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mt. goat relocation: temporary closures

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WDFW NEWS RELEASE 
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091 

http://wdfw.wa.gov/

June 27, 2019

Contacts:
Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park, 360-565-3005
Colton Whitworth, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 425-783-6050
Deborah Kelly, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 509-664-9247
Susan Garner, Olympic National Forest, 360-956-2390
Samantha Montgomery, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-688-0721

Agencies to begin second year of translocating mountain goats from the Olympics to the Cascades

Starting July 8, a coalition of state and federal agencies, with support from local tribes, will begin the second two-week round of translocating mountain goats from Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the northern Cascade Mountains to meet wildlife management goals in all three areas.

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 Olympics in the 1920s.

"A project of this magnitude would be impossible without our partner agencies and the expertise and cooperation of hundreds of people," said Olympic National Park Wildlife Branch Chief Dr. Patti Happe.  "The interagency collaboration and the support from everyone involved is extraordinary."

Area tribes lending support to the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes. Volunteers from the Point No Point Treaty Council, Quileute Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, Skokomish Indian Tribe, and Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe will also be assisting at the staging areas in the Olympics.

In May 2018, the NPS released the final Mountain Goat Management Plan which outlined the effort to remove mountain goats on the Olympic Peninsula. The population of mountain goats at that time was estimated at 725. Both the plan and the associated environmental impact statement were finalized after an extensive public review process which began in 2014.

The first two-week capture period in September 2018 removed 115 mountain goats from the population in the park. An additional two-week period is planned for this year beginning August 19 through 30.

"Mountain goat relocation will allow these animals to reoccupy historical range areas in the Cascades and increase population viability," said Jesse Plumage, USFS Wildlife Biologist.

While some mountain goat populations in the north Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent from many areas of its historic range.

Aerial capture operations will be conducted through a contract with Leading Edge Aviation, a private company that specializes in the capture and transport of wild animals. The helicopter crew will use immobilizing darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transport them in specially made slings to the staging areas.

While capture operations will be conducted throughout the park and national forest for both two-week periods, a few locations that are known to have a high number of mountain goats will be areas of focus for the capture crew. On the first two days of the capture period, the emphasis will be on the Klahhane Ridge and Appleton Pass areas. The Seven Lakes Basin area and the Lake of the Angels area in the southeast have a high number of mountain goats that the capture crew will be working to remove.  In August, Mount Ellinor in Olympic National Forest will be an area of focus.

This year there will be two staging areas for each two-week period.  For July and August, one staging area will be located on Hurricane Hill Road beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center in Olympic National Park. The other staging area will be located in Olympic National Forest in the Hamma Hamma area in July and switch to the Mt. Ellinor area in August. The staging areas will be closed to public access.

The animals will be cared for by veterinarians before WDFW wildlife managers transport them to staging areas in the north Cascades for release. To maximize success, goats will be airlifted in their crates by helicopter directly to alpine habitats that have been selected for appropriate characteristics.

WDFW plans to release the mountain goats at six sites in the Cascades in July. Three of the release sites will be staged from the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (MBS). These release sites include the Chikamin area on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Preacher Mountain on the MBS, and Hardscrabble Ridge on an inholding owned by Forterra. Two release areas are near mountain peaks south of the town of Darrington on the Darrington District of the MBS.The other is near Mt. Index on the Skykomish Ranger District of the MBS.

Mountain goats follow and approach hikers because they are attracted to the salt from their sweat, urine, and food. That behavior is less likely in the north Cascades where visitors are more widely distributed than those at Olympic National Park, said Dr. Rich Harris, a WDFW wildlife manager who specializes in mountain goats.

"In addition, the north Cascades has natural salt licks, while the Olympic Peninsula has virtually none," Harris said. "We'd expect salt hunger to be lower in goats that have natural sources available to them."

Trail Impacts and Road Closures

Hurricane Hill Road, beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center parking lot, will be closed to all access during both operational periods. Hurricane Hill Road will remain open up to Picnic Area A on July 5 and July 6 during the setup of the staging area. The road will then be closed completely beyond the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center from July 7 through 20 for mobilization, capture operations, and demobilization. This closure includes the Hurricane Hill Trail, Little River Trail, and Wolf Creek Trail. The Klahhane Ridge area will close temporarily on July 8 and 9 for visitor and employee safety during capture operations. The area of Seven Lakes Basin/High Divide/ Heart Lake/ Hoh Lake/ to Cat Basin will be closed to hiking and overnight camping July 7 through 11. The area of Lake of the Angels, accessed from Putvin Trail #813 off Forest Road 25 in Olympic National Forest, will be closed at mile 3 at the park boundary from July 9 through July 18.

For the July release operations on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, land adjacent to the roadway at the junctions of Forest Service Roads 49 and 4920 will be closed from July 9 through July 21, 2019.

For the August capture operations, the Mount Ellinor trails system and Forest Road 2419 to Mount Ellinor, as well as Forest Road 2464 leading to Forest Road 2419, will be closed to the public starting the evening of August 18 until the morning of August 30.

For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, see WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/oreamnos-americanus

For more information and updates on the project, visit www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.

 

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WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

http://wdfw.wa.gov/

Sept.12, 2019

Contacts:
Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park, 360-565-3004
Colton Whitworth, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, 425-783-6050
Deborah Kelly, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 509-664-9247
Susan Garner, Olympic National Forest, 360-956-2390
Samantha Montgomery, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 360-688-0721

August capture and translocation activities moved 101 mountain goats to Northern Cascades Mountains

Capture and translocation operations are now complete for 2019 with 101 mountain goats moved from Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest to the northern Cascade Mountains. Since September 2018, a total of 275 mountain goats have been translocated.  An additional two-week capture and translocation period is planned for summer 2020.

This effort is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish and 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.  Though some mountain goat populations in the North Cascades have recovered since the 1990s, the species is still absent or rare in many areas of its historic range. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

In addition to the 101 mountain goats released in the North Cascades, there were seven adult mortalities related to capture, plus four animals that could not be captured safely were lethally removed.

Ten mountain goat kids that were not able to be kept with their families were transferred to Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in 2019. One will remain at Northwest Trek and live in the park's 435-acre free-roaming area. The other nine kids will have new homes at other zoos. A total of 16 mountain goat kids have been given permanent homes in zoos: six in 2018 and ten in 2019.

August 2019 Results

Translocated

Zoo

Capture Mortalities

Transport Mortalities

Euthanized

Lethally Removed

101

10

7

0

0

4

Leading Edge Aviation, a private company which specializes in the capture of wild animals, conducted aerial capture operations through a contract. The helicopter crew used immobilizing darts and net guns to capture mountain goats and transported them in specially-made slings to the staging areas located at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park and the Hamma Hamma area in Olympic National Forest. The animals were examined and treated by veterinarians before volunteers working with WDFW transported them to pre-selected staging areas in the North Cascades. The mountain goats were transported in refrigerated trucks to keep them cool.

Once at the staging areas, WDFW and participating Tribal biologists worked with HiLine Aviation to airlift the crated goats to release areas where volunteers and Forest Service wildlife biologists assisted with the release. Release areas were chosen based on their high quality mountain goat habitat, proximity to the staging areas, and limited disturbance to recreationists. Weather did complicate airlifting goats to preferred locations on 6 days, but crews were able to airlift goats to alternative locations on these days.

"We were very fortunate to have a long stretch of good weather in August which enabled us to safely catch mountain goats throughout the Olympics and make good progress towards reaching our translocation goals," said Dr. Patti Happe, Wildlife Branch Chief at Olympic National Park "Many thanks to all the volunteers and cooperators, including several biologists and former National Park Service staff who came out of retirement to assist with the project." 

During this round, release sites in the Cascades included Cadet Ridge and Cadet Creek, Milk Lakes on Lime Ridge, Pear Lake, and between Prairie and Whitechuck Mountains on the Darrington Ranger District of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest; between Vesper and Big Four Mountains on Washington Department of Natural Resource Lands; on Hardscrabble Ridge and privately-held land; and near Tower Mountain on the Methow Ranger District of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

"An operation such as this is impossible without the support and participation of a large team," said Dr. Rich Harris, a WDFW wildlife manager who specializes in mountain goats. "All have worked tirelessly to give every goat the best possible chance at a new beginning in native habitat. In future years, we hope to be able to look back with the satisfaction of knowing we helped restore this wonderful species where there are currently so few."

Area tribes lending support to the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit tribes. Volunteers from the Point No Point Treaty Council, Quileute Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, Makah Tribe, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Skokomish Indian Tribe, and Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe also assisted at the staging areas in the Olympics

A total of 22 mountain goats were removed from Olympic National Forest in August. Sixteen mountain goats were removed from the Mount Ellinor and Mount Washington area and six from The Brothers Wilderness. 

"This operation would not have been possible without the invaluable assistance of volunteers, including the Olympia Mountaineers," said Susan Piper, Forest Wildlife Biologist with Olympic National Forest.  "We also want to acknowledge that having popular destinations such as Mount Ellinor and Lake of the Angels closed may have been inconvenient to visitors, but it was important to have a safe and successful capture operation in those areas."

In May 2018, 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.

For more information about mountain goats in Washington State, see WDFW's website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/oreamnos-americanus

For more information and updates on the project, visit nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/mountain-goat-capture-and-translocation.htm.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

 

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