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NPS vs GOAT

Peter Muennich

NPS vs GOAT
By :: Pete Muennich, RMGA President

The battle between the US National Park Service and the mountain goat is staged for 2019. Both Grand Teton Nation Park (GTNP) and Olympic National Park (ONP) are actively working towards the total eradication of goats across their landscapes in an effort to preserve native flora and fauna. Although hundreds of miles apart, the two situations share more similarities than they do differences.

Washington’s ONP is slated to continue their effort of live capturing mountain goats during two capture periods this coming summer. Last summer was the first wave of this massive project where 115 goats were successfully removed from the park. Captured goats were handed over to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WADFW) who relocated them to native goat habitat in the Cascade Mountains. A conservation win RMGA financially supported.

This July and August ONP will host their second and third wave of live capture where they hope to capture and gift another 250 animals to WADFW. The project is planning a fourth and final round of live-capture next year before switching to lethal removal after Labor Day of 2020. The park service currently plans on using vetted backcountry volunteers for the first wave of lethal removal before switching to helicopter gunning.

GTNP is also campaigning for a similar goat removal plan with a primary goal of preserving the area’s native bighorn sheep population. In recent years, the growing number of goats have generated concerns around the possibility of the goats infecting the sheep with pneumonia related pathogens that they may have contacted while migrating from the Snake River Range.

GTNP’s precautionary removal of their resident goat population will likely look very similar to what is panning out in ONP. The first wave of removal will likely be live capture followed by lethal removal by a combination of volunteers and helicopter gunners. 

RMGA has been and will continue to be actively involved in multiple facets of the ONP goat removal and look forward to also assisting GTNP as their project further develops

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