SILVER CITY, N.M. (KRQE) – State lawmakers are speaking out against a plan to kill feral cattle in the Gila Wilderness. Federal wildlife officials are working to remove the animals because they’re causing damage.

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But New Mexico cattle ranchers fear the branded cattle could be shot from a helicopter by mistake, saying it can be hard to determine which ones are actually strays. Thirty-one New Mexico lawmakers have now sent a letter to the US Forest Service urging them to reconsider.

The lawmakers say while they recognize the threat of feral cattle, they want another solution. “You know, I am in the middle of a legislative session in which we are seriously trying to address hunger issues in New Mexico and I can think the options of what we can do there are endless. it’s kind of a horrific response in how to handle estray cattle in the forest,” said Senator Crystal Diamond.

The Center for Biological Diversity is supporting the plan, saying feral cattle are a threat to the habitat and endangered species in the Gila.