New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (505) 476-8000
dan.williams@state.nm.us

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, SEPT. 12, 2008:

INVESTIGATION FINDS NO OIL IN SAN JUAN RIVER
APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR ELK-BUGLING, WOLF-TRACKING TOURS
DEPARTMENT SEEKS INFORMATION ABOUT WOUNDED BEAR

 

INVESTIGATION FINDS NO OIL IN SAN JUAN RIVER

NAVAJO DAM -- An investigation by two state agencies found no evidence of "oil sludge" that was reported in the San Juan River below Navajo Dam in late August.

The Oil Conservation Division of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, and the Department of Game and Fish investigated the report after receiving a video showing a dark-brown substance in the river about four miles downstream from the trophy trout Quality Waters  section. Site inspections and an analysis of the video turned up no evidence of oil, and no signs of dead or dying fish or other wildlife.

Investigators determined that the most likely explanation for the report was that a large amount of organic debris was flushed out of an arroyo during a heavy rain storm. Organic materials such as piñon needles, juniper berries and salt cedar branches contain natural oils and could be mistaken for oil field byproducts.

The San Juan basin is a major producer of natural gas. There also is one oil well in the basin near the Colorado border.

"The San Juan is one of New Mexico's most prized fisheries, so we take these kinds of reports seriously," said Mike Sloane, Chief of Fisheries for the Department of Game and Fish. "Fortunately, after a thorough investigation, we are able to say there was no evidence of oil in the river, and the fishing -- as always -- is world-class."

Marc Wethington, fisheries biologist with the Department, said fishing usually improves in late September as angling pressure subsides and cooler, shorter days make the trout more active. He suggests that anglers check with their favorite guide or fishing shop for advice on the best tackle and techniques for the season.

"All-in-all, it will be a pretty typical fall for fishing on the San Juan," Wethington said.

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APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR ELK-BUGLING, WOLF-TRACKING TOURS

SANTA FE -- Fall is one of the best times of the year to watch wildlife, and the Department of Game and Fish is again offering special guided tours in elk and wolf country through the Gaining Access into Nature program.

Applications are being accepted for a Sept. 27 tour to experience bugling elk on the Sargent Wildlife Area near Chama, and Oct. 17, 18 and 19 tours focusing on radio-tracking Mexican wolves in the Gila National Forest. Department of Game and Fish personnel will be guides on all tours.

Tour applications only can be found online at http://wildlife.state.nm.us/recreation/gain/index.htm.  Application fees are $8. Successful applicants will be charged $74 for a tour. Application deadlines are Sept. 19 for the elk tour, and Oct. 3 for the wolf tours.

For more information about GAIN or how to apply, please contact Clint Henson, (575) 445-2311 or clint.henson@state.nm.us.

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DEPARTMENT SEEKS INFORMATION ABOUT WOUNDED BEAR

RATON -- The Department of Game and Fish would like to know who illegally shot and wounded a bear in July or early August, resulting in the bear having to be euthanized.

Officers believe the bear was shot with a large-caliber handgun in or near Raton. The crippled bear was tranquilized Sept. 2 and taken to the Wildlife Center in Espanola, where veterinarians euthanized it because its wounds were so severe.

Attempting to shoot a bear within the Raton city limits is illegal, as is killing or attempting to kill a bear out of season or without a hunting license. While property owners have the right to protect themselves or their property, other, safer means of dealing with problem wildlife are preferred. Officers also emphasized that shooting firearms in town is much more dangerous than any threat posed by a bear, and a wounded bear is a much greater threat to the community.

The Department offers rewards for information that leads to the arrest or charges against wildlife law violators. Please call toll-free, (800) 432-4263 if you have any information regarding this or any other wildlife crime. Callers can remain anonymous and receive $250 for information about cases involving bears.

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