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ONP Goat Removal Project Update

April 6, 2020

July 2020 marked the final round of relocation of Olympic National Park’s mountain goats. After this, the park began lethal removal, utilizing highly vetted backcountry hunter volunteers.

By: Pete Muennich

This coming July marks the fourth and final round of live capture and relocation of Olympic National Park’s mountain goats. After this, the park will begin lethal removal starting in September conducted by highly vetted backcountry volunteers. Helicopter gunning is slated to begin in summer of 2021.

To date, the park has successfully captured 326 of their resident goats. 312 of those animals made it to staging area alive where they were handed off to Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife officials to be relocated into the North Cascades. 275 of those animals were released alive and 194 of them are known to be alive in their new home today. 17 kids were relocated to zoos and all alive today. Some of the goats relocated in 2018 are already successfully breeding in the North Cascades and producing offspring - a huge conservation success RMGA is proud to be part of.

This spring, the park will begin to accept applications for backcountry hunters who have extensive experience backpack hunting sheep and goats. Each chosen applicant will be required to provide a doctor’s note stating their ability to backpack up to 15-miles for seven continuous days. They will also need to pass a marksmanship test and need to be equipped with a mandatory gear list.

Teams of 3-6 people will be assigned to designated removal areas for a week of backcountry goat culling. Volunteers will be required to salvage as much of each animal as safely possible. Horns are of top priority to the park so that an age structure of the harvest animals can be collected. Hide and meat should be recovered whenever safely possible.

RMGA applauds ONP and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife for their continued efforts to successfully relocate these animals to native goat habitat. We are ultimately disappointed to see the mountain goat leave the Olympic Peninsula, a place they have called home for over 100 years. At this time, our wish is to see as many animals as possible relocated this July and as much of the lethally culled animals utilized. This includes meat, hides and horns.

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