NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A district court has ruled the Forest Service plans to shoot feral cattle in the Gila Wilderness this week can move forward.

Forest officials are planning to send snipers on Thursday to shoot and kill 150 cattle in the area.

“We applaud the judge’s decision upholding the hard work done by the Forest Service to protect the Gila, America’s first wilderness,” said Todd Schulke, co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The American people will get clean water, a healthy river, and quality wildlife habitat out of the deal.”

The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association opposed the plan. They claimed it would be hard to identify branded cattle from the air.

A district court judge disagreed and said the rancher’s cattle in the area were unlikely to be hurt.

Officials claim feral cattle destroy ecosystems by overgrazing, destroying water banks, and polluting water sources.