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Contact: Denise Germann, 307-739-3393
The National Park Service is accepting applications for qualified volunteers to help cull non-native mountain goats as part of Grand Teton National Park’s management plan aimed to conserve a native and vulnerable population of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Teton Range.
The use of qualified volunteers is a tool identified in the National Park Service’s 2019 Mountain Goat Management Plan based on requests from Wyoming Game and Fish Department and in line with guidance in the 2019 John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.
There is widespread interest among local, state, and national stakeholders in conserving the Teton Range bighorn sheep herd. The National Park Service is working on this project in cooperation with federal and state partners including the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
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. The National Park Service has a responsibility to protect native species and reduce the potential for local extinction of a native species within the park.
Mountain goats are not native to Grand Teton National Park. Mountain goats were introduced into the Snake River Range in Idaho and over the years, their population expanded and reached the Teton Range. Mountain goats can carry bacterial diseases that are lethal to bighorn sheep. The Teton Range bighorn sheep population has been relatively isolated and are therefore likely ‘naïve’ to these diseases.
The growth rate of the non-native mountain goat population suggests that complete removal in the future may become unattainable unless immediate action is taken.
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.
In order to safely and successfully participate in this program, volunteers must have a high level of physical fitness as they may need to hike up to 20 miles per day at altitude in extremely rough mountainous terrain under a variety of weather conditions. All volunteers will receive training in bear spray deployment, backcountry tracking, radio protocols, species identification, and potentially, disease sample collection. Applicants must be United States citizens and at least 18 years of age. Volunteers may not have active warrants, past wildlife violations, or violations associated with Grand Teton National Park, and must pass a mandatory firearm proficiency evaluation.
Qualified volunteers interested in participating in the program may learn more and apply online at https://www.nps.gov/grte/getinvolved/mountain-goat-management-volunteer.htm. The park will stop accepting applications once 240 applications have been received. Successful applicants will be randomly selected for each operational period.
There are key differences between a culling program in a national park and traditional recreational hunting.
- Culling in a national park is done exclusively for conservation and stewardship purposes, while hunting is primarily for recreation or procuring food.
- Culling in a national park is conducted under controlled circumstances with the supervision of National Park Service personnel, while hunting is performed at the hunter’s discretion, subject to applicable licensing and laws.
- Volunteers may not keep a trophy when participating in a culling program in a national park. The meat may be donated or distributed to Indian Tribes, qualified volunteers, food banks, and other organizations that work to address hunger, in accordance with applicable health guidelines.
- Culling in a national park does not generate revenue and does not include fair chase.
Last updated: August 11, 2020