Federal and state wildlife managers now have the green light to begin removing those white-coated denizens of the Olympic Mountains.
The National Park Service issued its final record of decision to mostly translocate mountain goats off the peninsula to the North Cascades starting this summer, and kill those that prove too hard to capture.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service to relocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a press release. “In turn, we support the state, the U.S. Forest Service, and area tribes to re-establish sustainable populations of goats in the Washington Cascades, where goats are native, and populations have been depleted.”
Efforts will begin this summer to move as many of the 725 goats as possible to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, supplementing scattered herds there.
Though native to those parts of Washington, the species was introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s for hunting.
Creation of the national park precluded hunting and the population grew, leading to damage in the uplands and the fatal goring of a hiker.
The park service estimates that 50 percent of the goats will be translocated and another 40 percent lethally removed by federal, state and “skilled public volunteers” guided by spotter planes, carried by helicopters and using nontoxic ammo.
Chopper flights will occur in July’s second half and at the end of summer. Salt licks will be used to draw goats to areas away from public view or closed to hikers for management activities.
While the goal is to remove all the goats, officials acknowledge they may not be able to get them all.