Why you don't let your cat out in Albuquerque

When our mother upped and moved to New Mexico a few years back, my brother and I were thrilled to be spending holidays in such a rugged, wild, and frankly, weird place. She lives only a couple of miles from the center of Albuquerque, but regular backyard visitors include coyotes, black bears and lynx. Needless to say, the family cat, Lulu, quickly became an "indoor cat." After a few months the coyotes became more bold, trotting along the walls of the property, and my grandmother, Maggie, quickly became an "indoor grandmother."

These pictures were taken by a motion activated camera in the Sandia Mountains behind mom's house over the course of just over a week in April and March of this year.

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more below the fold...

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Thanks to Salem "Calamity" Smith for forwarding along.

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Wow! The picture of the two mountain lions is very cool.

Sooner or later you'll need a gun or wish you had one. Good luck.

By vanderleun (not verified) on 12 May 2008 #permalink

With all due respect to the family cat, which id undoubtedly better off spayed and kept inside, cats are an invasive species. A potentially very destructive one.

Years ago, in response to finding so many dead birds around my place I looked up exactly how much damage domestic cats can do. I ran across a university study that, if I remember correctly, said that after examining their dropping the domestic cats were getting a good percentage of their diets from wild birds and that a single cat could kill six or more birds a day.

The conclusion was that domestic cats were potentially devastating wild birds and could be negatively effecting other small wild animals. Limiting the numbers of cats and keeping them well away from wildlife seems like a desirable goal.

Failing that, too many cats allowed to wander the outdoors, possible developing feral colonies, coyotes, wildcats, foxes and mountain lions don't seem such a terrible thing to have around.

Being an "indoor grandmother" sounds awful.

Holy crap! Those are incredible!

I'd like to camera-trap in the city. We might see a cougar, too. :)

In New Mexico, those would be bobcats, not lynx.

If you have a pool of water in a desert, you're going to attract wildlife. This looks like an African waterhole safari camp. (I assume the fox gave the skunk the right of way.)

By Tina Rhea (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

You can see by second picture of the fox, that he didn't!!

=8^O

I lived in Tucson AZ suburbs (Oro Valley) for almost 4 years, and it was the same thing there, about the wildlife feeding on kittens. Abundant snakes, packs of wild javelina minipigs digging happily in the front yard of our company (it was watered so I suppose there were worms there), coyotes crossing the streets properly - on designated street crossings in downtown - very many very silly birds, an occasional black bear, armadillo and Gila Monster. But most of the big mammals were to be seen around 5-7am, before it got too hot. I have fond memories about jogging in the mornings within an alley of saguaros, with Catalina mountains in the view, and the sweet smell of desert mixing with smell of freshly fried tortila chips from nearby restaurants...It is great place to visit but my problem was that after awhile I got tired of living in this exotic alien place - and wanted to go back somewhere with grass and trees.

We have all those creatures here in southern Minnesota. And no, I don't let my cat out for reasons Art mentioned above. Vanderleun"s assertion that you would need a gun is asinine, born of ignorance. All these creatures will run from adult humans. Another reason to keep your cat in is vet bills. Injuries from fights,and parasites, both ecto and endo. Oh, those are pumas, not bobcats. They have long tails.

By Blind Squirrel FCD (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

Actually, Blind Squirrel, it's unhealthy for wild animals to feel that comfortable that close to human habitation. Eventually there will be run-ins between wild animals and humans, and if the wild animals have lost their fear of humans, as they say, there will be blood. Of course, as noted above, the water is the attraction.

Mark P I agree with everything you said. Nowhere in the above post did I state that this is a healthy situation. My point is that it is not a terribly dangerous situation, certainly not in the context of the dangers people face in their daily lives: cars, dogs, people with guns. With reasonable precautions, there is no reason ableiman can not continue to enjoy The wildlife in his back yard. It's not like he is hand feeding them.

By Blind Squirrel FCD (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

I live in suburban MD and we have coyotes, wild turkeys, foxes, deer, occasional black bear sightings, beavers, and so on. We saw golden eagles not too long ago. No large wild cats, thank goodness, but the now-endemic coyotes are enough to give me pause.

A couple of weeks ago the kids found a dead rabbit. DH called animal control to ask if there was anything special he had to do related to its disposal. He was told that local animal control doesn't need to be involved in "anything smaller than an adult opossum." I asked when opossums became a unit of measurement.

hm, Did Andrew specifically say this scene was in his mother's backyard, or that it was in the Sandia Mountains which are behind his mothers house. The Bleiman bro's are excellent writers and generaly very precise in their writing so compare the meanings of:

These pictures were taken by a motion activated camera in the Sandia Mountains behind mom's house over the course of just over a week in April and March of this year. -ableiman

(Emphasis mine)

versus:

These pictures were taken by a motion activated camera behind mom's house in the Sandia Mountains over the course of just over a week in April and March of this year.

No matter what...as long as we insist on creating our living spaces in key wildlife habitat areas there will be conflict. As long as we have irrational social fear, not to mention guns, the blood shed will be that of the bear, coyote and puma. Even here in a densely populated area of CT there are Coyote surviving quite well on the fringes (and even in) the cities.

Hope we will see more images sometime soon (or a website of the camera?). The Puma look georgious and healthy! (my favorite feline)

blind squirrel, i believe that in tina rhea's reference to bobcats versus lynx, she was specifically referring to the bleimans' text commentary rather than the photos, i.e., "regular backyard visitors include coyotes, black bears and lynx."

i would probably want a gun in that kind of environment too, seeing as i lack powerful foreclaws or enlarged canine teeth. however much more dangerous this setting may be than your "typical" urban or suburban area here on the more-or-less sterilized atlantic coast (though we too have coyotes now), imho anyone moving to albuquerque should be prepared for the impressive mammalian biodiversity it has maintained in the face of continued human encroachment. yes, it's unfortunate that solitary joggers or bikers are at greater risk for cougar predation; but working in groups is how we survived the african savanna in the first place, no? who says we shouldn't be compelled to adapt to the local fauna as they are forced to do likewise?

I, too, have critters in my back yard, or right past the fence put up to keep me from encroaching on the undeveloped land next to me. So far, it's been limited to coyotes and wild turkey. And the rabbits the coyotes feed on (good riddance).

The difference is that, instead of being in New Mexico, I'm smack dab in a long-built-up portion of the Northeast Megacity corridor. I wouldn't even know for sure that the coyotes are there, if they didn't sing from time to time at 2 AM.

My grandmother also lives in the suburbs of Tucson, and she woke up one morning to find bobcat kittens on her couch! They had been on the roof and fallen down the chimney. Needless to say, it was an exciting day. The mama bobcat still brings her litters to my grandma's back yard every year, there have been about three since the couch incident.

Crap! I want to wake up with bobcat kittens on my couch! How amazing!

Thank you for sharing,These are Beautiful creatures. They have more rights then the people that are pushing them out.
It is truly sad we can't leave them be. Hope to see more.

There was a recent mountain lion attack on a young boy in the Sandias. The 5 yo child was dragged some distance by the animal but scared off by the father. A bear or coyote will not bother a child usually.

In the middle of the city where I used to live, we could see coyotes dragging off peoples cats and small dogs regularly. The access for the critters was down Arroyo del Oso from the mountains. I assume mother coyote lived in the arroyo area and hunted the easy pickings of the neighborhood. We regularly had skunks digging up the back lawn for grubs or earth worms. I saw mother coyote walking off one morning with 'Fifi' the mini-poodle. Mmmmmmm!

Once the wildlife gets used to humans then they come back to their old hunting grounds. If there is water or pet food left out, that is just easy pickings for them.

yes you right

There was a recent mountain lion attack on a young boy in the Sandias. The 5 yo child was dragged some distance by the animal but scared off by the father. A bear or coyote will not bother a child usually.

In the middle of the city where I used to live, we could see coyotes dragging off peoples cats and small dogs regularly. The access for the critters was down Arroyo del Oso from the mountains. I assume mother coyote lived in the arroyo area and hunted the easy pickings of the neighborhood. We regularly had skunks digging up the back lawn for grubs or earth worms. I saw mother coyote walking off one morning with 'Fifi' the mini-poodle. Mmmmmmm!

Once the wildlife gets used to humans then they come back to their old hunting grounds. If there is water or pet food left out, that is just easy pickings for them.

I live right here outside ABQ. We have BOTH Lynx AND Bobcat in NM. I have guns, and none of them are for the animals pictured here, none of which are more dangerous than the average ABQ dumba$$. And no, we have not had any mountain lion attacks in recent history, with children or otherwise.

By Mr Difficult (not verified) on 16 Sep 2009 #permalink

What we HAD was a stupid father throwing rocks at a mountain lion sighted off a hiking trail, and his kid paid the price. That's not an attack, that's a defense.

By Mr Difficult (not verified) on 16 Sep 2009 #permalink

Now they want the state to control the 'overpopulation' of these animals in places people don't belong.

By Mr Difficult (not verified) on 16 Sep 2009 #permalink

I live just outside the Albq city limits on North Tramway. I just heard from a neighbor that coyotes grabbed a dog from its owner ON A LEASH on the arroyo trail at Paseo Del Norte.....

OMG! I walk my 15 lb yorkie mix on that trail without a leash several times a week!

I saw a coyote on our street once at sunset... he was HUGE - looked like a German Shepherd but for the bushy tail... he was trotting down the street like he owned the place...

I wonder if our dogs are safe behind those 6 foot fences. These stories are giving me pause.

A friend who is a hunter and guide says it's only a matter of time before the lions in the Sandias take down a lone hiker on the trail from the Tram.... he reckons there are about 60 or so on that hillside - feeding on the deer population.

By Jack Trent (not verified) on 29 Oct 2009 #permalink

new rumors from Paseo and Tramway - a coyote took a poodle from its owner on leash!

I grilled the woman who said it happened in late October in the arroyo at Paseo and Tramway - dog walkers use the trail beside the arroyo every day.

According to this woman who was biking the trail - a coyote ran up and snatched the pooch on leash - and ran off with it.

YIKES

By Georgann Marks (not verified) on 07 Dec 2009 #permalink

The arroyo at Paseo and Tramway has coyotes during the day now. A former Wildlife officer, and friend of the family says something has happened to the food sources for coyotes in the Sandias.

Perhaps the heavy snowfall is to blame as well. Coyotes are hunting family pets during the day now. that's a sign of desperation and lack of fear.

We had to get our dogs back the other day because they were ahead of us on the trail and a coyote was running after them from the other side of the arroyo. Scary.

Our pups would have run right up to it and said HI - if they'd seen the coyote before we got to them.

In all the years I've lived in Albuquerque Acres.. I've never seen a coyote in mid afternoon stalking dogs. I've never seen coyotes before dusk - and then only rarely because they don't come out before sunset.

Folks here in the Sandia Mountain foothills have also told me that owls will sometimes grab a cat. Don't know if it's true, but I always kept my cat inside here. She was perfectly content, maybe sensing what dangers lurked out there.

Yes owls will get cats. Ask me how I know.

I'm posting to report a bobcat in Albuquerque. I live near CNM on Isleta SW. Neighbors are missing their 3 legged dog, neighbor has lost two lambs and I'm missing my cat. Be warned.

Yes, there are wild animals in many places. I lived in the woods in North Central Minnesota. In the 15 yrs that we lived there, we saw bears (one went right past the outhouse when my husband was in it), skunks, a Great White Owl (they like to catch black and white cats because their normal food are skunks), a Pileated woodpecker, a Fisher, big cats and a wolf (we lived next to a corridor with a wolf pack).

Most of these animals ran when they saw us...except for the skunks...they just watched us come down the stairs at night on the way to the outhouse. They never sprayed us but they certainly weren't tame...they just knew we were not interested in hurting them.

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