Marita Noon: U.S. Government releases predators against its own people

Commentary by Marita Noon - Many times the sound of howling and yelping coyotes awake me from a sound and cozy slumber. I sit bolt upright in my bed as my sleep-filled brain tries to calculate where my critters are and whether or not they are safe. The dogs on the floor beside me, the cat on the foot of the bed, I roll over and go back to sleep.
      In the years that I've lived in the mountains outside Albuquerque, I've lost three cats and three ducks to coyotes. I know they are natural predators and if my pets are outside, there is a chance they’ll fall prey. I hear the coyotes, but I hardly see them. They don’t generally come close to humans. They are after the squirrels and rabbits—and an occasional cat or duck.
      But that could all change due to a new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) plan to expand the area for the Mexican grey wolf reintroduction. The current plan calls for virtually all the southern half of New Mexico to become wolf habitat—but wolf advocates at a hearing about the plan, held in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on Wednesday, August 13, repeatedly declared that Southern New Mexico wasn’t enough. They want the wolf introduced north of I-40—which would include Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Some called for wolves to be released in the Grand Canyon and the Four Corners area.
      Wolves are master predators—and they are enemies of coyotes. Wolves attack bigger prey: deer and elk, horses and cattle—but are known to carry off a dog or cat as well. The wolves that are a part of the reintroduction program are not afraid of people and will come right up to a house if they are hungry. Read full column

UNM soccer coach gets suspension

 University of New Mexico women's soccer coach Kit Vela has been suspended for a week without pay and 22 players will be suspended for one game over a hazing incident. 
Athletic director Paul Krebs says he expects Vela's suspension to begin immediately, but university policy dictates she has 10 days to appeal. Krebs says assistant coaches Jorge Vela and Krista Foo will receive letters of reprimand. 
School officials say last Sunday's hazing involved seven true freshmen and two were taken to the hospital for excessive alcohol consumption. Twin sisters Danielle and Devin Scelsi quit the team Monday, withdrew from school and returned to their home in Orange County, California
On Tuesday, Krebs announced the team's season opener Friday at Texas Tech was canceled.


Rattlesnake sightings in the rise in Southern NM

Officials in southeastern New Mexico say sightings of one of the most lethal rattlesnakes appear to be on the rise. 

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported Saturday that the Eddy County Sheriff's Department says more snakes have been spotted in yards this year, including the Mojave rattler. The New Mexico Game and Fish Department says the snake is a type of pit viper that has fangs infused with a neurotoxin that is more potent than some other rattlesnakes. Treatment for a bite from a Mojave rattler requires different anti-venom.

Carlsbad Medical Center says they have already treated five patients for snake bite wounds this year. Experts say the rattler recently migrated from California and Arizona.