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Grand Teton mountain goats to be removed to save bighorn sheep

Wyoming mountain goat

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Grand Teton National Park mountain goats’ time is ticking. To help with habitat competition and keep the spread of disease away from “one of the most unique bighorn sheep herds in the West,” park biologists have decided to kill or remove over 100 of the non-native species over the next five years, the Casper Star Tribune reports.

Park biologist Sarah Dewey said that “the decision to eliminate a charismatic creature wasn’t easy, but it was pretty clear.”

The non-native mountain goats infiltrated the park (and Wyoming) from neighboring Idaho, where they’d been introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. In contrast, the “fragile and shrinking” bighorn sheep herd that roams the park has been there “genetically unchanged” for “tens of thousands of years,” according to the Casper Star Tribune.

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“The sheep are struggling, and this is kind of one more straw, and is it the straw that will break the camel’s back and send the herd into an irreversible decline? The trouble is, if that happens, we don’t get the sheep back,” said Dewey.

The mountain goats have also recently tested positive for pneumonia pathogens. To keep the bighorn sheep from completely dying off, something had to be done—even if it was a difficult decision to make.

“And so we feel like we need to try this, as well as a lot of other things, to shore up the fate of the sheep herd,” said Dewey. “And so yes, it is hard, it’s one of the more challenging kinds of resource problems that I’ve ever encountered.”

The park plans to use sharp shooters and relocation methods to remove the mountain goats from the area.

Stay tuned to goHUNT for further updates.

13 Comments

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Shane A. - posted 7 months ago on 03-07-2019 06:49:23 am
goHUNT INSIDER

North Dakota did an elk herd reduction a few years back on the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. They opted to use volunteers who had to pass a shooting proficiency test and work in teams led by a Park Ranger.

The meat was then split up between the Sportsman Against Hunger, North Dakota tribes and the volunteers.

Hopefully, they decide to something similar in this case.

Casey J. - posted 7 months ago on 03-06-2019 10:53:31 am

5 years to kill 100 Mt. Goats because they have pneumonia pathogens? Like they aren’t going to spread that to the sheep in 5 years? I get the reason but the plan is not helping anyone.

Robert T. - posted 7 months ago on 03-06-2019 07:29:31 am
Blackfoot, ID
goHUNT INSIDER

Plus doesn't Grand Teton already have language in its charter about hunting for population control? Is not removal of a non-native population control? Government bureaucrats never look at the bottom line money for tags vs. a bill for a chopper and sharp shooter. And we wonder why our country is in major debt.

Chaunce C. - posted 7 months ago on 03-06-2019 06:17:29 am
goHUNT INSIDER

Yet another vote for having a hunter pay for a goat tag and go in and take a goat ethically and utilize the meat and have an opportunity for a trophy of a lifetime.

Jay M. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 06:29:34 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

How about limiting the backcountry use in the winter? There has been a massive increase in backcountry skiers putting pressure on the sheep population in their most fragile time of year. Killing one species to save another, pretty ironic considering the stance of most of the winter backcountry tree huggers.

Kadon F. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 05:24:06 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Why don’t they offer controlled hunts for that area rather then hiring some guy to shoot them out of a helicopter

matthew a. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 03:54:34 pm
Tampa, FL
goHUNT INSIDER

I want to see the math that clearly defines that the mnt goat is the sole reason of potential decline. How does everything with the Biome contribute ?
These days I trust no one, there's always a hidden agenda.

DAVID S. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 02:10:25 pm
Streetsboro, OH

National Park = anti hunters... but they should issue some tags and let hunters do it for free

Eric Hardester_10154334241172157
Eric H. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 12:46:51 pm
Gilbert, AZ
goHUNT INSIDER

vol-un-teers! vol-un-teers! vol-un-teers!

Erik B. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 10:57:22 am
goHUNT INSIDER

I'd pay money in order to relocate the Goats.

Michael E. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 09:05:47 am
goHUNT INSIDER

This is a fund raising no-brainer.

Bill_Day
Bill D. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 08:56:42 am
OK and CO
goHUNT INSIDER

Now that S.47 is las and authorizes/encourages citizen “volunteer” hunters, I hope NPS will reconsider the sharpshooters plan.

Robert T. - posted 7 months ago on 03-05-2019 08:40:44 am
Blackfoot, ID
goHUNT INSIDER

Will this be a use of qualified volunteers? It should be.