Work Progresses on Olympic Mountain Goat Plan
[Updated Oct. 2015]
Work is progressing on Olympic National Park’s Mountain Goat Management Plan. More than 100 public responses have been evaluated. Management alternatives have been revised, and a Draft Environmental Impact Statement with a preferred will be published early in 2016.
OPA considers non-native mountain goats one of the most acute management problems facing the park. A growing goat population (five percent per year) coupled with increasing impacts on Olympic’s alpine plant communities and the implicit danger goats pose to hikers have prompted park managers to take action on this long-standing problem. OPA has been monitoring the planning effort and continues to work with the park service, other conservation organizations, and interested members of the public to ensure an effective plan is put in place to remove non-native goats from the park.
Mountain goats are not native to the Olympics; they were introduced by hunting interests in the 1920s before the park was created. With the absence of natural predators and in the mild coastal climate of the Olympics, their numbers soared. By the 1980s the population reached more than 1,100 animals. Destructive impacts by goats on sensitive alpine and subalpine environments from feeding, trampling and wallowing became both visible and profound. A live-capture and translocation program, begun in the 1980s, reduced the population significantly. A 1990s planning effort, which proposed to remove remaining goats by aerial shooting, was placed on hold.
Findings from the park’s earlier draft EIS and subsequent studies and reviews have confirmed that:
- Goats are not native to the Olympics.
- Even small numbers of goats do measurable damage to alpine plants and soils.
- Goat impacts on Olympic marmots and other endemic and sensitive alpine animals remain unknown.
- Chemical contraception is not a viable means of eliminating goats.
- Habituated non-native goats can pose a danger to park visitors.
The Current Plan
The current planning effort will consider a range of alternatives including: no-action, live-capture and translocation, lethal removal, increased nuisance control, and combinations of the above. OPA and a number of conservation organizations supported the park’s proposed action of lethal removal of remaining goats during the earlier planning process. We remain committed to finding a workable solution through the current plan that will result in removal all non-native goats from the park.
What You Can Do
Help preserve the Olympics’ stunning alpine habitats for the native plants and animals that have made it their home for millennia. Please write to Olympic National Park and express your concerns to park planners. Urge them to develop a workable scientific approach that will remove non-native goats from the national park.
Olympic National Park, 600 E Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362-6757
To view OPA’s scoping letter to Olympic National Park on the Mountain Goat Management Plan/EIS, click here. To review OPA’s 1995 detailed analysis of non-native mountain goats in the Olympics, click here.
To view the park’s Mountain Goat Management Plan planning page, click here. And watch for future alerts and postings from OPA.