BY ARIEL PERRAGLIO
New Mexico Department Of Game & Fish
Editor’s note: The following is the public comment made by Ms. Perraglio on Tuesday evening during the Los Alamos County Council meeting
I’m here today to introduce the idea or thought of creating an ordinance against feeding wildlife in Los Alamos.
In the past six years NMDGF has seen a significant increase in calls and complaints about negative human/wildlife interactions in Los Alamos. Since January 1, 2022 to current date, I personally have received 58 emails concerning wildlife. All of these emails were in reference to bears, mountain lions and deer and do not include calls about skunks, raccoons and coyotes.
Aside from creating negative human wildlife interactions, feeding of wildlife, whether intentional or not, is detrimental to the health of wildlife. To provide a simple visual example, many of you have likely seen the large tumor like growths on the bodies of mule deer in town. These are known as Fibropapillomas, which are similar to warts. They occur in deer that are in unnatural close quarters, specifically where deer are being fed. You will also notice some of these deer have drooping ears, and that is due to mites in the ears, also a product of being in unnatural close quarters.
In the past year officers have responded to multiple calls about mountain lions killing, and caching mule deer in peoples yards. These caches have to be removed because mountain lions will almost always return to a cached carcass to feed. This creates an obvious human safety concern. In addition, NMDGF officers have responded to several calls about mountain lions killing goats, sheep and chickens in town. The behavior of killing deer in yards, and killing livestock in town is not natural, or safe. It is simply because we have created an easy food source for prey and predators, making them reliant on humans for survival.
In 2020 a woman was attacked by a bear at the ski hill in Los Alamos. This boar was feeding on trash in a trash can before the attack occurred. I do not have the exact count of calls for bears in Los Alamos for the past several years, but I assure you it consumes a significant amount of officers’ time in the summer.
Failing to recognize, and address this problem is first and foremost a human safety concern. We have already seen at least one wildlife/human attack in Los Alamos. Second, it is failing our wildlife by causing human habituation and reliance for survival.
In 2019 Ruidoso passed an ordinance against feeding wildlife.
Durango has a similar ordinance against feeding wildlife, including leaving trash receptacles unsecured, inadvertently attracting wildlife.
Arizona has a state law prohibiting the feeding of wildlife.
An ordinance against feeding wildlife in Los Alamos would be a huge step in the right direction for protecting humans and wildlife alike. If there are any questions, mine and my supervisor’s department cell phone numbers are listed on the NMDGF website.