The US Forest Service is closing the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico for several days to cull feral cattle from the area. The decision was made following complaints of aggression by the feral cattle towards visitors and damage to stream banks and springs caused by trampling. Environmentalists have welcomed the move, arguing that cattle have caused significant environmental damage. The Center for Biological Diversity has argued that the situation in the Gila Wilderness is particularly pressing due to the area’s importance as a habitat for endangered species.

The operation will cover around 160 square miles. It will see a helicopter with shooters targeting the feral cattle. This operation will take place in rugged areas around the Gila River. It is expected to be complete before April. The Forest Service estimates that the feral cattle problem dates back to the closure of a cattle operation. This operation shut down half a century ago, which led to grazing permits being suspended.

Shooting Cattle From Helicopters

The US Forest Service has removed hundreds of unauthorized cattle over the years. However, ranchers argue that fewer people are now available to maintain fences. Likewise, drought and rising feed costs have driven some out of the industry. The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association is calling for a non-lethal solution to be found. However, the Forest Service has argued that shooting cattle is necessary. It has also defended its approach against accusations from ranchers that it is not adhering to its own regulations.

The Forest Service’s move to cull the feral cattle has highlighted a shift in the position of the environmental community. Lawsuits brought by groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity over the years have sought to have cattle removed from public lands, arguing that they cause significant environmental damage. Some have praised the Forest Service’s decision, arguing that it will lead to cleaner water and a healthier environment for wildlife.

While the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has asked for the Forest Service to hold off on lethal action for a year, after an agreement was reached following a similar operation in 2021, the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association is expected to challenge the latest decision.

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So, what are your thought on this planned gunning? Do you think another option should be looked for or not? Let us know in the comments!

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