Wildlife & Habitat Conservation

April, 2017

  • 13 April

    Ears, not eyes

    Kirsten Cruz-McDonnell, chief biologist for Envirological Services, Inc., walked a predetermined route in the Santa Fe National Forest, stopping at up to 20 points for 10 minutes identifying different bird species primarily by their calls. Photo by Zen Mocarski, New Mexico Wildlife magazine Spring 2017 Vol60, Num1, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

    Ears, not eyes critical in documenting small birds Walking through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the Santa Fe National Forest offers the opportunity to see wildlife diversity. Sometimes, however, seeing isn’t the best option. When trying to identify small birds, there are times it helps to close your eyes, …

  • 13 April

    Gould’s wild turkey

    New Mexico is home to Merriam’s, Rio Grande and Gould’s turkeys. The Gould’s, the largest of the three birds, was first documented in the state in 1892. Photo by Chuck Schultz, New Mexico Wildlife magazine Spring 2017 Vol60, Num1, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

    Gould’s wild turkey in New Mexico The wild turkey is a popular game bird throughout the United States, with their excellent eyesight and cautious behavior making for a challenging hunt. The excitement of calling in a tom or hearing the first gobble of the morning will create a lifelong memory. …

  • 13 April

    Citizens in conservation

    Aptly named, the eastern barking frog sounds like a domestic dog when bellowing for a mate. Unlike any other amphibian in New Mexico, eastern barking frogs do not have a tadpole stage. Instead, they metamorphose within the egg, so there is no aquatic stage in the life cycle. Photo by James Stewart, New Mexico Wildlife magazine Spring 2017 Vol60, Num1, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

    Opportunity for citizens to aid in conservation In some areas of New Mexico, the anxious sound of a dog might just be … a frog. The two share a common trait: They both bark. The word is even in its common name, the eastern barking frog. Found in the Chihuahuan …

October, 2016

  • 28 October

    Elk calf survival rates

    Shawn Carrell, Jemez conservation officer for the Department of Game and Fish, looks on after releasing a cow elk. The elk was fitted with a GPS collar and a vaginal implant transmitter. The transmitter is designed to be expelled during birth, allowing biologists to locate the calves quickly to affix radio tags. NMDGF photo by Nicole Quintana. Photo by Nicole Quintana, New Mexico Wildlife magazine, NMDGF.

    Wildlife management can be challenging, especially when research data has yet to be collected and a theory needs scientific support. While wildlife surveys can provide New Mexico Department of Game and Fish biologists with insight to population trends, they don’t provide answers when a decline is documented. So, when biologists …

  • 28 October

    Finding elk calves

    An elk calf lies still after researchers attached an ear transmitter. Calf survival has been low in the Mount Taylor area and researchers are trying to understand the reason. In the event of a death, researchers can respond to the scene quickly to identify the cause. Photo by Katelyn Shanor, New Mexico Wildlife magazine, NMDGF.

    As dawn broke over Chivato Mesa, a group of New Mexico Department of Game and Fish biologists, conservation officers and volunteers fanned out in search of calving elk. They climbed hilltops and used binoculars and spotting scopes to scan the vast meadows and clusters of scrub oak that dot the …

  • 28 October

    Positive forecast for elk

    Strong precipitation in the winter of 2014 and a good monsoon season last year helped produce an abundance of forage, which has been beneficial to the elk population and the overall health of herds around New Mexico. Photo by Dan Williams, New Mexico Wildlife magazine, NMDGF.

    When habitat conditions are strong, wildlife tend to flourish and the overriding factor is precipitation. Adequate rainfall and snow in 2014-15 produced an abundance of available forage, resulting in healthy elk herds throughout most of New Mexico. “We had a prolific monsoon season in 2015, which created an abundance of …

  • 28 October

    Geese numbers dangerously high

    Habitat and birds suffer as light geese numbers rise. Photo by Dan Williams, New Mexico Wildlife magazine, NMDGF

    Mid-continent populations of light geese are currently at levels never before recorded. They have surpassed critical mass and efforts to stem their growth over the last 20 years has been ineffective. “It’s a difficult concept to explain,” said Casey Cardinal, turkey and upland game biologist with the New Mexico Department …

  • 28 October

    Bear population study

    Determining an accurate minimum population of bears has been difficult, but understanding bear behavior and using modern technology make it possible. Photo by Dan Williams, New Mexico Wildlife magazine, NMDGF

    Finding a needle in a haystack might sound like a difficult, painstaking process, but it pales in comparison to estimating the number of bears on the landscape. Wildlife agencies across the nation face a notoriously difficult challenge trying to estimate bear populations, but new methods offer the ability to more …

  • 28 October

    It’s called hunting

    Seeing wildlife is always an exciting experience, but it can become frustrating when the animal a person is looking for can’t be found. While on a cow elk hunt, with the camera left behind, javelina, deer, and pronghorn antelope were all happy to make an appearance, but the elk remained elusive. Photo by Dan Williams. New Mexico Wildlife magazine, NMDGF.

    We’ve all been there. At least I hope we’ve all been there and I’m not sitting here alone with the memories of the feeblest hunting experience. As the saying goes: Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. This is the category under which my personal hunting exploits would lie. It was …

August, 2016

  • 15 August

    Modern conservation

    Fencing can impede movement of some wildlife, including pronghorns. Although capable of jumping, pronghorns ring to go under fences. Pronghorn-friendly fences include an 18-inch gap from the ground to the first strand. Fencing without such modifications impedes pronghorn movement. Photo, New Mexico Wildlife magazine, NMDGF.

    The need for modern conservation efforts In the last 100 years, development has boomed, cities have grown and the connections people have with the outdoors has been replaced by the internet, shopping malls, movie theaters and home entertainment centers. The roadways we use, our homes, fences and our workplaces are …