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PostFri Sep 07, 2018 1:45 pm 
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Friday September 07, 2018 12:18 PDT

Olympic National Park New Release

Agencies Plan to Start Translocating Mountain Goats From the Olympics


Starting September 10, a coalition of state and federal agencies, with support from local tribes, will begin translocating mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains to meet wildlife management goals in both areas.

This effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades.

Area tribes lending support to the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes.

In May, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlines the effort to remove the estimated 725 mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.

This month’s two-week effort to move mountain goats to native habitat in the northern Cascades is the first translocation operation since the release of the final Mountain Goat Management Plan. Two additional two-week periods are planned for next year. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

“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.

While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent from many areas of its historic range.

Aerial capture operations will be conducted through a contract with a private company that specializes in the capture and transport of wild animals. The helicopter crew will use tranquilizer darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transport them in specially made slings to the staging area on Hurricane Hill Road beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park. The staging area will be closed to public access.

The animals will be examined by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transport them overnight to staging areas in the north Cascades for release the following day.

During this first round, WDFW will only translocate goats from the park to non-wilderness release sites in the Cascades. There will be no closures for release operations in the national forests in 2018. To maximize success, goats will be brought directly to alpine habitats that have been selected for appropriate characteristics. To access these areas, goats will be airlifted in their crates by helicopter.

WDFW plans to release the mountain goats at five selected sites in the Cascades this month. Two release areas are near mountain peaks south of the town of Darrington, on the Darrington District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS). The others are near Mt. Index, on the Skykomish Ranger District of the MBS, Tower Peak in the Methow area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and the headwaters of the Cedar River Drainage, which is land owned by Seattle Public Utilities.

“The translocation effort will relieve issues with non-native mountain goats in the Olympics while bolstering depleted herds in the northern Cascades,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Mountain goats cause significant impacts to the park ecosystem as well as public safety concerns.”

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

“In addition, the north Cascades has an abundance of natural salt licks, while the Olympic Peninsula has virtually none,” Harris said. “Natural salt licks greatly reduce mountain goats’ attraction to people.”

For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, see WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/mountain_goats.html.

Along with the staging area closure on Hurricane Hill Road, several trails in Olympic National Park will be closed for visitor and employee safety during helicopter operations. For more information and updates, visit www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.

-NPS-
-WDFW-
-USFS-

=========================================================

Friday September 07, 2018 12:14 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Agencies plan to start translocating mountain goats from the Olympics


Starting September 10, a coalition of state and federal agencies, with support from local tribes, will begin translocating mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains to meet wildlife management goals in both areas.

This effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades.

Area tribes lending support to the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes.

In May, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlines the effort to remove the estimated 725 mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.

This month’s two-week effort to move mountain goats to native habitat in the northern Cascades is the first translocation operation since the release of the final Mountain Goat Management Plan. Two additional two-week periods are planned for next year. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

“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.

While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent from many areas of its historic range.

Aerial capture operations will be conducted through a contract with a private company that specializes in the capture and transport of wild animals. The helicopter crew will use tranquilizer darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transport them in specially made slings to the staging area on Hurricane Hill Road beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park. The staging area will be closed to public access.

The animals will be examined by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transport them overnight to staging areas in the north Cascades for release the following day.

During this first round, WDFW will only translocate goats from the park to non-wilderness release sites in the Cascades. There will be no closures for release operations in the national forests in 2018. To maximize success, goats will be brought directly to alpine habitats that have been selected for appropriate characteristics. To access these areas, goats will be airlifted in their crates by helicopter.

WDFW plans to release the mountain goats at five selected sites in the Cascades this month. Two release areas are near mountain peaks south of the town of Darrington, on the Darrington District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS). The others are near Mt. Index, on the Skykomish Ranger District of the MBS, Tower Peak in the Methow area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and the headwaters of the Cedar River Drainage, which is land owned by Seattle Public Utilities.

“The translocation effort will relieve issues with non-native mountain goats in the Olympics while bolstering depleted herds in the northern Cascades,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Mountain goats cause significant impacts to the park ecosystem as well as public safety concerns.”

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

“In addition, the north Cascades has an abundance of natural salt licks, while the Olympic Peninsula has virtually none,” Harris said. “Natural salt licks greatly reduce mountain goats’ attraction to people.”

For more information about mountain goats in Washington state, see WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/mountain_goats.html.

Along with the staging area closure on Hurricane Hill Road, several trails in Olympic National Park will be closed for visitor and employee safety during helicopter operations. For more information and updates, visit www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.

Persons with disabilities who need to receive this information in an alternative format or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact Dolores Noyes by phone (360-902-2349), TTY (360-902-2207), or email (dolores.noyes@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/reasonable_request.html.

-WDFW-
-NPS-
-USFS-

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PostSun Sep 30, 2018 12:38 am 
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Wednesday September 26, 2018 15:03 PDT

For Immediate Release

Mountain Goat Capture and Translocation Activities Complete for 2018

Monday, September 24 marked the final day for a two-week long capture and translocation process which moved 98 mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains. Two additional two-week periods are planned for 2019. Capture and translocation may continue into 2020 depending on the results of the efforts in 2019.

This effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a coalition between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades. While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent or rare from many areas of its historic range.

Overall, 115 mountain goats were removed from the population in the park. Of these, 98 were translocated to the northern Cascade Mountains including 11 kids which were released with their nannies. Six mountain goat kids that could not be paired up with their mothers were transferred to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.  There were six adult mortalities related to capture, two adult mortalities which occurred during transport the first day, and three animals which were euthanized because they were unfit for translocation.

Capture Total: 115
# Translocated : males 30 females 68

NW Trek 6
Capture Mortalities 6
Transport Mortalities 2
Euthanized 3

“The success of this year’s translocation effort is thanks to the cooperation and expertise of more than 175 people, including 77 volunteers from WDFW,” said Olympic National Park Wildlife Branch Chief Dr. Patti Happe. “The collaboration with our partner agencies and the support from everyone involved was phenomenal.”

Aerial capture operations were conducted through a contract with a private company, Leading Edge Aviation, which specializes in the capture of wild animals. The helicopter crew used tranquilizer darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transported them in specially made slings to the staging area on Hurricane Hill Road. Due to weather, the helicopter crew was only able to operate for 10 out of the 14 days, and several of those days ended early.

The animals were examined by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transported them overnight to staging areas in the north Cascades for release the following day.

WDFW released mountain goats at five selected sites in the Cascades with the help of tribal and University biologists, and of Hi-Line Aviation of Darrington, Washington. Two of the release areas were near mountain peaks south of the town of Darrington, on the Darrington District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The others sites were located northwest of Kachess Lake (just south of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness) in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Tower Peak in the Methow area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and the headwaters of the Cedar River Drainage, which is land owned by Seattle Public Utilities.

In May, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlines the effort to remove the estimated 725 mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014. Area tribes lending support to the translocation effort in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes.

For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, see WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/mountain_goats.html.

Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park, 360-565-3004
Tracy O’Toole, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 425-783-6015
Deborah Kelly, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 509-664-9247
Susan Garner, Olympic National Forest, 360-956-2390
Rachel Blomker, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-701-3101

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PostWed Apr 08, 2020 3:36 pm 
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NPS is now  recruiting skilled volunteers to assist with lethal removal of goats from the park.


https://www.nps.gov/olym/getinvolved/mountain-goat-management-how-to-volunteer.htm
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PostMon Aug 17, 2020 1:59 pm 
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Monday August 17, 2020 13:01 PDT

Joint NPS-WDFW-USFS- news release

Capture and Translocation Project Moved 325 Mountain Goats to Northern Cascade Mountains


Capture and translocation operations are now complete with an additional 50 mountain goats moved in this final round from Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the northern Cascade Mountains. Since September 2018, a total of 325 mountain goats have been translocated. 

This effort is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades while also removing non-native goats from the Olympic Mountains.  Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

“I am extremely proud of the team and their hard work, dedication, and professionalism,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “Their commitment will have lasting impacts on ecosystem restoration in Olympic National Park and the native goat population in the Cascades.”

“Completing a project of this magnitude would have been impossible without our partner agencies and the expertise and cooperation of hundreds of people,” said Olympic National Park Wildlife Branch Chief Dr. Patti Happe.  “The interagency collaboration and the support from everyone involved over the last three years is extraordinary.”

"The past three years of this project have been a culmination of federal, state, tribal co-managers, and volunteers working together to move 325 mountain goats to the North Cascades, and that is quite an achievement,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “To coordinate and work on a project this unique is very special, and we are honored to have been a partner in it.”

In addition to the 325 mountain goats released in the North Cascades national forests, a total of 16 mountain goat kids have been given permanent homes in zoos: six in 2018 and ten in 2019. In total, there were 22 mortalities related to capture, six animals were euthanized because they were unfit for translocation, and four animals died in transit. Eight animals that could not be captured safely were lethally removed. Overall, 381 mountain goats were removed from Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest in four, two-week long operational periods from September 2018 to August 2020.

Overall Mountain Goat Capture and Translocation Results

September 2018 - August 2020

Total Removed 381
Translocated to Cascades  325
Transferred to Zoo 16
Capture Mortalities 22
Transport Mortalities 4
Euthanized 6
Lethally Removed 8

A total of 32 mountain goats were removed from Olympic National Forest. Sixteen mountain goats were removed from the Mount Ellinor and Mount Washington area, seven from The Brothers Wilderness, seven from the Buckhorn Wilderness, and two from the Mount Skokomish Wilderness.

Forest Supervisor Kelly Lawrence says: “The Forest Service is proud to be a part of such a successful partnership operation to relocate the Mountain Goats to their native habitat.  By working together we will be able to restore the native plant communities and make our public lands safer for all visitors.”

In May 2018, the NPS released the Final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlines the effort to remove the 725 mountain goats estimated on the Olympic Peninsula at that time. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.  As predicted in the plan, the mountain goats were harder to catch as the operations progressed. By the final round, capture mortality increased from an average 5.2% after the first round to 9.1% and flight hours per live capture increased from 0.59 hours after the first round to 1.31 hours per goat.

The capture and translocation project have been successful in meeting the objectives of the EIS. The total number of flight hours for capture (270 hours) was less than the estimated maximum hours, capture success was better than predicted, and WDFW released the number of mountain goats estimated.

Leading Edge Aviation, a private company which specializes in the capture of wild animals, conducted all of the aerial capture operations through a contract. The helicopter crew used immobilizing darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transported them in specially made slings to the staging areas located at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. In 2019, an additional staging area was located in the Hamma Hamma area in Olympic National Forest. The animals were examined and treated by veterinarians before WDFW volunteers and staff transported them to pre-selected staging areas in the North Cascades. The mountain goats were transported in refrigerated trucks to keep them cool.

Once at the staging areas in the North Cascades national forests, WDFW worked with HiLine Aviation to airlift the crated goats to release areas where Forest Service wildlife biologists assisted with the release. Weather did complicate airlifting goats to preferred locations on a few days, but crews were able to airlift goats to alternative locations or have ground releases on those days.

During this final round, WDFW released the mountain goats at 12 sites in the North Cascades national forests.  Nine sites were in the Darrington, Preacher Mountain, Mt. Loop Highway, and Snoqualmie Pass areas of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Three release sites were in the Chikamin Ridge, Box Canyon, and Tower Mountain areas of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. Release areas were chosen based on their high-quality mountain goat habitat, proximity to the staging areas, and limited disturbance to recreationists.

“The translocation has augmented populations of mountain goats on the national forest where native habitats were not being fully utilized,” said Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Wildlife Program Manager Monte Kuk. “It’s been great to see that all of the coordination, throughout both the planning and implementation effort, has benefited local wildlife populations and helped to solve other management issues at the same time. In all my years in wildlife management I’ve never worked on a project that required this level of coordination from so many individuals, agencies and organizations.” 

“The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is appreciative to have been able to cooperate with so many agencies, tribes and others to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Mountains to the North Cascades,” said Jesse Plumage, Forest Service Biologist on the MBS. “This will give mountain goats a good start on their way to recovering to historical population levels in the North Cascades.”

Area tribes that have supported the translocation plan in the Cascades, donated radio collars, or assisted with the releases include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes. Volunteers from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Makah Tribe, Point No Point Treaty Council, Quileute Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, Skokomish Indian Tribe, and Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe have assisted with past operations at the staging areas in the Olympics.

To watch videos from the project and find more information, visit nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.

For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, see WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/oreamnos-americanus

- NPS - USFS - WDFW -

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PostFri Sep 04, 2020 9:43 pm 
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Cull operations for mountain goats set to begin

https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/sports/outdoors-cull-operations-for-mountain-goats-set-to-begin/

Peninsula Daily News
By Michael Carman
Friday, September 4, 2020 6:05am

LETHAL REMOVAL OF the remaining mountain goat population in Olympic National Park will begin next week, with three cull operations planned Wednesday through Oct. 17.

Less than half of the 2018 estimate of 725 mountain goats remain in Olympic National Park after three rounds of translocation efforts conducted from 2018-20.

Sixteen Clallam County residents were selected to participate in the operations.

Olympic National Park Wildlife Branch Chief Patti Happe was inundated with applications, the result of stories announcing the search for qualified groups that appeared in the Peninsula Daily News and state and national media outlets back in April and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife passing along the notice to its list of game permit holders.

Happe said she received so many qualified queries, she was forced to use a draft lottery to trim the roster down to 40 teams of three to six individuals.

“The call for volunteers came during the shutdown when I was working at home with my laptop and was not ideal,” Happe said. “So many applications came in that, for a couple of days, the emails were coming faster than I could respond.

“I had over 1,200 groups apply, and I was hoping to get about 30 groups.”

Happe said she and some helpers read all of the applications.

“To honor all the time and energy,” Happe said. “The application itself was not easy, it was an 18-page application. We scored them like a job application, putting them in bins of qualified and highly qualified and even we had 100 highly qualified groups. So we had to go to a lottery because, in all of those groups, everybody was capable.”

A random number generator helped select the final 40 groups.

“I do feel confident in who has been selected,” Happe said. “Those selected have experience hunting in the backcountry, several groups have members with highly skilled, technical climbing experience. There are EMTs and paramedics, and several teams have biologists to help collect biological data.”

And many of them have experience in the Olympic Mountain backcountry.

“Experience in ONP was a big factor,” Happe said. “Some folks have done the Bailey Range traverse, so they know what they are getting into when they get into this terrain.”

Range qualification will begin next week before the cull groups head out into the field.

“Everybody who wants to be a shooter has to qualify on the range with the rifle and ammunition they will use during the cull operation,” Happe said.

Happe said media access would be limited due to concerns over participants’ safety.

“It’s going to be a private operation,” Happe said.

“Of the 116 people participating, 80 are from Washington and 16 from Clallam County.”

Happe said no Jefferson County residents were picked, but residents of Grays Harbor and Mason counties were selected along with people from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon.

“A lot of the teams are put together with local folks who have associates who are highly skilled and trained from out of area,” Happe said.

The cull operations will focus on areas where mountain goat population density remains highest — on or near high-elevation Mount Olympus, Mount Anderson and Chimney Peak.

Happe said no areas of Olympic National Park will be closed for the cull operations, and backcountry hikers will be notified.

“Nothing will be closed, but not everybody is up on the news, especially if you are not from here, so everybody who will receive a backcountry permit will be notified.”

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.
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PostTue Nov 10, 2020 4:45 pm 
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Monday November 9, 2020 15:59 PST

Olympic NP news release

Mountain Goat Removal Complete for 2020


PORT ANGELES, WA:  The ground-based lethal removal program using qualified volunteers ended in October with a total of 31 mountain goats culled from the population in the park.  Ninety-nine highly skilled volunteers, organized in 20 groups of three to six volunteers per group, volunteered over 9000 hours while participating in the program. Ten mountain goats were removed in the first round, 18 were removed in the second round, and 3 were removed in the final round.  A total of 412 mountain goats have now been removed from the Olympic Peninsula.  Of these, 325 were successfully released into the Cascades.

The use of highly skilled, qualified volunteers for ground-based lethal removal was requested by the public in the review process of the Final Mountain Goat Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Over 1200 groups of volunteers applied to participate. All applications were evaluated and ranked, and over 100 very highly qualified teams applied. A random draw of 40 group applications was taken from a pool of the most highly qualified teams.  Those groups were then evaluated by a team of National Park Service and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff. From that pool, 21 groups consisting of 118 volunteers were selected on June 1.  By the time the program was implemented some volunteers were no longer able to participate. The remaining 20 groups met requirements for physical fitness and passed background checks and a mandatory firearm proficiency evaluation.

The three rounds occurred September 9-19, September 22-October 2, and October 5-16. In addition to the normally challenging conditions associated with accessing mountain goats in the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness of Olympic National Park, the teams also faced dense smoke from fires, heavy rain, strong winds, snow, sleet, lightning, wasps, and persistent low clouds and fog. Nineteen mountain goats were removed from the Chimney Peak/Mt. Anderson area, six were removed from the southeastern region of the park, four were removed from Mount Olympus, and two were removed from the Bailey Range.

Lethal removal will now switch to aerial operations in 2021. Two, 2-week aerial operations are planned for late July and early September 2021 as described in the Final Mountain Goat Management Plan/EIS released in May 2018. Both the plan and the associated EIS were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014. The plan outlines the effort to remove the 725 mountain goats estimated on the Olympic Peninsula in 2018 through capture and translocation and then lethal removal. The capture and translocation project was successful in meeting the objectives of the EIS. The total number of flight hours for capture (270 hours) was less than the estimated maximum hours, capture success was better than predicted, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife released the number of mountain goats estimated.

Under the approved plan, the first priority was to capture and translocate mountain goats to the Cascade Range where the populations are both native and depleted. The plan calls for ceasing captures once capture operations were no longer safe or efficient, due to the remaining goats residing in terrain that is unsafe for capture operations. As predicted in the plan, the mountain goats were harder to catch safely as the operations progressed. By the fourth and final round of capture and translocation in August 2020, capture mortality increased from an average 5.2% after the first round to 9.1% and flight hours per live capture increased from 0.59 hours after the first round to 1.31 hours per goat. The remaining goats cannot be safely or efficiently captured.

-NPS-

38007

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PostTue Nov 17, 2020 12:40 pm 
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Goats culled from ONP
By Michael Carman
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 1:30am

https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/goats-culled-from-park/

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Demanding terrain, hazardous air conditions from wildfire smoke and torrential rain, snow and wind impacted Olympic National Park’s ground-based mountain goat lethal-removal program.

A total of 31 mountain goats were killed by 99 well-qualified volunteers organized in groups of three to six people during three rounds of operations conducted Sept. 9-19, Sept. 22-Oct. 2 and Oct. 5-16, according to the park.

Ten mountain goats were removed in the first round, 18 were culled in the second round and three were removed in the final round.

Nineteen mountain goats were culled from the Chimney Peak/Mount Anderson area, six were killed in the southeastern region of the park, four were culled from Mount Olympus and two from the Bailey Range.

A total of 412 mountain goats have been removed from the Olympic National Park of the 725 estimated on the Olympic Peninsula. Of those, 325 were successfully released into the Cascades during previous translocation efforts in 2018-20.

The plan called for ceasing captures once capture operations were no longer safe or efficient due to the remaining goats residing in terrain that is unsafe for capture operations, according to the park.

Olympic National Park estimated the 99 volunteers, including two who drove cross-country from their homes in Maryland and Virginia, put in 9,000 hours of volunteer service during the operations.

“These folks worked really hard. They put in so much work,” said Patti Happe, Olympic National Park wildlife branch chief.

“From the start, the application wasn’t easy,” she continued. “They maintained communication with us while putting this together during the summer and endured challenging and rigorous conditions out in the field.

“I’m grateful for the level of professionalism that everybody involved exhibited,” she added.

The use of highly skilled, qualified volunteers for ground-based lethal removal was requested by the public in the review process of the Final Mountain Goat Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the park said.

All applications were evaluated and ranked, and more than 100 very highly qualified teams applied, the park said.

A random draw of 40 group applications was taken from that pool. Those teams then were evaluated by staff from the National Park Service and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Twenty-one groups consisting of 118 volunteers were selected on June 1.

By the time the program was implemented, some volunteers were no longer able to participate.

The remaining 20 groups met requirements for physical fitness and passed background checks and a mandatory firearm proficiency evaluation.

COVID-19 tests weren’t required of participants, but volunteers were asked to limit their contact with others for two weeks before they arrived and were not permitted to fly to the area to participate, the park said.

Training was conducted in small groups in a warehouse instead of a classroom, and physical distancing was enforced.

Happe provided more details on two major priorities during the operations.

“The remaining goats are in such inaccessible terrain so we really emphasized during the training that they be safe, that we didn’t want people to get hurt or lost,” Happe said.

“We were really pleased there because there were no injuries, and no groups got lost.

“The second priority was to get close enough to the goats to safely and humanely remove the goats.”

Happe said some groups had success in culling mountain goats across all three rounds, particularly in the Chimney Peak area. Others put in the time, but never fired a round.

“There were other groups that saw goats but just couldn’t get close enough,” Happe said.

“One group of volunteers watched the same goats for three days until the goats moved on. With the weather, we had other groups that were never able to find goats.”

Wildfire smoke impacted line of sight during the initial operation, Happe said.

“In most areas, they were at elevations where they were above it, and it wasn’t as hazardous, but it really impeded their visibility,” she said.

“Those working on the Hood Canal never saw it clear up. Then the air cleared out and we had to deal with torrential rainfall.”

Happe and Park Service staff were able to communicate in the field with volunteers.

“The groups were outfitted with a park radio for emergencies, but most of the communication was with InReach devices, texting me when they were coming out and some people could get cell service,” Happe said.

InReach devices serve as a two-way satellite messenger/GPS tracker/navigation tool and offer SOS services.

“Sometimes [messages arrive] really quickly and sometimes it takes a day,” Happe said. “Most of them had their own equipment that they used.

“They really came in handy, especially when the bad weather came in and we were able to provide warnings, especially to high-spike camps above 5,000 feet, to make moves toward lower elevations.”

Park Service staff also was stationed in the field to assist volunteers and to explain operations to other hikers.

Volunteers had to prove their proficiency in firing rifles of a minimum .24 caliber using bottle-necked cartridges containing non-lead ammunition.

During qualification testing, sharpshooters were required to group three of five shots in an 8-inch circle at a distance of 200 yards.

“A lot of the shots were taken from much further than that,” Happe said. “There were no wounding losses that I know of. When they shot them, they took them down cleanly.”

Twenty of the 31 carcasses were recovered.

“We tested their DNA to further reconstruct the population of mountain goats and gather data on sex and age structure,” Happe said. “There were only two unknowns that were shot and unrecoverable. One was thought to be a male yearling, but we don’t have certainty.”

Happe monitored groups from Port Angeles.

“My role was to stay nervous throughout the duration,” she joked.

She didn’t get much rest when teams were in the field.

“It was fitful,” Happe said. “There were a couple of groups that I didn’t hear from for a day or two.

“I’m relieved that it is over,” she said. “ was pretty nervous about it, but it has been a really rewarding experience, a different experience.

“One of the selection criteria was volunteer experience working with government or a nonprofit dealing with controversial issues and respecting diversity of opinion. And that’s what we had. There were no conflicts with the groups and interactions with the public went well.

“Some of the comments from volunteers were, ‘Thank you for the experience of a lifetime, but I’m never doing it again.’ ”

Lethal removal will switch to aerial operations in 2021.

“What’s next is to finalize plans for next summer through the contracting and selection of a federally approved Aerial Capture Eradication and Tagging of Animals Unit,” Happe said.

“These are sharpshooters, people who are accurate and can safely remove animals as efficiently and humanely as possible.”

Two two-week aerial operations are planned for late July and early September as described in the Final Mountain Goat Management Plan/EIS released in May 2018.

Both the plan and the associated EIS were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.

________

Sports reporter Michael Carman can be reached at 360-406-0674 or mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.
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