MOOSE, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK)-Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is voicing support for Grand Teton National Park’s new plan to manage non-native mountain goats. Gordon objected to the first plan, which allowed aerial gunning of goats to reduce their numbers.
Under the new plan, the park would allow qualified volunteers to harvest the animals.
The Park is now taking applications from qualified people to cull non-native mountain goats. The policy is aimed at conserving a native and vulnerable population of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Teton Range.
The Teton Range is home to a small herd of native bighorn sheep currently estimated at approximately 100 animals. As one of the smaller and most isolated herds in Wyoming, that has never been extirpated or augmented, it is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers, and visitors.
Mountain goats are not native to Grand Teton National Park. They were introduced into the Snake River Range in Idaho and, over the years, expanded into the Teton Range. They can carry bacterial disease that is lethal to bighorn sheep. Until now, the Teton Range bighorn have been relatively isolated.
There are an estimated 100 non-native mountain goats in the park.
“I am delighted that Grand Teton National Park officials have chosen to take a different, more sensible approach to addressing this important wildlife management issue,” Governor Gordon said. “From the very beginning we have expressed our desire to partner with the Park to find a solution that achieves management objectives for this population and respects Wyoming values.”
“The use of qualified volunteers underscores how public participation is a key tenant of how wildlife is managed in Wyoming,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik. “The opportunity for the public to aid in the reduction of mountain goats — a wildlife management action — is essential to our state and reflective of the high-value we place on the wildlife resource.”
The qualified volunteer program will take place September 14- November 13, 2020, weather permitting. There will be eight operational periods and those interested must apply as a team with a minimum of two individuals and maximum of six individuals per team.
There are other requirements, too, including physical fitness. You can find out more and apply online.