2019 ONP Summer Mountain Goat Capture
By :: Pete Muennich
Summer of 2019 brought volunteers and helicopters back to Olympic National Park for a massive mountain goat capture a relocation project. This is the second summer of live goat captures orchestrated by the Park Service and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Park deems their resident goats non-native and are in the midst of removing them from the landscape. The RMGA is extensively involved in the successful live capture and relocation of some of the park’s mountain goats.
RMGA conservation dollars were utilized to purchase everything from GPS collars, to an additional veterinarian to help process animals, as well as funding the attendance of biologists Tom Stevenson and Kevin White to further develop their ultrasound body condition measuring techniques.
RMGA Board Members, Jason Haskell, Darryn Epp and I were in present to help handle the captured goats at the Hurricane Ridge processing site. We worked side by side with the Park Service to help get the animals safety evaluated and crated for relocation to Washington’s North Cascades.
Our days began early with 5:30am briefings before the helicopter took flight to begin the morning’s capture. Once the helicopter team successfully captured two to three goats with either nets or darts, they were hauled back to Hurricane Ridge below the chopper. Goats arrived to us hobbled, blindfolded fitted with horn guards for our protection.
Each goat was weighed before extensive biological sampling including the taking of blood and hair samples as well as nasal swabs. Once the veterinarians were had completed their work, the goats were carefully unhobbled as we ushered them into their crates. Boxed up goats were then loaded into a refrigerated truck for the drive to their new home in the North Cascades.
We are proud to be part of the restoration of some of Washington’s native goat ranges. The genetic and demographic rescuing of these native ranges is a massive conservation success. RMGA dollars will continue to be allocated in the assisting of the Park Service’s ongoing live capture efforts. Live capture could possibly continue into the summer of 2020 before switching to lethal removal.