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Stray cattle removed from Bandelier

BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT, N.M. (AP)--Bandelier National Monument has finished its first attempt to remove unbranded stray cattle from the monument.

But some of the cattle died, and now monument officials are warning hikers to be aware of decomposing carcasses on the lower section of the Falls Trail and the possibility of scavengers on those carcasses.

Park officials said that as of Dec. 5, predators had not discovered the carcasses, but asked hikers to alert park staff if they see any predators.

The entire area is mountain lion habitat, and hikers should never approach a lion, particularly one feeding on a carcass, the monument said in a news release.

The cattle were removed under an agreement with the New Mexico Livestock Board and were taken to market.

Cowboys on horseback, accompanied by dogs, took nearly a week to clear out some of the more than 20 feral cattle that had been moving between the monument's Falls Trail and Alamo Canyon, Superintendent Brad Traver said Dec. 5.

The cattle, however, were very wild and could not be herded, Bandelier officials said.

The cowboys trapped 11 cattle, and removed four of them the week of Nov. 17. Officials said six other cattle died during attempts to move them up the trail, and a bull had to be shot when it repeatedly threatened the safety of a horse and rider.

Some wild cattle remain along the river corridor, including potentially aggressive bulls. The monument is working with the state Livestock Board to coordinate the removal of the remaining cattle along the Rio Grande.

"Having cattle anywhere in the park is a conflict with our mandates to protect park resources and provide for enjoyable hiking experiences," Traver said.

1/19/09
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Date: 1/9/09



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