Nonnative Species

Canada Thistle in Moraine Park after the Fern Lake Fire
Canada Thistle spread quickly after the Fern Lake Fire in Moraine Park.



The National Park Service defines a non-native species as one that occurs as a result of direct or indirect, deliberate, or accidental actions by humans. This definition recognizes that parks are places intended to preserve natural, ecologically balanced communities. Often non-natives disrupt this balance.

Leafy spurge patches in Upper Beaver Meadows
Leafy spurge can take over if left uncontrolled.


Non-Native Plants

Non-native plant species may dramatically change a visual landscape by completely dominating an area that once held a mix of native species. Leafy spurge, a plant that has been found in the park, is an example of a species that has had this type of impact where it has been left uncontrolled. Another non-native plant of concern, common burdock, has been documented to fatally trap hummingbirds with its sticky sap. A list of other species can bee seen on the Exotic Plant List page.

At the present time, treatment for non-native species includes the full range of IPM techniques, including the use of synthetic herbicides. See Rocky's Invasive Exotic Plant Management Plan page for more information.

Mountain Goat
Mountain goat in the Mt. Evans, Colorado area.


Mountain Goats

Mountain goats were introduced to the Mt. Evans, Colorado area by Colorado's Parks and Wildlife (previously Colorado Division of Wildlife), and individuals occasionally make their way north to the park. Because these animals carry diseases that can infect bighorn sheep, and also compete with the native sheep for food, the park has taken active measures to remove goats that enter the park. The goats are usually captured and taken back to Mount Evans. However, park policy permits agency shooting of goats if they cannot be trapped.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


(970) 586-1206
Have questions? We've got answers! Call 8am–4:30pm Mountain Time to speak with park staff (recorded information after hours). For Trail Ridge Road status, call (970) 586-1222.

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