Forest Services plans to kill 150 feral cattle in Gila Wilderness

Photo credit: Robin Silver, AP

The U.S. Forest Service plans to kill 150 feral cattle in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico this week. The decision was announced on Monday as the cattle “pose a significant threat to public safety and natural resources,” according to the Forest Service.

“This has been a difficult decision, but the lethal removal of feral cattle from the Gila Wilderness is necessary to protect public safety, threatened and endangered species habitats, water quality, and the natural character of the Gila Wilderness,” said Camille Howes, Gila National Forest Supervisor. 

The closure was in place as of Monday, Feb. 20. Aerial shooting will begin on Thursday and end on Sunday. 

The decision has sparked issues with several groups, including New Mexico’s Cattle Growing and Humane Farming associations, which filed a lawsuit to stop the aerial shooting. A hearing is set for a temporary restraining order Wednesday morning, according to USA Today.

However, Forest Service officials believe that this is the most humane way to treat the problem.

“The feral cattle in the Gila Wilderness have been aggressive towards wilderness visitors, graze year-round, and trample stream banks and springs, causing erosion and sedimentation,” said Howes. “This action will help restore the wilderness character of the Gila Wilderness enjoyed by visitors from across the country.”

The carcasses will be left onsite to decompose naturally. None will be left near any type of waterbody or spring.


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