SANTA FE, N.M. (Reuter) -- A federal judge Friday blocked a controversial buffalo hunt planned on a U.S. military base this weekend following protests by local Indians and animal rights activists. Judge Martha Vasquez issued a 10-day injunction halting the hunt and will hold a hearing later this month to consider claims the U.S. Army should have conducted an environmental impact study before allowing the hunt. Nine hunters have been selected by lottery to kill nine bulls in the state's official herd of 60 buffalos. The bison graze at Fort Wingate, a 10,000-acre installation near the city of Gallup in western New Mexico. The last public buffalo hunt in New Mexico was held in 1884. By the turn of the century, 500 buffalo were left. About 100,000 bison now live in North America. American Indians revered the bison, killing them for food while honoring the majestic animal in ceremonies before and after the hunts, said Gerald Nailor, governor of the Picuris Pueblo. Local tribes were outraged that the hunt was little more than a slaughter of nearly tame animals that would yield trophy bison heads for the hunters, he said. Wildlife officials said the hunt was necessary to reduce the number of breeding-age bulls in the small herd. Federal officials said the hunt could be held without the extensive analysis being sought by the tribes and activists. We'll submit whatever legal materials or documents are necessary to satisfy the court, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Zavitz said.
For more information on the work against the buffalo hunt in New Mexico contact Sangre de Cristo Animal Protection, Inc. (SdeCAP) at 505/265-2322. Email: SdeCAP@aol.com.
Contributed by Lawrence Carter-Long.
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