A short video on the mountain goat removal and translocation efforts between the Olympic and Cascade mountains.
3 minutes, 56 seconds
Current Project Status
This effort is a partnership 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 also removing non-native goats from the Olympic Mountains. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympic Mountains in the 1920s.
Under the approved Mountain Goat Management Plan/EIS, the first priority was to capture and translocate mountain goats to the Cascade Range where the populations are both native and depleted. One, 2-week capture and translocation operation occurred in 2020. In this fourth and final round of capture and translocation, a total of 50 mountain goats were captured and translocated to the northern Cascade Mountains which brought the overall total to 325 mountain goats released into the Cascade Mountains since the work began in 2018.
The plan calls for ceasing capture operations once they were no longer safe or efficient due to the remaining goats residing in terrain that is unsafe for capture operations. As predicted in the plan, the mountain goats were harder to catch safely as the operations progressed. By the fourth and final round of capture and translocation in August 2020, capture mortality increased from an average 5.2% after the first round to 9.1% and flight hours per live capture increased from 0.59 hours after the first round to 1.31 hours per goat. The remaining goats cannot be safely or efficiently captured. Overall, the project met the objectives of the capture and translocation phase of the Mountain Goat Management Plan/EIS. The total number of flight hours for capture (270 hours) was less than the estimated maximum hours, capture success was better than predicted, and WDFW released the estimated number of mountain goats into the Cascade Mountains thus achieving project goals there.
Olympic National Park recruited skilled volunteers to assist with the ground-based lethal removal of the remaining non-native mountain goats from the park in the fall of 2020. The ground-based lethal removal program using qualified volunteers ended in October 2020 with a total of 31 mountain goats culled from the population in the park. Ninety-nine highly skilled volunteers, organized in 20 groups of three to six volunteers per group, volunteered over 9000 hours while participating in the program. Ten mountain goats were removed in the first round, 18 were removed in the second round, and 3 were removed in the final round. Read the full news release.
The lethal removal phase of the plan switched to aerial operations for 2021. Two, 2-week aerial operations occurred in late July and late August/early September 2021. Sixty-five mountain goats were lethally removed in July and 48 were lethally removed in August.
A total of 525 mountain goats have now been removed from the Olympic Peninsula as of August 2021. As outlined in the Mountain Goat Management Plan/EIS, the last year for the active management phase of the plan is 2022. Two, 2-week aerial operations will occur in the summer 2022: July 11-22 and August 15-26. (Map and info on trail closures)
Overall Mountain Goat Management Project Results
September 2018 - September 2021
Translocated to Cascades
Transferred to Zoo
Two, 2-week capture operations occured in 2019.
July 2019: 76 mountain goats were translocated.
August 2019: 101 mountain goats were translocated.
Since September 2018, a total of 275 mountain goats have been translocated from Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the northern Cascade Mountains. An additional two-week capture and translocation period is planned for summer 2020.
2018 Operation Summary
The 2-week capture activities ended September 23 and the final translocation by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife took place on September 24. A total of 115 mountain goats were removed from the park. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) only translocated mountain goats from the park to the non-wilderness release sites within the North Cascades national forests during this first round.
The National Park Service released its Record of Decision (ROD) for the Mountain Goat Management Plan/Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in late June 2018 which outlines the effort to remove the 725 mountain goats estimated on the Olympic Peninsula at that time. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014. The United States Forest Service (USFS) signed its ROD in December 2018, which allowed the mountain goat capture and translocation activities to include USFS wilderness.
While mountain goats are not native to the Olympic Peninsula, they are native to the Cascade Mountains but exist in low numbers in many areas. Both the USFS and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) have long been interested in restoring mountain goats to these depleted areas.
The overall plan is to reach a zero population level of mountain goats in the park and adjacent Olympic National Forest lands through capture and translocation and then lethal removal. The top priority was capture and translocation of goats to the Cascade Range where the populations are both native and depleted. Once capture operations become impractical or hazardous due to steep terrain the remaining goats would be removed by lethal means.