Feral Cattle Issue Needs Strong Action


The US Department of Energy (DOE) owns land around Los Alamos to the east and north. They own part of White Rock Canyon between Bandelier National Monument and the popular hiking area managed by Los Alamos County. The DOE owns parts of Rendija, Sandia, and Los Alamos Canyons.  Recently, feral cattle have moved into all of these areas and they are doing extensive damage to the landscape and wildlife habitat.

An ever-growing herd of wild cattle live in White Rock Canyon and they have grazed off native grasses, trampled the streams, spread fecal waste and weeds. Walk the Blue Dot Trail and be ready to meet a large bull protecting his cows and calves. Cattle also infest Guaje Canyon, Rendija Canyon and they’ve been fouling our family graves at Guaje Pines. In Los Alamos Canyon below the ice rink, cattle are destroying streamside vegetation, critical to birds and fish. You can find cattle by the road near the Y. Anyone who hits one of these cows with their car may not live to tell about it.

The DOE may feel it has more important things to do than remove land-trashing cattle. But the DOE does have an obligation to maintain the quality of the environment on their lands and to protect the public.

The National Park Service at Bandelier is fencing their land off from DOE land to keep cattle out of Bandelier. Any cows who enter the park are killed by rangers. The DOE and LA County should use the same tactics to eliminate the feral cattle on their lands. Herding probably won’t work. In a time of severe drought, this problem needs strong action.

Tom Ribe