Nineteen wild cows have been shot and killed with rifles from a helicopter by federal employees in a New Mexico wilderness area. The killing was criticized by animal welfare groups, ranchers and the state’s governor.
In the United States, some states and federal agencies allow aerial hunting or killing of certain animals, such as wolves, coyotes, and pigs. This involves shooting the animals from helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft, usually using high-powered rifles.
Aerial hunting is controversial and has been widely criticized by animal welfare and conservation groups for being inhumane, unethical, and indiscriminate. It can also harm non-target species and disrupt ecosystems.
Supporters argue that it is an effective way to control animal populations considered pests or predators.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) said the three-day killing operation of the cows was necessary because the animals were bothering hikers in the Gila Wilderness of southwest New Mexico.
Animal welfare organization Cathy Kangas Foundation for Animals said it offered the USFS to pay for a roundup but didn’t hear back from them, and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said the USFS failed to engage with locals over the issue.
The aerial shoot targeted an estimated 150 stray cows, but four flights over the Gila’s mountains and canyons found a fraction of that number, the USFS said.