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A plan to cull a herd of feral cows has been completed.

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An aerial shoot conducted by helicopter over the Gila Wilderness in southwest New Mexico killed 19 head of cattle, Reuters reported.

The hunters used either their sight or thermal imagery to find the wild cattle, The Associated Press reported.

The undomesticated cows were damaging the habitats of endangered species and had been confronting hikers on the federal lands, officials with the U.S. Forest Service had said.

Feral cows to be hunted by gunmen in helicopters by order of federal government

Ranchers challenged the three-day culling in court saying it was inhumane and those pulling the trigger could mistake the wild animals for privately owned or domesticated cattle. A judge said that only one of the three 300 feral cattle either captured or shot over the years had been branded.

Animal welfare groups tried to organize a roundup while New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke out about the shoot.

This was the second culling in two years that had initially targeted about 150 stray or unbranded cows, the AP reported.

The animals that were killed will be left where they fell to decompose while the Forest Service monitors the area, the AP reported.