February 23, 2023

Court rejects cattle growers’ request to stop the shooting of Gila feral cattle

Center for Biological Diversity

A U.S. District Court judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order filed by the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association in an attempt to stop the aerial shooting of the feral cattle in the Gila Wilderness.

In his order, Judge James Browning ruled that preventing the U.S. Forest Service and its contractor, the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, from conducting the shooting operation would adversely impact the public interest. Browning further pointed to a scoping letter that the Forest Service issued in November as sufficient notice to the livestock owners in the Gila area of the intent to lethally remove the cattle.

One of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ arguments in the case was that the U.S. Forest Service had agreed to give 75-days notice prior to an aerial shooting operation. The cattle growers were informed on Feb. 16 that the shooting would occur.

“We are disappointed the Court decided it will not stop the USFS from its slaughter campaign,” cattle growers association president Loren Patterson said in a press release. “Cattle Growers’ is dedicated to the long-term stewardship of New Mexico’s animals and land. Our industry and members recognize the right thing to do is not always the easiest or cheapest. We will continue to fight for the ethical and humane treatment of estray cattle in the Gila.”

The New Mexico Cattle Growers were joined in the suit by the Humane Farming Association.

The aerial shooting operation comes after past roundups have not eliminated the feral herd that has been damaging riparian areas for decades. The Forest Service says the cattle are aggressive and could threaten people recreating in the area.