No, this isn’t a headline from the Babylon Bee.
The Federal Government recently announced plans to shoot feral cattle from helicopters to help protect the environment.
The U.S. Forest Service approved a plan to fly a helicopter over the Gila National Forest to shoot wild cattle, which environmentalists claim are causing damage to rivers and streams with their mouths and hooves, local outlet KOB 4 reported.
Forest Supervisor Camille Howes said the decision was difficult but necessary.
“The feral cattle in the Gila Wilderness have been aggressive towards wilderness visitors, graze year-round, and trample stream banks and springs, causing erosion and sedimentation,” she said in a statement.
As The Daily Mail reported:
Ranchers say fewer people are maintaining fences, and gone are the rural neighbors who used to help corral wayward cows.
Some have left the business because of worsening drought, making water scarce for cattle, and skyrocketing costs for feed and other supplies.
The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association estimates roughly 90 grazing parcels are vacant in New Mexico and Arizona.
Increased use of public lands – including hunting and hiking – also has resulted in knocked-down fences, the association said. Elk, too, are to blame for damaging fences meant to keep cows in check.
Tom Paterson, chair of the association’s wildlife committee, said the group has tried to find a solution that wouldn’t involve shooting feral cattle.
He pointed to a recent directive issued by the New Mexico Livestock Board that allows neighboring permittees to gather and herd the cattle out.
With snow on the ground, access is limited. Paterson said federal officials are not giving enough time to see if the directive will work.
His organization also has accused the US Forest Service of skirting its own regulations that call for a roundup first, and shooting as the last resort.
“Easy is not an exception to their own rules. Frustration is not an exception to the rules,” Patterson said.
“Our society should be better than this. We can be more creative and do it a better way where you’re not wasting an economic resource,” he added.
Ranchers also argue the plan is cruel and inhumane.
“Our society should be better than this,” Tom Paterson of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association said in a statement. “We can be more creative and do it a better way where you’re not wasting an economic resource.”
According to a report from NBC, ranchers are also concerned about wolves becoming used to eating cattle and coming closer to ranches in order to find more to eat.