Local wildlife expert serves county

Tova Fruchtman: Quay County Sun

Ron Jones is the area wildlife expert.

If there is a bird’s nest in the gutter, a rabid skunk like the one recently found in San Jon, or coyotes eating calves in pastures he’s the one to call.

Jones, who works for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and New Mexico State University, has been trapping wild animals since he was a child.

He and his brothers earned money by trapping animals for furs in elementary school.

By high school Jones had found two mentors J.T. Davidson and Floyd L. Sutton, and was trapping coyotes for bounty, he said.

Years later he decided to put his trapping skills to work and become a wildlife specialist.

Since calving season began in early January Jones has been busy trying to protect the vulnerable calf and the ranchers1 livelihood.

Pete Walden the extension agricultural agent at the Quay County Extension Office said he directs ranchers to Jones when they are having problems with dying calves.

Walden said losing cattle to coyotes is a major concern that can cost ranchers hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.

“This time of the year I’m extremely busy,” Jones said. “I need to be as efficient as I can.”

From coyotes to bobcats and neighborhood dogs to stillborns Jones said he must investigate the cause of the problem to fix it correctly.

“The whole thing about the investigation is to know what you1re after,” he said.

Jones can tell by looking at a calves hide whether a bobcat, coyote or mountain lion killed the calf.

“About 95 percent of the time I find a dead calf, coyotes have probably killed it,” he said.

Now Jones spends much of his time checking the cyanide gun traps he uses to kill coyotes on area ranches.

The guns shoot a small dose of cyanide into the coyote1s mouth after he takes a bite of the bait on it.

The cyanide turns to gas in his mouth and kills the coyote within 30 seconds.

Jones has access to the use of the gun as a certified wildlife specialist trained in federal regulations.

He said there are 26 rules to follow in order to operate the cyanide guns.

Jones said it is important to be humane but it is also important to protect the ranchers1 livelihood.

“I love helping people, and I love being outside,” said Jones.

He is paid by the University, the state and the county, and his services are available free of charge to all Quay County ranchers.