New Mexico

Wildlife: The Wonders and the Precautions

Helpful hints for sharing Santa Fe Canyon with some very wild neighbors.

One of the benefits of living near Santa Fe Canyon is that residents share the area with wildlife. The ability to view wildlife is something most residents enjoy and want to preserve.

Bear, bobcat, coyote, cougar, raccoon and beaver are often seen along the Santa Fe River, which serves as a natural corridor from the mountains through town. To insure that these wildlife do not become a nuisance it is important to take some precautions. 

Do not feed wildlife or leave compost, refuse, seed or other attractants in locations accessible to wildlife. Municipal refuse bins are not bear proof, and can be easily overturned and accessed by bear and raccoon. 

A “fed bear is a dead bear” in most instances; bears quickly become habituated to foraging around homes and rapidly lose their fear of humans. A mother bear (sow) will teach her cubs similar foraging techniques; the result is the need to relocate or kill the nuisance bears.

If a bear visits your property, but is not a nuisance, observe it from inside your home and do not approach it. Gather fruit from any fruit trees as it ripens, and don’t allow it to accumulate. If possible, store garbage inside until your scheduled pick-up day in order to avoid converting a wild bear into a nuisance bear. 

When hiking with dogs, obey leash laws. A mother bear with cubs will defend them aggressively and a loose dog will often lead an aggressive bear right back to you. Please remember dogs are not permitted on either The Nature Conservancy’s Santa Fe Canyon Preserve loop trail or the Audubon Center trails.  

Beaver are becoming more abundant in the canyon and young beaver often disperse seeking new territory.

If you see beaver or observe beaver activity on your property and would prefer that they not set up shop, consider installing fence around trees you want to protect. For tree protection ideas check out the Beavers: Wetlands and Wildlife website. If beavers do set up shop on your stretch of the river and you don’t think you can tolerate their presence, contact David Blagg at or call (505) 660-6645). David has a wealth of experience in managing beaver, which he is willing to share. He is also licensed by the state wildlife agency to live trap and relocate beaver if no other solution can be found.

If you feed birds, locate feeders so they can not be easily accessed by other wildlife. Keep feeders a safe distance from your house.  

If you see bear or other animals using the feeders, remove them. It’s also a good idea to stop feeding birds if you can’t seem to keep mice out of your house as spilled bird seed attracts large numbers of rodents. 

Robert Findling,
Director of Land Protection and Stewardship
The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico