The US Forest Service will proceed with the killing of wild cattle in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest, officials say.
The agency released its decision in a news release on Thursday, saying the wild cattle “pose a significant threat to public safety and natural resources.”
Aerial shooting of the cattle will take place from February 23 to February 26, according to the news release. The service told CNN via email that they would “lethally euthanize as many deer cattle as we can during this operation” and that “additional operations, using both lethal and non-lethal methods, will likely be necessary to put an end to the wild. cattle population.”
An estimated 150 moose live in the Gila Wilderness, a protected wilderness area in southwestern New Mexico and part of the Gila National Forest.
The feral cattle have caused problems in the Gila National Forest since the 1970s, when a rancher abandoned cattle on the Redstone Allotment within the Gila Wilderness, according to a Forest Service memo. The memo defined wild cattle as cattle without brands, ear tags or other signs of ownership.
“These cattle have not been husbanded, cared for, kept or raised on a farm by private owners for several generations, so they are not domesticated,” the service said in the memo.
Due to the difficult terrain of the forest as well as the “uncooperative wild nature of the animals” it is challenging and dangerous to capture the cattle alive for the animals and the people involved, according to the memo.
According to the service, there are two problems with anonymous cattle. First, the cattle are aggressive towards people. In the memo, the service said hikers in the Gila Wilderness have been attacked by wild bulls.
Second, the intensive grazing habits of the herbivores damaged the environment and harmed the natural habitats of native species, according to the memo. Water quality has also been damaged by cattle trampling and eroded stream banks.
“This was a difficult decision, but lethal removal of wild cattle from the Gila Wilderness is necessary to protect public safety, endangered and threatened species habitats, water quality, and the natural character of the Gila Wilderness,” Gila National Forest Ranger Camille. Howes said in the news release.
“The feral cattle in the Gila Wilderness have been aggressive toward wilderness visitors, grazing year-round, and trampling stream banks and springs, causing erosion and sedimentation,” Howes continued. “This action will help restore the unique character of the Gila Wilderness that attracts visitors from around the country.”
Some cattle ranchers are concerned that some of their branded cattle may have strayed into the Gila Wilderness in the past few years, according to the news release. The service said it is “committed to continued efforts towards collaborative solutions” and would work with farmers to locate and remove their branded cattle.
(tags Migration) agriculture