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Contact: Denise Germann, 406 888-5838
Contact: Jennifer Lutman, 406 888-7895
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park, in partnership with the University of Montana, has begun a three-year research study on how mountain goats are affected by roads, people and trails in the Logan Pass area. Currently, six mountain goats have been successfully collared by National Park Service staff, University of Montana researchers, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks personnel with GPS or VHF radio devices. Collaring efforts will continue through the fall as weather permits. It is anticipated approximately 20-25 goats will be collared of the estimated 1,500 goats in the park.
Data collected from collared goats will provide information on the animal's use of Logan Pass and adjacent areas, as well as movement on the landscape throughout the year. Collars will remain on the goats for three years at which point a mechanism will release allowing the collar to fall to the ground. The collar will then be retrieved by researchers. The use of the release mechanism means that goats will only be handled once.
The study also incorporates observational, temporary marking, and visitor messaging techniques. Researchers will spend time observing and recording human-goat interactions. Informational signs about human-goat interactions will be placed in the Logan Pass area. A few goats that will not be able to be collared may be temporarily marked to enable a researcher to visually distinguish between individual goats.
Research on bighorn sheep will be conducted simultaneously, with observational, temporary marking, and visitor messaging techniques. No collars will be placed on bighorn sheep, as individual sheep are easier to identify due to unique horn variations.
The research is a critical component of the current Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management planning effort, as human-wildlife interactions within the corridor are an identified issue of concern. Interactions between humans and goats are increasing in the Logan Pass area, creating potential unhealthy and unsafe conditions.
Glacier National Park Superintendent Jeff Mow said, "Mountain goats are an icon of Glacier National Park and the information gathered from this study will play a valuable role in future management decisions. Ensuring the safety of both mountain goats and staff conducting research is our top priority with this project."
A short video regarding the mountain goat study can be viewed at http://youtu.be/houINqfHysc.