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Contact: Penny Wagner, 360-565-3004
Contact: Rachel Blomker, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-701-3101
Contact: Tracy O’Toole, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 425-783-6015
Monday, September 24 marked the final day for a two-week long capture and translocation process which moved 98 mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains. Two additional two-week periods are planned for 2019. Capture and translocation may continue into 2020 depending on the results of the efforts in 2019.
This effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a coalition between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades. While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent or rare from many areas of its historic range.
Overall, 115 mountain goats were removed from the population in the park. Of these, 98 were translocated to the northern Cascade Mountains including 11 kids which were released with their nannies. Six mountain goat kids that could not be paired up with their mothers were transferred to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park. There were six adult mortalities related to capture, two adult mortalities which occurred during transport the first day, and three animals which were euthanized because they were unfit for translocation.
|Capture Total||# Translocated||NW Trek||Capture Mortalities||Transport Mortalities||Euthanized|
“The success of this year’s translocation effort is thanks to the cooperation and expertise of more than 175 people, including 77 volunteers from WDFW,” said Olympic National Park Wildlife Branch Chief Dr. Patti Happe. “The collaboration with our partner agencies and the support from everyone involved was phenomenal.”
Aerial capture operations were conducted through a contract with a private company, Leading Edge Aviation, which specializes in the capture of wild animals. The helicopter crew used tranquilizer darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transported them in specially made slings to the staging area on Hurricane Hill Road. Due to weather, the helicopter crew was only able to operate for 10 out of the 14 days, and several of those days ended early.
The animals were examined by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transported them overnight to staging areas in the north Cascades for release the following day.
WDFW released mountain goats at five selected sites in the Cascades with the help of tribal and University biologists, and of Hi-Line Aviation of Darrington, Washington. Two of the release areas were near mountain peaks south of the town of Darrington, on the Darrington District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The others sites were located northwest of Kachess Lake (just south of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness) in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Tower Peak in the Methow area of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and the headwaters of the Cedar River Drainage, which is land owned by Seattle Public Utilities.
In May, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlines the effort to remove the estimated 725 mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014. This month’s two-week effort to move mountain goats to native habitat in the northern Cascades was the first translocation operation since the release of the final Mountain Goat Management Plan. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.
Area tribes lending support to the translocation effort in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes.
For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, see WDFW’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/mountain_goats.html.