Olympic National Park officials are weighing several options to remove nonnative mountain goats from the park, including a plan to capture and relocate as many goats as possible and shooting others.
In releasing a draft environmental review Monday, park officials say the plan will allow them to reduce environmental impacts and protect public safety.
Mountain goats have long posed an environmental problem for the park, including a fatal goring of a hiker in 2010.
Acting Olympic National Park Superintendent Lee Taylor said, “Mountain goats are not native to the Olympic Peninsula and cause impacts to park resources and create safety risks for park visitors.”
The park’s preferred alternative calls for capturing and relocating goats to national forests in the North Cascade Mountains and then switching to lethal removal. Three other options include exclusively killing the goats, relocating them, or taking no action.
Mountain goats are native to the North Cascades, but exist in low numbers in many areas.
Both the U.S. Forest Service and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have long been interested in restoring mountain goats to these depleted areas. Currently more than 600 goats now graze the park.
The National Park Service announced its plan to develop a Mountain Goat Management Plan/EIS in July 2014. Public workshops were held in August 2014 and public comments were invited. Approximately 100 pieces of correspondence were received and used in developing the Draft Mountain Goat Management Plan EIS.
A population survey of mountain goats in the Olympic Mountains conducted in summer of 2016 showed that the population increased an average of eight percent annually from 2004-2016. If this rate of population growth were sustained, the population would increase by 45 percent over the next five years.
A series of public meetings are scheduled for mid-August and the public is invited to participate.
• Monday 8/14: Olympia Olympic National Forest Supervisor’s Office 1835 Black Lake Blvd. SW Olympia, WA 98512 360-956-2300 Time: 5-7 p.m.
• Tuesday 8/15: Port Angeles Olympic National Park Visitor Center 3002 Mount Angeles Road Port Angeles, WA 98362 360-565-3004 Time: 6-8 p.m.
• Wednesday 8/16: Everett Everett Public Library Auditorium 2702 Hoyt Ave. Everett, WA 98201 425-257-8000 Time: 5-7 p.m.
• Thursday 8/17: Seattle Seattle Public Library (Douglass-Truth Branch) 2300 Yesler Way Seattle, WA 98122 260-684-4704 Time: 5-7 p.m.
There will be a short 15 minute presentation at 5:15 p.m. each evening, except 6:15 p.m. for the Port Angeles meeting, followed by an open house where staff will be present to answer questions.
This comment period also serves as the final designated comment period to provide specific written comments to be eligible to object to the U.S. Forest Service decisions on this project. The opportunity to comment ends 60 days following the date of the publication of the EPA Notice Of Availability in the Federal Register.
The draft EIS is available for review and comment at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/olymgoat.
Copies of the draft EIS will also be available at public libraries in Darrington, Enumclaw, Granite Falls, North Bend, Sedro-Woolley, Skykomish, Sultan, Aberdeen, Amanda Park, Hoquiam, Hoodsport, Forks, Port Angeles and Port Townsend. Comments will also be accepted during scheduled public meetings or can be mailed or hand-delivered to: Superintendent, Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362. To ensure your comments are included in this process, they must be entered into the above referenced website or postmarked by September 26.