A feral bull is seen along the Gila River in the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico, on July 25, 2020. U.S. forest managers in New Mexico are moving ahead with plans to kill feral cattle that they say have become a threat to public safety and natural resources in the nation's first designated wilderness, setting the stage for more legal challenges over how to handle wayward livestock. (©Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity via AP)
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By Susan Montoya Bryan, AP

New Mexico’s governor has stepped into the fight over how federal land managers are eradicating wild cows in the Gila Wilderness.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a statement Friday saying she was disappointed by what she described as the U.S. Forest Service’s lack of meaningful, long-term engagement with stakeholders on a controversial issue.

The Forest Service is currently conducting an aerial shooting operation to kill as many as 150 “unauthorized” cows in a vast area of steep rugged valleys and mountainsides blanketed with trees.

The operation has been the source of legal wrangling and protests by the agricultural community in southwestern New Mexico.

Federal officials and environmentalists contend the animals are trampling stream banks and damaging habitat for other species. Ranchers argue the operation amounts to animal cruelty and that the cows could have been rounded up and removed instead of letting their carcasses rot in the wilderness.

A federal judge cleared the way for the operation Wednesday when he denied a request by ranchers for a delay.

The governor said she has shared her concerns with federal officials and asked them to do better.

“Whether debating prescribed burns or wildlife management, it is imperative that New Mexicans who live and work in and near impacted areas are allowed the time to be meaningfully involved in these decisions,” Lujan Grisham said. “When that does not occur, it fosters a continued climate of distrust and hinders progress toward our shared goals of a healthy environment and a thriving rural economy.”

“As it stands, they are failing New Mexicans,” she said.

A feral bull is seen along the Gila River in the Gila Wilderness in southwestern New Mexico. (©Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity via AP)

The Forest Service said Friday it shares the governor’s values when it comes to conservation and public engagement and will remain committed to transparency.

Agency spokesperson Ivan Diego Knudsen said there have been extensive discussions with stakeholders over the past several years and the agency has tried to address concerns. He said those discussions with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, the New Mexico Livestock Board and the ranching community will continue.

“Our hope is to work with cattle producers so that we can achieve more effective operations than have occurred in the past,” Knudsen said in a statement.

The agency said it supports “an integrated approach that may include both gathers and aerial removals to best meet our shared vision” for the wilderness area.

Ranchers in court documents had argued that the agency was skipping the steps of rounding up the cattle and impounding them, opting instead for the last resort of gunning them down. Their attorney said in court that the operation had the potential to result in an estimated 65 tons (59 metric tons) of dead animals being left in the wilderness for months until they decompose or are eaten by scavengers.

The Gila National Forest issued its final decision to gun down the wayward cattle last week amid pressure from environmental groups that have raised concerns about unchecked grazing in sensitive areas.

Todd Schulke, co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity, said his group believes the Forest Service has done its best to address the damage done by feral cattle in the least impactful way possible.

The cattle in question are the descendants of cows that legally grazed the area in the 1970s before the owner went out of business. Federal officials have made several attempts over the last couple of decades to remove the animals, including a similar shooting operation in 2022 that took out 65 cows in two days.

The Forest Service said it would release results early next week once the operation is concluded.

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  1. So, licensing citizens to hunt and claim the meat is not even considered? Smells like the Feds caving to the wake environmentalists. Maybe the Feds are the woke environmentalists.

    • “Unauthorized cows”. Hmm.

      So we’ll spend money and effort to address unauthorized cows, but not work to secure the same area from unauthorized people…

  2. Because clearly she’s got the rest of the state in such good shape, this is at the top of her list now. Sigh.

  3. I wonder. Do people feel better when their civil rights are being taken away by a female governor???
    Instead of a male governor. Since they can’t wait to vote to put a woman in charge.

  4. Gov. Grisham better be careful with that heretical rhetoric. Everyone with a (D) by their name must adhere to the philosophy that the folks in D.C. know better than the locals and shut up and obey. For the greater good.

  5. Her Majesty is busy trying to disarm the citizens of her state. With this statement she is just trying to curry favor with the rural inhabitants. She’s a poison little dwarf; don’t listen to her bull*

  6. Put the homeless undocumented migrants to work rounding them up and processing them for food. Bet them ungrateful motherfuckers would quit throwing away sandwiches we gave them.

    • “Bet them ungrateful motherfuckers would quit throwing away sandwiches we gave them.”

      Watching the bastards trash hotel rooms and throw away food because it isn’t up to their standards pisses me off to no end. Didn’t take long for this trash to show their true colors. These pricks will be screwing us and sucking off the system till they die. FJB! Bastard has already let the next 911 across the border. Stupid Mfer!

  7. Yeah, I know it’s an “i” instead of an “e” but still, too bad that governor’s nickname isn’t Grits. Would be a different place.

  8. All cattle are basically feral unless they’re locked up in a pen. I can tell you from experience them cattle that live in the timber get meaner then hell for some reason, hard to get out of it too. Our pasture land got a little over grazed during a drought and we fenced in some timber, lordy that was a bitch.

  9. Any ranchers who really wanted some of that beef could have gone out, and rounded them up. Hogs, beef, whatever, if the animal is feral, no one owns it, you can just go out and trap it or herd it where you want it. I have no sympathy or empathy for those who allowed things to go this far. Every rancher in the region has known for years that the cattle were out there.

    • I’m not a rancher but I seriously doubt that you can wrangle feral cattle and integrate into your livestock. Something something asshole gov’t something.

    • Knowing they are there and being allowed to wrangle them isn’t the same.
      We have a beef shortage in this country right now and shooting them and letting them rot isn’t the best we can do.

      • The communists in D C want to eliminate any and all food sources that we get so they will have the power to say, ” comply or starve’.

  10. As someone who was a rancher for part their life, I do agree with the ranchers to at least give them a crack and rounding the wild cattle up and bringing them to managed pasture lands. Just coming up by decree that the government is just going to “shoot them all” is number one, a lousy and indefensible PR move and number two, very wasteful. Give the ranchers a month to round up what they can and after that, then go ahead and eradicate the rest having some organization volunteer to go butcher them up to use for a homeless shelter or other worthy cause.

  11. The different things our food animals eat make them taste better or not. Feral hogs(especially boars) are nasty tasting, I don’t want any. I suspect that feral cattle also have a gamey taste. We are not talking about steers or barrows here, so you just go ahead and cook your steaks.

    • The same with Bison.
      It’s chewy and gamey tasting.
      I have eaten it twice and never will again.
      CC is smart because the beef can be labeled
      “USDA Certified organic grass fed beef.”
      The $6/lb ground beef comes from Australia.
      I have no idea why it says USDA Certified.
      The steaks taste like well, steaks, isn’t Kobe but it’s $15/lb.
      Kobe is a bit more expensive.

  12. ‘Failing New Mexicans’

    You mean that new Mexican residents that come here aren’t succeeding?

    What about the old Mexicans? Is there a test that I don’t know about?

  13. Typical government response — spend taxpayer money on a problem when a free solution is available. Why not allow licensed hunters to harvest the cattle at no expense to the taxpayer? They harvest wild game (deer, elk, antelope, bear) in those same areas anyway and pack out the meat for their own consumption. They could do the same thing with the feral cattle and not cost the taxpayer a dime. A ‘range cow’ weighs anywhere from 600-1,000 lbs. on the hoof with useable meat about 30-40% of live weight. Of course, that solution makes too much sense and is contrary to government policy.

  14. I keep reading that this is a wild, vast, undeveloped area. I don’t know how many square miles or thousands of acres we are talking about and I also don’t know just exactly how many bovines we are talking about but it seems to me if we are talking about a couple hundred bovines in a “vast, undeveloped, wild area” the damage they are doing is going to pretty minimal. That just seems like a goober mint excuse to get some range time for goober mint shooters.


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