[6/28/19] Goat Translocation

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On July 8th a coalition of state and federal agencies will begin translocating mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains to meet wildlife management goals in all three areas.

This effort is a partnership between the National Park Service, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the Forest Service to re-establish depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades while also removing non-native goats from the Olympic Mountains. 

In 2018, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlined the effort to remove mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. The population of mountain goats at that time was estimated at 725. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process in 2014.

The first translocation capture period in September 2018 removed 115 mountain goats from the population in the park.

“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.

Aerial capture operations will be conducted by a private company that specializes in the capture and transport of wild animals. The helicopter crew will use immobilizing darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transport them in specially made slings to the staging areas.

The animals will be cared for by veterinarians before wildlife managers transport them to staging areas in the north Cascades for release.

WDFW plans to release the mountain goats at six sites in the Cascades in mid July. These release sites include the Chikamin area on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

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 Dr. Rich Harris, a WDFW wildlife manager who specializes in mountain goats.

“In addition, the north Cascades has natural salt licks, while the Olympic Peninsula has virtually none,” Harris said. “We’d expect salt hunger to be lower in goats that have natural sources available to them.”

For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, click on the link below.