Removal of Olympic National Park mountain goats could start in late summer

  It might be time to start saying your goodbyes to Olympic National Park’s mountain goats. Some could be removed from the park as early as this summer.

The National Park Service released its final goat-management plan, and the agency’s preferred plan — to remove as many goats as possible for relocation to the North Cascades and then kill the remaining animals — remains largely unchanged from a previous draft.

For decades, officials have sought to eradicate mountain goats from the park only to be thwarted by activists or politicians unconvinced that the charismatic megafauna needed to be moved or killed.

Park officials argue that the nonnative goats have harmed species unique to Olympic National Park. They believe the park’s ecology should be restored to its original state.

Over five years, the Park Service estimates, about half of an estimated 725 goats would be transported to new homes in the North Cascades, according to the plan. Helicopters could be used to capture goats.

Goats moved to the North Cascades would boost a population diminished by years of overhunting, biologists say. Mountain goats are native to the Cascade range. Extra goats — and genetic diversity — could be the boost needed to see those populations grow with consistency.

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