
     I prefer slow-moving waters where the river           upstream, sharing the river with 16 other native
     meanders and braids. I release my eggs when           fish species.
     the river flow increases during the early spring
     to summer.”                                           Today, the river has been tamed …

     -- Bosque Education Guide                             The Rio Grande no longer meanders where I try
                                                           to survive between Cochiti and Elephant Bu�e
                                                           lakes. Five major dams have been built within
     Many years ago, when the river was wild …             my habitat range and I can no longer swim
                                                           upstream. Most of the water is used by farmers
     I laid my eggs during the peak spring flows,           and cities. Sometimes the river bo�om lies na-
     and my young developed in quiet backwater             ked and dry, cracked by the hot sun. When I can
     areas a�er flooding. I prefer shallow, slow water      find water, I share it with strange new fish that
     with its silty, sandy bo�om. I am a strong fish,       live behind the dams and find their way into the
     but I usually live only one year, so my annual        river. The new fish eat my food, and sometimes
     spawn is very important to the survival of my         eat me! Today, I am one of only nine remaining         To learn more about people helping silvery min-
     species. The river was strong and carried my          native fish in the Rio Grande, but people are           nows, please visit the website,
     eggs and young far downstream. I journeyed            trying to help me.                           

16                                                                                                                                   Volume 52, Number 2

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