By :: RMGA Member & Project Leader, Allen R. Ernst
Twenty-six volunteers headed into Washington’s Goat Rocks Wilderness Area earlier this summer to conduct a boots-on-the-ground survey of the mountain goat population across the entirety of the expansive wilderness complex. Twelve major drainage systems and their ridgelines were covered and hundreds of goats were glassed up and documented. Most of the volunteers were from Washington, but a few came from as far away as Oregon and British Columbia.
This was a project spearheaded by the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance in conjunction with Washington’s Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) and the Seattle Puget Sound Chapter of SCI. The project had two primary goals: 1) To get a nearly simultaneous headcount of the game management unit’s goats in order to determine if an increase in the unit’s annual tag allotment was warranted in the future, and 2) to monitor the health of the goats and report on the whereabouts of any that appeared to be sickly or suspected to be suffering from Movi-related pneumonia complications – the same virus that has attacked and devastated so many of Washington’s wild sheep herds. Thankfully, no sick goats were observed!
The volunteer effort was coordinated by one of RMGA’s founding members and corporate sponsor, Allen Ernst, the President of Guide Financial Group. Wilderness Athlete was made aware of the effort and provided a copious amount their amazing supplements. As several of the volunteers can attest, their Hydrate & Recover product definitely helps stave off leg cramps! At the conclusion of the weekend’s survey, SCI’s Seattle Puget Sound Chapter generously stepped up and put on a barbeque with all the fixin’s for everyone.
WDFW’s biologists were under the impression that approximately 300 goats called the Goat Rocks home. Much to their pleasant surprise, RMGA’s hard-working crew of volunteers burned up a lot of boot leather and were able to glass up and document almost 400 goats…and that’s not counting a significant ridgeline and its myriad of goat-holding basins that was not able to be covered at the last minute due to seasonal inaccessibility!
Everyone enjoyed getting out into the awe inspiring high alpine backcountry of the Goat Rocks Wilderness and participating in a resounding success for Mountain Goats in Washington!