SILVER CITY, N.M. (KRQE) – The push to stop the killing of feral cattle in the Gila National Forest continues and now New Mexico lawmakers are joining the fight. Sixty-five feral cattle have been shot and killed in the Gila National Forest during a U.S. Forest Service operation this month.

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Some groups like the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association tried to prevent it. “This goes against everything that we work for as an industry. It was just a big waste of resources. Those animals could have gone into feeding young, feeding old, feeding the poor, almost anything other than just feeding wolves,” says Loren Patterson, president of NMCGA. 

Federal Wildlife officials say the cattle need to be removed because they’re damaging the environment. Local groups are working with Representative Yvette Herrell’s office to investigate the situation. They say they want the carcasses removed.

“That is just unacceptable with what that could potentially do to the quality of water. We want at least those cattle removed. The Forest Service is saying they did not shoot those cows. I find that a little hard to believe,” says Rep. Herrell. 

Patterson continues, “We have animals that were wounded and left to suffer, animals that ended up in the Gila River and left to die so the waterway was affected and we have wolves eating on those carcasses.”

Right now the area is still closed. “We have no idea whether those animals were owned by any of our members, our people who have allotments, grazing allotments near there.”

On Thursday, Congresswoman Herrell sent a letter to the U.S. Forest Service asking for more information on who gave final approval for these operations, the cost, and more. “This is not the way we take care of things in New Mexico and we want more answers, we want more involvement with stakeholders and we will continue to press the forest service on this issue.”

Rep. Herrell says she invited the director of the u-s forest service to visit the Gila and meet with stakeholders. She says he agreed but no date is set in place for the visit.