Tag Archives: olympic national park

Olympic-Cascades Mountain Goat Project Wraps Up With 98 Translocated

Nearly 100 mountain goats from the Olympic Mountains are now kicking up their heels across Puget Sound in Washington’s Central and North Cascades after a two-week capture-and-transfer project wrapped up earlier this week.

A TRIO OF MOUNTAIN GOATS CLING TO ROCKS ON THE RIDGE ABOVE THE ROAD TO HURRICANE RIDGE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

State and federal wildlife officials plan to come back the next two summers to remove as many billies, nannies and kids from the rugged peaks of the peninsula, where the species was introduced in the 1920s by hunters, as they can to help bolster herds in their native habitat along the spine of the Evergreen State and reduce environmental damage from the species in the Olympics.

By the numbers from a joint Olympic National Park-Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest-WDFW press release, here’s what the first year’s effort looks like:

Olympic Range mountain goat population pre-project: ~725

Original introduction: 12 animals (released 1925 to 1929 near Lake Crescent)

Mountain goats captured: 115

Translocated to Cascades: 98

Nannies translocated: 68

Billies translocated: 30

Nannyless kids transferred to Northwest Trek: 6

Capture mortalities: 6

Euthanized: 3 (“unfit for translocation,” per NPS)

Transport mortalities: 2

People involved: 175 (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, area tribes, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Leading Edge Aviation, etc.)

Volunteers: 77 (from WDFW)

Length of operation: 14 days

Flyable days: 10* (work ended early on several days, per NPS)

Cascade release sites: 5 (2 near Darrington, 1 north of Rainy and Washington Passes in the North Cascades, 1 northwest of Kachess Lake by Snoqualmie Pass, and 1 in the headwaters of the Cedar River southwest of Snoqualmie Pass)

Estimated results of three-year project: 90 percent removal of population (“The remaining 10 percent would be addressed through ongoing maintenance activities which would involve opportunistic ground- and helicopter-based lethal removal of mountain goats, with a focus on areas near high visitor use and areas where goats are causing resource damage,” says the park service.)

Mountain Goats On The Move: Olympics-to-North Cascades Effort Starts Next Week

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Starting September 10, a coalition of state and federal agencies, with support from local tribes, will begin translocating mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains to meet wildlife management goals in both areas.

A TRIO OF MOUNTAIN GOATS CLING TO ROCKS ON THE RIDGE ABOVE THE ROAD TO HURRICANE RIDGE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

This effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades.

Area tribes lending support to the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes.

In May, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlines the effort to remove the estimated 725 mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.

This month’s two-week effort to move mountain goats to native habitat in the northern Cascades is the first translocation operation since the release of the final Mountain Goat Management Plan. Two additional two-week periods are planned for next year. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

“Mountain goat relocation will allow these animals to reoccupy historical range areas in the Cascades and increase population viability,” said Jesse Plumage, USFS Wildlife Biologist.

While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent from many areas of its historic range.

Aerial capture operations will be conducted through a contract with a private company that specializes in the capture and transport of wild animals. The helicopter crew will use tranquilizer darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transport them in specially made slings to the staging area on Hurricane Hill Road beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park. The staging area will be closed to public access.

The animals will be examined by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transport them overnight to staging areas in the north Cascades for release the following day.

During this first round, WDFW will only translocate goats from the park to non-wilderness release sites in the Cascades. There will be no closures for release operations in the national forests in 2018. To maximize success, goats will be brought directly to alpine habitats that have been selected for appropriate characteristics. To access these areas, goats will be airlifted in their crates by helicopter.

WDFW plans to release the mountain goats at five selected sites in the Cascades this month. Two release areas are near mountain peaks south of the town of Darrington, on the Darrington District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS). The others are near Mt. Index, on the Skykomish Ranger District of the MBS, Tower Peak in the Methow area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and the headwaters of the Cedar River Drainage, which is land owned by Seattle Public Utilities.

“The translocation effort will relieve issues with non-native mountain goats in the Olympics while bolstering depleted herds in the northern Cascades,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Mountain goats cause significant impacts to the park ecosystem as well as public safety concerns.”

Mountain goats follow and approach hikers because they are attracted to the salt from their sweat, urine, and food. That behavior is less likely in the north Cascades where visitors are more widely distributed than those at Olympic National Park, said Rich Harris, a WDFW wildlife manager who specializes in mountain goats.

“In addition, the north Cascades has an abundance of natural salt licks, while the Olympic Peninsula has virtually none,” Harris said. “Natural salt licks greatly reduce mountain goats’ attraction to people.”

For more information about mountain goats in Washington state, see WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/mountain_goats.html.

Along with the staging area closure on Hurricane Hill Road, several trails in Olympic National Park will be closed for visitor and employee safety during helicopter operations. For more information and updates, visit www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.

Olympic Mountain Goat Removal Approved

Federal and state wildlife managers now have the green light to begin removing those white-coated denizens of the Olympic Mountains.

A BILLY GOAT RESTS ON KLAHHANE RIDGE INSIDE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK. (NPS)

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.

Olympic Mountain Goats To Be Moved To North Cascades, Under EIS Out For Final Review

Mountain goats are meant for the mountains, just not the Olympics, where the nonnative species will likely soon begin to be captured and relocated to the North Cascades, or shot on sight.

A TRIO OF MOUNTAIN GOATS CLING TO ROCKS ON THE RIDGE ABOVE THE ROAD TO HURRICANE RIDGE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

Federal and state wildlife managers today announced that they want to remove billies, nannies and kids to reduce damage in the heights of the peninsula’s Olympic National Park.

A final environmental impact statement released this week will undergo a final 30-day comment period before the decision is final.

If no last objections are raised, efforts will begin this summer to move as many of the Olympics’ 725 goats as possible to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, supplementing scattered herds there.

A LARGE HERD OF MOUNTAIN GOATS GATHERED ON THE FLANKS OF MT. BAKER, IN WASHINGTON’S NORTH CASCADES, IN 2016. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

Special permit hunting opportunities in the region have been declining over time.

“Federal and state agencies are poised to begin the effort that will help grow a depleted population of mountain goats in the Cascades; and eliminate their impact on the Olympic Peninsula,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a press release.

The alpine wanderers were apparently brought to the Olympics in the 1920s for hunting before the mountains became a national park. It was a time when critters were moved around to replenish animal herds diminished by overhunting and settlement, or to provide new opportunities.

But with the peninsula’s goat population forecast to hit 1,000 in several years unless nothing is done, and with the fatal goring of a hiker in 2010, the time to act to halt impacts to mountain vegetation appears to be now.

After two years of capture and translocation operations, lethal removals would begin, though animals in unapproachable areas could be killed after the first year, according to the EIS.

Federal, state and “skilled public volunteers” would be tasked with taking out the last goats with nontoxic ammo.

To view the plan, go to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/OLYMgoat.

Comment Sought On Olympic Mountain Goat Management Options

Federal and state managers are looking for public comment on what to do with the Olympic Peninsula’s mountain goats.

They’re trotting out four alternatives, one of which would remove 90 percent of the population that hangs out in the heights, mostly in Olympic National Park but also Olympic National Forest.

A TRIO OF MOUNTAIN GOATS CLING TO ROCKS ON THE RIDGE ABOVE THE ROAD TO HURRICANE RIDGE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

Another option would move half the herd of roughly 725 animals by 2018 to either side of Washington’s North Cascades, bolstering herds and hunting opportunities in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests.

A third — the preferred one at the moment — would combine both alternatives to remove nine out of every ten mountain goats from federal lands on the peninsula, mostly by shooting by the fifth year of the operation.

A fourth leaves management as the status quo.

Olympic National Park, the U.S. Forest Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife came up with the draft environmental impact statement on the alternatives.

Goats aren’t native to the Olympics but were brought in somewhere in the early 1900s, before the national park was created in 1938.

They’ve done well, but are rough on soil and native plants, and with apparently no natural salt licks in the mountains, now associate humans with the mineral. An aggressive billy killed a hiker in the park in 2010.

Hunting of course isn’t allowed in the national park, but WDFW makes a handful of permits available to hunt national forest lands above Hood Canal through a conflict reduction permit.

Ten tags are currently offered for areas around Mt. Baker,  Lake Chelan and the Boulder River Wilderness, several more for the Goat Rocks of the South Cascades.

In the plan, the feds and state say that goats also have to be removed from the surrounding national forest because they’re part of the overall population.

Comment is open through Sept. 26.

For more details, go here.

Elwha Fishing Closure Extended To June 2019

THE FOLLOWING IS A JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE AND LOWER ELWHA KLALLAM TRIBE

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Olympic National Park, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have agreed that it is necessary to extend the fishing closure in the Elwha River for another two years, from March 1, 2017 to June 1, 2019. The fishing closure applies to all recreational and commercial fishing in the Elwha River and its tributaries. A fishing moratorium in these waters has been in place since 2011 to protect depleted native salmonid populations, including four federally listed fish species which are needed to re-colonize habitats between and upstream of the two former dam sites. Mountain lakes in the Elwha basin within Olympic National Park and Lake Sutherland will remain open to sport fishing from the fourth Saturday in April to October 31.

A FLYRODDER TRIES HIS LUCK ON THE ELWHA, IN 2011, THE YEAR A FISHING MORATORIUM WENT INTO EFFECT ON THE NORTH OLYMPIC PENINSULA RIVER IN ANTICIPATION OF THE REMOVAL OF TWO OLD DAMS. THAT CLOSURE HAS SINCE BEEN EXTENDED THROUGH 2019. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

As part of the Elwha Ecosystem Restoration project, Elwha Dam removal was completed in April, 2012 and Glines Canyon Dam was removed in August, 2014. Additional rock demolition occurred in Glines Canyon in summer, 2016 to improve upstream anadromous fish passage. Fisheries biologists recently confirmed upstream passage of adult Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon, coho salmon, winter and summer steelhead and bull trout past the former Glines Canyon Dam site. Those species, as well as pink salmon, chum salmon, and Pacific lamprey have now been documented upstream of the former Elwha Dam site.

The restoration of salmonid spawning and rearing in habitats upstream of the former Glines Canyon Dam is paramount to successful restoration. These early re-colonizers play an important role in establishing spawning and juvenile rearing in habitats of the upper watershed. To date, low numbers of Chinook salmon, summer steelhead, and bull trout have been observed as high upstream as the Hayes River confluence.

The Elwha project partners are annually evaluating spawner abundance, extent of distribution, and juvenile production throughout the system using a variety of tools including sonar, redd surveys, radio telemetry, snorkel surveys, smolt trapping, and environmental DNA. Recreational and commercial fishing will resume when there is broad distribution of spawning adults in newly accessible habitats above the former dam sites, when spawning occurs at a rate that allows for population growth and diversity, and when there is adequate escapement and a harvestable surplus. The salmon and steelhead populations are expanding into newly opened habitats, but are not yet approaching the recovery objectives.

Monitoring ecosystem recovery in the Elwha is a cooperative effort among Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Olympic National Park, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For updated fishing regulations on waters within Olympic National Park, please visit https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/fishing.htm or contact Fisheries Biologists at 360-565-3081 or 360-565-3075.

For waters outside the park, please visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ or contact WDFW’s Fish Program at 360-902-2838