Jan 282013

We wiped out the elk and wolves in this area. Then we brought back elk. Time to let the wolves restore balance, just as they have done in Yellowstone.

Grand Canyon elk go from attraction to menace

Elk, once a rare sight at the national park, now regularly jam up the park’s roads, graze on hotel lawns and aren’t too shy about displaying their power, provoked or not. They’ve broken bones and caused eye injuries in the most serious circumstances, and give chase to the unsuspecting. …

Elk brought in by train from Yellowstone National Park helped re-establish the Arizona populations after the state’s native elk became extinct around 1900.

They’re now too close to the Grand Canyon’s most popular areas for comfort.

Grand Canyon elk go from attraction to menace

Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project – Home

A Wolf Awareness Relay Hike in the path of natural dispersal from the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area to the Grand Canyon

paseo-del-lobo-trail-map-2-thumbThe Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project is excited to host our second wolf advocacy campaign relay hike from July to October 2013 that will follow a natural dispersal corridor, connecting the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (where Mexican gray wolves currently live) to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (where we are advocating for their return). Mexican wolves are capable of traversing hundreds of miles, and need room to roam in order to establish a metapopulation structure to preserve remaining genetic diversity.

Grand Canyon Wolf Recovery Project – Home

 Posted by at 7:24 am
Jan 262013

Spike shows off his tailWe’ve been interacting with Spike the roadrunner for about 6 months. We see him almost daily. He’s not a pet – he’s leery of us, as he should be – but we know each other.

Spike has recently started calling, a sound we’ve never heard before. We’re familiar with the roadrunner call that sounds much like a mourning dove only more mournful. This call is a loud whoop. You can hear it in the first short video. I took the second video immediately after the call.



Spike in the rainIt’s warm and rainy in Albuquerque today – to call that unusual is tragic understatement. Spike has hunkered down on his rock in the front yard in a pose that reminds me of green herons or black-crowned night herons – no neck.

 Posted by at 1:07 pm  Tagged with:
Jan 052013

National Bird Day – Homepage

Why National Bird Day?

  • The beauty, songs, and flight of birds have long been sources of human inspiration.
  • Today, nearly 12 percent of the world’s 9,800 bird species may face extinction within the next century, including nearly one-third of the world’s 330 parrot species.
  • Birds are sentinel species whose plight serves as barometer of ecosystem health and alert system for detecting global environmental ills.
  • Many of the world’s parrots and songbirds are threatened with extinction due to pressures from the illegal pet trade, disease, and habitat loss.
  • Public awareness and education about the physical and behavioral needs of birds can go far in improving the welfare of the millions of birds kept in captivity.
  • The survival and well-being of the world’s birds depends upon public education and support for conservation.

This is the reason for National Bird Day. Join us!

National Bird Day – Homepage

 Posted by at 2:30 pm
Nov 212012

ABQJournal Online » UPDATED: Coyote Hunt’s Final Tally Is 39

The statewide hunt, sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas, took a total of 39 coyotes and was mostly without incident, reported Rick Gross, an employee of Gunhawk.

Gross said the winning team killed 11 coyotes over the weekend. He said the store was not releasing the name of the winners.

“We got back teams with a lot of ones and zeros,” he said. “All the hides will be used; none of the carcasses were just left.”

During the run-up to the hunt, Gross said he learned that people thought the contest would result in the killing of “thousands upon thousands of coyotes. I estimated maybe 200 at the beginning.”

ABQJournal Online » UPDATED: Coyote Hunt’s Final Tally Is 39

 Posted by at 2:18 pm
Nov 182012

ABQJournal Online » Coyote Hunters Want Fun By Thomas Cole / Of the Journal on Sat, Nov 17, 2012

If all goes as planned by organizer Mark Chavez, more than 100 hunters will spread out across New Mexico this weekend to kill coyotes.

Chavez, owner of Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas, estimates about 150 coyotes will be killed.

That’s a fraction of a fraction of 1 percent of all the coyotes in New Mexico. Still, I guess you could argue that coyote-killing contests are, to some degree, about controlling a predator population, albeit not a very effective way to do that.

But coyote-killing contests are about something else, too: having “some fun.” …

Why this coyote-killing contest has attracted so much attention isn’t clear. It certainly isn’t the first coyote-killing contest and certainly won’t be the last.

The World Coyote Calling Championship was held in Belen at the Valencia County Fairgrounds in 2010 and 2011. I couldn’t find results for 2011, but hunters killed 273 coyotes in 2010. A father-son team won the event, with nine coyotes killed.

New Mexico Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife will hold its sixth annual coyote-killing contest next weekend, Nov. 24 and 25., at Aztec Machine & Repair in Bloomfield.

There will be cash prizes for most coyotes killed, as well as money for smallest and biggest coyotes. A light dinner will be provided to participants Nov. 25 after the killing is done. …

Another coyote-killing contest is scheduled for Jan. 10-12 in Gallup. It’s hosted by Red and Jackie Cunningham, according to the website of the National Predator Hunters Association.

Coyote-killing contests need to be recognized for what they are: a way to have “some fun.”

ABQJournal Online » Coyote Hunters Want Fun

 Posted by at 7:47 am
Nov 162012

ABQJournal Online » State Shrinks Coyote Hunt Areas

The two-day, statewide contest – in which 60 teams paid $50 each to try to bag the most coyote carcasses – has sparked opposition from people all over the country.

On Thursday, state Land Commissioner Ray Powell announced that state trust lands, about 13 million acres across the state, are off limits, because the participants do not have a permit or lease.

“These contests are about personal profit, animal cruelty, and the severe disruption of the delicate balance of this desert ecosystem,” said Powell in a news release.

He added: “It is time to outlaw this highly destructive activity.”

[Gunhawk Firearms owner Mark Chavez ] and other contest advocates argue that the contest will help cull the predatory coyote population.

ABQJournal Online » State Shrinks Coyote Hunt Areas

Kudos to Ray Powell. Mark Chavez talks as if he wants to help the environment. However, he took up this contest when Calibers cancelled it over public outrage. At that time, Chavez said he didn’t want environmentalists to “win” and this was about gun rights.So, which is it? peace, mjh

 Posted by at 3:21 pm
Nov 162012

Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter: Email – Ask Gov. Martinez to denounce coyote-killing contest

coyote Ask Gov. Martinez to denounce coyote shoot

Fellow New Mexican,

Coyote-killing contests are legal and are held in New Mexico every year. That’s right, shooters sign up to win a prize for who can kill the most coyotes in a weekend. The death of these native mid-sized wild canines serves no purpose except for use as live targets to make a pile of dead bodies. No one eats coyote.

Now a gun store in Los Lunas is planning a killing contest. Shooters are signing up right now for the killing this weekend, Nov. 16-18. The prize is an assault rifle or a shotgun for killing the most coyotes in that time frame. The governor needs to know how much New Mexicans disapprove of this senseless violence.

This random killing of coyotes will not protect livestock. U.S. Department of Agriculture data reports that native carnivores are responsible for a tiny percentage of all livestock losses and coyotes in particular only a fraction of that. Coyotes will be killed that have never harmed livestock. These population disruptions will create more and younger coyotes which will be more likely to get into trouble with people. The ecosystem is disrupted for a weekend of human blood-sport entertainment, and the result is a senseless mountain of carcasses.

Please send a letter to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez asking her to denounce this and all killing contests. They cast a very bad light on our state.

Thank you for everything you do,

Mary Katherine Ray, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Wildlife chair

Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter: Email – Ask Gov. Martinez to denounce coyote-killing contest

 Posted by at 3:13 pm
Nov 152012

I’m heartened to see hunters/gun-owners and even the benighted Abq Journal come out against the senseless and brutal slaughter of coyotes for “fun” and profit. The right to own a gun assumes the owner will exercise his or her right in a responsible manner. Slaughter is irresponsible. Moreover, we know that people who abuse animals are potentially violent to other people. peace, mjh

ABQJournal Online » Slaughter of Coyotes an Abomination Against Nature By Pete McCloskey And Helen McCloskey / Madrid residents on Thu, Nov 15, 2012

The coyote killing “contest” being hosted this weekend by Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas is a disgrace to the state of New Mexico and to the ethics of hunting.

With farms in New Mexico and northern California, we are no strangers to firearms or coyotes. But the days of mass killings of any wildlife should be long gone. …

It is time to cease encouraging killings based on proven falsehoods and distorted ideas of privilege over animals that justify random acts of violence. No amount of partial scholarships or free guns to the winners makes a sadistic contest saner.

Pete McCloskey is a former U.S. congressman, a Republican from California, and co-founder of the 1970 Earth Day; Helen McCloskey is a farmer and conservationist.

ABQJournal Online » Slaughter of Coyotes an Abomination Against Nature

ABQJournal Online » Editorial: N.M. Should Be Better Than Bounty Contests By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board on Wed, Nov 14, 2012

Let’s be clear — staging a contest to see who can kill the most of any one species is not about hunting.

At its core, real hunting is about respecting wildlife and its ecosystem. It understands a species’ role in its environment and habitat. It is not about a blatant disregard for life that glorifies a weekend of blood sport for the sake of nothing more than mass killings. …

It is about shooting living things dead. A lot of them. For fun. Not because the meat or pelts are needed for survival, or the animals pose a threat, or even that the head will make a nice trophy.

Just killing to kill and then killing some more, only to then dump the pile of carcasses at a secret location.

What kind of message does that send? What kind of picture does it present of our state?

ABQJournal Online » Editorial: N.M. Should Be Better Than Bounty Contests

ABQJournal Online » No Quarter for the Coyote By Our readers on Tue, Nov 13, 2012

There Is No Honor In Wanton Slaughter

GUNHAWK FIREARMS’ coyote kill is spreading a national disease.

This “disease” is called lack of respect-itis. As a gun owner, hunter and outdoors person, I am appalled at the wanton killing of coyotes promoted by Gunhawk Firearms of Los Lunas in their so-called depredation hunt.

I have no problem with the killing of a coyote if it has directly affected the livelihood of a rancher, farmer or livestock-raising family. But this concept of “Kill as many as you can, pile up the carcasses and win a prize” lacks sportsmanship and sets a poor example for young people.

Kill because it is fun? Kill for the sake of killing? We already have enough young people killing or threatening to kill each other. All Gunhawk (is doing) is encouraging this wanton disrespect for life.

The idea of killing for the sake of killing is not the concept of hunting that I was brought up with. We ate what we hunted and were taught to respect those animals that nourished our bodies. Lately, on our hunting trips we have observed more and more unethical and irresponsible behavior that is making this sport less and less palatable to both true hunters and nonhunters alike. This coyote kill is a prime example of this — this is not what being a sportsman means.

Disrespectfulness is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. There is disrespect for those we don’t understand —who aren’t like us. We disrespect ideas that don’t align with our own. We disrespect the planet that supports us by hedonistically mining its natural resources, both living and nonliving, with total disregard for what this leaves — or doesn’t leave — for future generations.

And finally, Gunhawk is putting the whole sport of hunting at risk with this program. One coyote kill has already been canceled because an outraged public weighed in with letters, phone calls and emails.

The “ugly and reckless hunter” is not the image we need of our sport. Gunhawk is putting the true sport of hunting and sportsmanship at risk. Keep this attitude up and the sport will be legislated to death.

Gunhawk, please rethink this coyote kill for what it really is: total disrespect in addition to the sport’s possible death sentence.



Contest Is Simply A Crime Against Nature

CONDEMN COYOTE killing contests! To date, the coyote is killed throughout the U.S. with no regulation or protection whatsoever. Federal, state and local governments kill one per minute.

Seventy-two point five million taxpayer dollars are spent each year on western livestock protection, mainly coyote killing. The lethal methods used are aerial gunning, poisons, leg-hold traps, neck snares, denning (the killing of coyote pups by poisoning, gas, clubbing, hounding and shooting) — all brutally inhumane.

Coyote-killing contests do not teach our young to appreciate our wildlife or to respect life. Disruption of family packs can caused orphaned juveniles to seek easy prey such as small dogs and cats, and other coyotes will move into the vacated area.

Coyote biologists have long recognized the role of coyotes in controlling rodent populations. Large carnivores also preserve species diversity of native birds by controlling numbers of smaller carnivores, such as foxes, raccoons, skunks and opossum. Coyotes are an integral, invaluable part of our ecosystem.

Instead of putting all the blame on animals, humans must take responsibility and be held accountable. Lethal force is not the answer. Livestock owners can do more to protect their animals with fences — especially electric fences — outdoor lights triggered by sensors, guard dogs and keeping in vulnerable animals.

Native to North America, coyotes occupy the biological niche between foxes and wolves, playing essential parts in the environment by helping maintain the natural ecosystem. The money and efforts used to kill coyotes needs to be redirected toward educated coexistence.

In short, coyote-killing contests cultivate violence and disrespect against wildlife and all life as a whole. A petition against the Los Lunas coyote hunt has been signed by 10,771,00 people already.



Los Lunas Suffers Yet More Embarrassment

ON NOV. 17 and 18, coyote-killing contestants will fan out across New Mexico to shoot as many coyotes as possible in an effort to win a contest. The team with the most carcasses will win guns. This cruel coyote-killing contest is a publicity stunt conceived by Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas. Mark Chavez, the owner of Gunhawk Firearms and his employees have described the contest as a “win-win” and “fun.” Gunhawk Firearms further incited events by telling its critics, in essence, “bring it on.”

We are longtime Los Lunas residents who live next to the bosque near coyote habitat. We have farm animals and have never been bothered by coyotes. Gunhawk Firearms states they are helping ranchers. But ranchers are not sponsoring this contest.

New Mexico Game & Fish, in its “Wildlife Notes,” states that the favored diet of coyotes are rabbits, mice and rodents. Coyotes also prefer to feed on dead and decaying animals. Gunhawk’s contest will not result in effective predator control.

In an effort to stop this contest, we started a coalition of people from all backgrounds who oppose the practice of coyote contest killing. We are not anti-gun, anti-ranching, or anti-hunting. We believe in managed predator control based on sound scientific principles. In addition to local residents, thousands of others from all over the United States and the world have signed petitions asking that the contest be canceled. But Gunhawk Firearms has refused to cancel the contest.

Not only is this contest lethal for coyotes, it is dangerous to others who may be using public lands on the weekend before Thanksgiving. It will also interfere with deer and elk hunts already scheduled by Game & Fish.

Los Lunas and New Mexico have already attracted national media attention this year for animal cruelty at the Southwest Livestock Auction in Los Lunas and at racetracks around New Mexico. Among all New Mexico counties, Valencia County has some of the highest rates of child, domestic and animal abuse. This is not coincidence — it is connected. This contest is not in the best interest of Los Lunas or New Mexico.

Gunhawk Firearms knows this contest is ugly because it has not disclosed where it will count the coyote carcasses. Gunhawk Firearms needs to correct its mistake by calling off its “contest” and coming up with a different promotional plan for its business.


Los Lunas

Be Careful With Karma Or You May Regret It

I PRAY THAT my voice is heard on behalf of the wildlife.

It seems that humans haven’t evolved on the intelligence/food chain all that much. People don’t eat coyotes. All they are doing is showing their barbaric actions and behavior.

We must have coyotes in the wild. They balance out the smaller animal population — mice, rats, rabbits, etc. If coyotes are not here, we will be overrun.

Lest we forget the black plague, the mice that carried the diseases overran everything and the death of humans began. We had the plague up there in the mountains not all that long ago. Wake up.

How dare humans think that they have the right to blow others out of the water. I assure you that if we all turned our guns on the fools who think this is funny and a joke, we’d see them all running for fear of their lives.

As they say, “what goes around, comes around.” Please, do the correct thing and stop this horrific action.

Despite human ignorance, nature endures.


Founder and President Wanagi Wolf Fund and Rescue


Publicity Stunt Worthy Of Only a Pathetic Man

MARK CHAVEZ, the owner of Gunhawk Firearms, is trying to drum up publicity for his store, and also claiming ranchers need this contest to stop coyotes from killing their livestock. Really?

In reality their main prey is rabbits, squirrels, mice and other rodents, even insects. When all the coyotes are gone, will farmers then host a rabbit-killing contest? A squirrel- and mouse-killing contest?

Coyotes are an important part of the ecosystem and their numbers are being controlled quite well by the spread of humanity alone. It’s shameful and disgusting that some people will find joy in personally wounding and killing these animals.

Oh, well, at least the winner will have that free gun to shoot those rabbits taking over his yard.


Rio Rancho

This Travesty a Black Mark for Gun Owners

AS A RELATIVE to the Colt .45 firearm family and one who has owned a firearm myself, I have to say I am disgusted and outraged by the irresponsible coyote killing contest Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas intends on holding Nov. 17 and 18. Despite public outrage, the sponsor and participants are putting ego over common sense when promoting NRA rights, and the right to kill over common decency. It does nothing but a disservice for those who believe in the right to bear arms.

Not to mention, mass body counts is absolutely not hunting. They should be ashamed, not proud in their defiance.


Santa Fe

ABQJournal Online » No Quarter for the Coyote

 Posted by at 10:16 am
Nov 152012

ABQJournal Online » Slaughter of Coyotes an Abomination Against Nature By Pete McCloskey And Helen McCloskey / Madrid residents on Thu, Nov 15, 2012

As Leopold noted toward the end of his life: “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over or in the earth. Harmony with the land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish the right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges, you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. … The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: ‘What good is it?’ ”

ABQJournal Online » Slaughter of Coyotes an Abomination Against Nature

 Posted by at 9:53 am
Oct 032012


Let’s begin at the end of the tale: Don’t watch these short movies if you live in Disneyland. The first one is shorter (40 sec) with more behavioral displays – pause to see the riot of feathers. The second one is longer (2 min) with more tenderizing (and traffic noise).

Spike’s continuing story:

 Posted by at 9:58 am  Tagged with:
Oct 022012

DSC09837I wrote about Spike the Roadrunner a month ago and here’s a little update with a few new photos (of the hundreds I’ve taken – he’s very photogenic, as you can see).

We had quite a scare a couple of weeks ago. Mer had fed Spike his morning mouse. We were standing within arm’s reach of Spike, who was perched on the wall between us and the neighbor’s yard. Suddenly, Spooky the black cat leapt from the far side of the wall and landed on Spike. It was as startling as any horror movie. Spike squawked, Mer shrieked, and I exclaimed, “Son of a Bitch!” to my own great surprise. Spike managed to fly off. Spooky disappeared – lucky for him, because I was stalking him brick in hand. Spike ran down the road toward Indian School and its traffic. We watched him run around the corner, so we knew he was probably OK but feared we’d never see him again.

To our great relief, Spike clattered for food from the rooftop the next morning. He looked a bit disheveled but uninjured. He doesn’t return every day or twice a day, as he used to, but we hope that means better chances for his survival.


 Posted by at 11:05 am
Sep 022012


Of course, we should let wildlife remain wild. Failing to do so puts them and us at risk. However, humans are often captivated by a wild creature that shows curiosity and expresses a unique personality. I’ve been observing roadrunners for over 25 years and I’ve never known one like Spike, as I think a few photos will show. Although he isn’t really our pet nor do we want him to be, if you name a creature, feed it, and miss it when it doesn’t show up, someone is a pet. Perhaps we are Spike’s.

DSC09375Roadrunners often expose their backs to the sun for warmth. The feathers there are particularly thin and sparse. However, I’ve never seen the posture Spike assumes in these two photos. (It was late afternoon and over 90 degrees – I doubt he was cold.)



Spike showed up one morning when we were feeding a turtle ground beef. He rattled, which may be a call for food or an expression of curiosity. Mer has learned to imitate him and he comes when she calls. As his surrogate mama, Mer showed him how to find worms in the compost and fed him a grasshopper (I missed that photo op).

When we told a friend at Hawks Aloft that we were feeding Spike ground beef, she said it wasn’t nutritious enough. So, we bought a bag of frozen mice from Hawks Aloft (“chocolate,” ie, brown). Spike figured out what to do immediately – he swung it by the tail and smashed it on the ground repeatedly. Yum, tender.

Spike, the young roadrunnerNote the delicate eyelashes. Keep in mind these are feathers, not hairs.

Like the desert itself, the colors of a roadrunner shift in the light from drab to iridescent green and blue, plus blue and orange eyeshadow.DSC09245

Spike, the young roadrunner

I was a little alarmed when an adult roadrunner showed up and took the burger ball from Spike, but that only happened once. However, Spike had a young friend with him one morning – we called her Alice (after “Spike and Alice,” derived from a card game called Spite and Malice – hat tip to the Mullanys).

See more pictures and videos.

Read an update with new photos (10/02/12)

 Posted by at 2:46 pm