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Volunteers killed dozens of mountain goats at Grand Teton. This year they'll kill more

Maddie Capron, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in News & Features

More than 100 volunteers killed dozens of mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park last fall. This year they’ll kill even more, park officials said.

Grand Teton National Park officials started a multiyear program to kill non-native mountain goats that invaded the area from Idaho. They think removing the goats is absolutely necessary to protect the park and the Teton Range’s herd of about 125 native bighorn sheep.

“Mountain goats can carry bacterial diseases that are lethal to bighorn sheep,” park rangers said. “The Teton Range bighorn sheep population has been relatively isolated and is therefore likely ‘naïve’ to these diseases.”

At the start of the program, there were about 100 mountain goats in the park. Last year, volunteers killed 43 of them.

Park rangers think about 50 goats are still wandering the park. Volunteers will try to kill them from Sept. 22 to Oct. 25 this year.

The volunteers will be the same people who already went through the necessary training to kill the mountain goats in 2020, park officials said. They’re not accepting applications for new volunteers.

The participants will still need to go through a background check and pass a firearm proficiency test. They also must be at least 18 years old.

 

“In the interest of safety and efficiency, the park is only drawing on qualified volunteers who were trained and participated in the program last year,” park officials said in a news release. “There are significantly fewer mountain goats in the park and removal will be exceedingly more difficult.”

After the mountain goats are killed, the meat will be donated to a handful of places, including food banks and Indian Tribes. Volunteers don’t get to keep the goats.

Grand Teton National Park isn’t the only one using skilled volunteers to kill invasive animals. The Grand Canyon also sought volunteers to kill hundreds of bison over five years.

More than 45,000 people applied to kill the bison. People were then selected in a lottery draw. Volunteers who met the qualification criteria were then chosen for one of four five-days periods during which they will remove bison.

“This action is necessary due to the rapid growth of the bison population and the transition from the herd using state and U.S. Forest Service lands into almost exclusively residing within Grand Canyon,” National Park Service officials said on its website.

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