Olympic National Park begins process to develop mountain goat management plan

The National Park Service is beginning to develop procedures for managing mountain goats in Olympic National Park, superintendent Sarah Creachbaum announced Monday.

A notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for a mountain goat management plan ran in Monday’s Federal Register.

“We are pleased to ask the public to help us develop a long-term plan for managing the population of exotic mountain goats in Olympic National Park,” Creachbaum said in a news release.

“We have drafted some preliminary alternative concepts that we’d like the public to reflect and comment on during this initial scoping period. And, of course, we are also interested in additional alternative concepts people may have.”

The need for a plan was driven by ecological concerns raised by the impact of goats on the park’s natural resources, particularly sensitive vegetation, according to a park news release.

Concerns for public safety came to the forefront in 2010 when a mountain goat fatally gored a hiker on a park trail at Hurricane Ridge.

The goal of the plan is to provide for management of mountain goats and to consider the nonnative goats’ effects on natural processes and habitats, as well as visitor safety, according to the release.

Mountain goats were introduced on the Olympic Peninsula in the 1920s. By the early 1980s, more than 1,000 goats were living in the park, according to a park document.

Several hundred goats were removed during the 1980s, reducing the population to fewer than 400 by 1990. From 1994 to 2004, the population remained stable at about 300 goats. In 2011, the population began to grow at a 5 percent annual rate, the document said.

The environmental impact statement will include several alternative actions the park will consider.

According to the notice of intent, preliminary alternatives include taking no action, capturing and moving the animals, killing them, increased nuisance control and a combination of the alternatives.

More information, including the purpose and need for the plan, its objectives and preliminary alternative concepts, can be found at parkplanning.nps.gov/olymgoat.

Comments can be submitted electronically or in writing at one of three workshops scheduled for next month. Comments also can be mailed to Superintendent, Olympic National Park, 600 E. Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

Comments should be submitted by Sept. 19.

For more information or to be added to the Olympic National Park Mountain Goat Management Plan mailing list, visit the website or call the park at 360-565-3004.