Aggressive mountain goats in Olympic National Park: how to help decide their fate

Concerned over aggressive behavior and environmental impacts of hundreds of salt-sucking mountain goats, Olympic National Park officials are considering relocating some and killing others.

The goats are too gruff.

Concerned over aggressive behavior and environmental impacts of hundreds of salt-sucking mountain goats, Olympic National Park officials are considering options to deal with the problematic ungulates. Plans include capturing mountain goats and relocating them to North Cascades national forests, killing the goats with shotguns or rifles fired from helicopters, a combination of those options or continuing present policy.

Park officials now follow an action plan for aggressive goats that includes tracking interactions, closing areas where goats follow people, hazing goats and even killing some goats that are aggressive and unresponsive to hazing.

Going forward, the park favors capturing as many goats as possible before eliminating those “determined to be uncatchable,” according to an environmental-impact statement that outlines the park’s options. Carcasses of killed goats “would be left on the landscape.” The population of goats unable to be caught or killed would be too small for mountain goats to rebound, the impact statement says.

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A park survey in 2016 estimated that 625 mountain goats live in the park. Populations have risen about 8 percent each year on average since 2004, according to the impact statement.

In 2010, a mountain goat known to be troublesome gored and killed a 63-year-old man, then stood over his body and stared other hikers down, according to a witness.

The killing reinvigorated park discussions about how to manage mountain goats. The park service believes mountain goats are not native to the Olympic Peninsula.

Park officials in the 1980s removed hundreds of goats by helicopter and considered eradicating the goat population by shooting mountain goats in the 1990s, before public outcry from animal-rights supporters tabled that idea.

Park officials are hosting four open houses about the mountain-goat management plan, including one at the Seattle Public Library at 5 p.m. Aug. 17.

Members of the public can share their thoughts about the park’s mountain-goat management plan through Sept. 26. The park will review comments before

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