Aerial crews lethally removed 113 mountain goats from the Olympic Mountains this summer during the fourth of five years of operations to eradicate as many of the nonnative animals from the peninsula as possible.
Olympic National Park reports that 65 were culled during a two-week period in late July and 48 in late August and early September, bringing to 525 the number of billies, nannies and kids that have been removed one way or another from the heights since the effort began in September 2018.
Of those, 325 were captured and released into Washington’s North and Central Cascades to bolster herds there, 152 have been lethally removed so far, 22 died during capture, 16 were transferred to zoos, six were euthanized for various reasons and four died in transport.
Capture operations ended after 2019’s season, with the remaining goats considered too difficult to catch.
So last year saw federal and state managers recruit and use 99 “highly skilled volunteers” who put in 9,000 hours of service in culling 31 goats from the park.
Volunteer shooters have been used to reduce elk herds in two Colorado and South Dakota national parks, and the idea was included in ONP’s final environmental impact statement for the mountain goat removal project.
According to WDFW, carcasses of some of this July’s goats were deboned and the meat was taken to a game processor in Port Angeles where it was ground and wrapped, yielding 200 pounds for local food banks.
This year’s efforts were done solely from the air and according to the park service, 2022 will be “the last year for the active management phase of the plan.”
Outside the national park, WDFW this year offered 25 goat hunting permits for its East Olympic Mountains “conflict reduction zone,” which includes Olympic National Forest and nearby lands from Port Angeles to Quilcene to Shelton to Amanda Park.
After the park was created in 1938, hunting was no longer allowed and the landscape effectively became a giant goat refuge, with the population growing to an estimated 725 when removal efforts began five summers ago.
ONP had long worried about the “exotic” goats’ impact on alpine vegetation as they search for salt and mineral licks. The animals are also attracted to places along trails where hikers pee for the salts that accumulate, as well as campsites where they dump dishwater. In 2010, a man was gored and killed by a billy on Klahane Ridge near Hurricane above Port Angeles, adding impetus to doing something about the population.