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.
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.
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.