New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Archive News Releases 2007-2013

Visit the NMDGF website for current news and events.


New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000





PINOS ALTOS, N.M. - Trash kills.

It's a story repeated regularly throughout New Mexico every year. A black bear learns about all the great-smelling, tasty trash campers leave behind, and eventually it loses its fear of people. Then it becomes a nuisance in that or some other nearby campground.

Or maybe it wanders down to the nearest mountain town, and starts living out of dumpsters and trash cans. Ultimately, someone calls the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish to come deal with the "problem bear."

On June 26 the Department killed a 150-pound male black bear in Pinos Altos because it had killed 26 chickens, injured a goat and chased other livestock. It had no fear of people, and often was seen looking in windows of local houses. The agency set a trap for the bear six days earlier, but the property damage continued and finally the bear was killed.

That bear started down this road to ruin when it discovered trash.

A similar scenario played out in the Sandia Mountains on June 16. A female bear known to frequent the 9 Mile Campground near Sandia Park was killed after it climbed into a house - twice.

Bears really aren't the problem, trash is. Many campers don't handle their trash properly. They leave chip bags lying around like cookies at Christmas. They leave sweet-smelling bottles of sports drinks lying around campgrounds as if they are natural mulch. That trash leads to bears, raccoons and other wildlife becoming habituated to the smell and taste of human food.

Besides creating the wildlife management problem know as "nuisance bears," trash creates other problems for the Department of Game and Fish that are often costly and take conservation officers and wildlife biologists away from their primary duties.

Early in June, the Department had to hire a Hazmat team to clean three trailers full of trash out of seven vault toilets at the State Game-Commission owned properties along the Pecos River. It took three days. There were also bottles left all over the property - water bottles, beer bottles, soda bottles, whiskey bottles, tequila bottles. Some of the bottles were melted in the available fire pits, or broken, creating a dangerous nuisance.

The Department of Game and Fish paid $6,242.19 in June to pull trash out of the seven vault toilets in the canyon. It also paid $2,336.52 in June to pump human waste out of the trash-free toilets. This occurred just 10 days after the Upper Pecos Watershed Association did its own clean up along the river.

Trash disposal is expensive, and if not done right it leads to nuisance and/or dead bears. When you travel to the National Forests, State Game Commission-owned lands, or other State properties to celebrate the July 4 Holiday,   please take a few minutes to shed some of the pounds and pounds of trash you might be tempted to pack along with you. Here are some ideas of how you can do that:

  • Take a 5-gallon jug of water, and not a case of those small plastic bottles.
  • Use fresh fruits and vegetables, not canned.
  • Use a Dutch oven instead of wrapping everything in tin foil.
  • Take a big bag of cookies instead of the individually wrapped, 100-calorie packets.
  • Carry a trash bag and USE IT!
  • Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it.
  • Take your trash home with you, where you can dispose of it properly.  

Littering is a crime. It also kills bears and other wildlife. It costs your state wildlife agency lots of money to remove; money that could be better spent improving Game Commission-owned properties rather than hauling away your garbage.

Trash kills - budgets and bears.

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LAS CRUCES -- Limited angling opportunities for Gila trout will open July 1, 2007, in select streams in southwestern New Mexico that have been closed to fishing since 1966, when the Gila trout was first listed as a federal endangered species. The State Game Commission approved the changes based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to downlist the Gila trout from endangered to threatened.

The new regulations allow the Department of Game and Fish to open angling opportunities for Gila trout and open select streams that previously have been closed to all fishing. Opportunities and rule changes include:

Limited angling will be allowed for Gila trout in Black Canyon Creek from July 1 through September 30 as a Special Trout Water. Fishing will be catch-and-release only with artificial flies or lures and a single barbless hook.

Iron Creek will be open for year-round angling as a Special Trout Water with a two-fish daily limit. Fishing will be with artificial flies or lures and a single barbless hook.

Regular trout water rules will apply to McKenna Creek and Sacaton Creek, with no tackle or bait restrictions and a bag limit of five fish per day and no more than 10 in possession.

Everyone who fishes in Black Canyon and Iron Creek must have a Gila Trout Permit along with a valid New Mexico fishing license. Permits are free and are available on the "Buy licenses online" feature of the Department website, .

Upper Black Canyon currently is open to daytime fishing but temporarily closed for camping and at night because of a nearby forest fire. The Aspen Fire, designated as a wildland fire use fire by the U.S. Forest Service, is burning about two miles from Black Canyon. A wildland fire use fire is a naturally caused fire that is being allowed to burn but is closely monitored. The closure area covers eight miles from the mouth of Bonner Creek to the crest of the Black Range Mountains. Overnight camping will be allowed downstream of the fire from the mouth of Bonner Creek to the private property boundary.

The lightning-caused Aspen fire was 72 acres June 29 and was exhibiting low intensity behavior. It has spread very little in the past few days. It is in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness, four miles east of Lower Black Canyon off Forest Road 150, which runs between the Mimbres Valley and Beaverhead. The objectives are to allow it to burn and reduce fuels and improve wildlife and riparian habitats. If the fire intensifies, fire managers will inform people to vacate the area and evaluate the need for a full temporary closure.

Access to Black Canyon can be challenging because of adjacent private property. For more information about access routes or other details, please contact Annette Gomez with the Wilderness Ranger District, (505) 536-2250.  

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