A Dangerous Summer

7.04.2019


Lethal predators of New Mexico - the Bobcat and the Coyote
Photograph by Mark Schmitt

This summer is shaping up to be a dangerous one with an influx of bobcats and coyotes in our portion of the city. No longer are such lethal predators limited to the higher mountain elevations, but now they are appearing regularly within the neighborhood foothills.

The results have been three neighborhood pet dogs snatched from their backyard domains within the last week alone. One of those dogs lived just a few doors up from our home. What I previously thought of as safe environments, i.e., the walled in backyard has now become the stalking grounds for a hungry bobcat and the coyote.

According to Albuquerque’s Animal Control Department, their normal food chain of rabbits and other small prey is being disrupted somewhere along the line. Which seems about right, since we're seeing less and less of the native white-tailed and black-tailed rabbits scrambling across the hiking trails. On a morning walk with Chloe, our rabbit sightings usually count four or five within a 40-minute time span, but now that number has dwindled to one or maybe two and these are appearing more frequently on the neighborhood lawns. Meaning, the bobcat and coyote food has moved away from the wilderness and into the populated surroundings.

Bobcat caught on film, stalking the neighborhood.

Over the past years, it was always the black bear that had the headlines making a nuisance of itself as they wandered down from the mountains and into the city foraging for a meal. Now it’s the bobcats and coyotes turn to make the city perimeter their hunting ground. 

What’s the solution? 

As I monitor the chatter on the “Nextdoor” app, there are two opinions in the neighborhood. The first are those in love with nature and see any disruption of wildlife as a bad thing. They feel the city's ever expanding boundaries have been creeping too much into the predators terrain, and it’s only right that these stalking animals regain their ground. Obviously, they must not own a cat or dog and have never experienced the heartbreak of losing a pet from the backyard! 

The opposing opinion is to take these predators out by shooting, or preferably relocation back into the mountains. Which is the city’s solution for bears that suddenly pop up on a neighbor’s front yard by shipping them off to other places in New Mexico.

According to city officials, bear sightings get reported for a quick remedy of the situation, whereas a sighting of a bobcat or coyote go unreported by the public. For one, it’s difficult to catch a bobcat in the act, since they are nocturnal hunters, choosing stealth and cunning as they stalk their prey. In fact, the obstacle of an eight-foot high property wall is an easy leap for a hungry bobcat or coyote, offering very little protection for one’s pet.

The solution for responsible pet owners is to take additional cautionary measures during these times of unaccountable wildlife interruptions. Albuquerque is a unique urban center, surrounded by mile high mountains on the east, and flat-open mesas on the west which has been the home for hundreds of years for many creatures, some dangerous and others - not so dangerous. 

We normally live in harmony between wildlife and the sprawling population, but during such times as we’re seeing this summer, some recommendations from Albuquerque's Animal Control Department are in order:

1 - Keep your pet indoors during the predawn hours and dark of night.
2 - Turn the light on and stand guard duty if your pet needs the backyard at night.
3 - Do not keep pet food, or water out at night.
4 - Do not keep the doggie dog open at night.
5 - Fruit trees attract wild animals - pickup ripening fruit on the ground.
6 - Report any pet attacks by wild animals to the city Animal Control Office. If the city 
      doesn’t know, they cannot take action! 

For those in Albuquerque - Dial 311 to report an incident.

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