Why are Mountain Goats considered native in one park but not in another right next door ?
Updated: Jan 4
Photo of Mountain Goat and her kid @ Yellowstone NP (NPS)
By Staci-lee Sherwood
Last year marked a turning point for the Grand Teton National Park. They were busy getting ready for their first trophy hunt inside the park of Mountain Goats. For several years hunters had already been allowed to hunt Elk, thanks to the revisions made of guidelines after the park expanded its boundaries. The park service refers to this as their ‘Elk management’ program. As I’ve said in the past wildlife, including elk, managed to survive thousands of years before human bureaucrats and hunters decided they knew better.
As is often the case this program has its share of mishaps. Back in 2015 a hunter was caught killing a bull elk and over the years several supposedly protected grizzly bears had been shot and killed by hunters. One can assume the park officials failed to hand out any punishment for that. Then in 2019 the elk hunting program was scaled back but whether or not hunters abide by that is anyone’s guess.
Hunting inside a national park is suppose to be prohibited but it’s not with this park because there is still some privately owned land within its boundaries. For some this would seem like the exception to a rule that is suppose to keep both wild animals and visiting tourists safe. Now that people have accepted the elk being hunted they have moved on to other big game. Mountain goats came next to be added to the list.
According to park officials they are permanently removing the mountain goats out of concern for their big horn sheep. They state this is being done for health concerns pertaining to a bacterial disease the goats may or may not have and may or may not spread to the sheep. Based on some paleontological digs mountain goats were once native to the park but had died out. The current population are the descendants from reintroduced goats nearly a century ago. The estimated population in 2020 was about 100 only half that remain until the 2021 hunting starts.
Yellowstone National Park sits about sixty miles away and is surrounded by three national forests which bridge the gap between the two parks. The entire greater Yellowstone ecosystem encompasses over thirty four thousand square miles or twenty two million acres. The park also has about two hundred goats along with the sheep and at least for now they are taking the live and let live attitude. It seems odd that Grand Teton would chose to have their small population gunned down instead of moving them just a few miles into a vast ecosystem larger than some countries.
As anyone can see Grand Teton NP is next door to Yellowstone NP
One has to wonder why the park officials who are paid to watch over the park and all its inhabitants are so quick to kill off the goats. Aside from nearby Yellowstone Park they could have moved them to Washington state. According to the National Park Service, this would be the same park service that oversees Grand Teton, Olympic National Park is having their mountain goats moved to the Cascade Range where that population had been depleted. Back in 2020 Olympic also had a limited hunt but switched to aerial relocation in 2021 for the remaining population. Perhaps their change of plans was due to public pressure or perhaps they saw the idiocy of killing off a few hundred goats instead of moving them to their current native range a few hundred miles away.
If park officials wanted to do the right thing they could have had hundreds of volunteers who would have made the relocation possible. Instead they have fallen back to the old ways prior to the 1930s when the National Park Service had a heavy lead filled hand in their wildlife policy. This is not how our public lands should be managed and in fact the land isn’t the one needing management but rather the park officials are.
The rush to have hunts inside a national park is a very disturbing trend. Park officials claim it’s not a ‘trophy’ hunt because the outside hunters can’t keep any parts of the animal. They fail to see that the ‘trophy’ is getting to hunt unique animals inside a national park. They deliberately downplay that unless they are called out and then no response. Go on any hunting site and they all brag about bagging a bison at Grand Canyon or a mountain goat at Grand Teton. Here is what one hunter had to say about his experience
“In my days as a hunter, I would say it’s the most challenging hunt that I’ve ever done,” Mertaugh said. “I can say that without a doubt. It was also one of the most rewarding hunts that I’ve done.” This came from an article called “Mountaineering with a rifle” .
Hunting inside a national park is a trend most Americans do not want. It’s horrific enough to see our wild horses and burros rounded up and removed off public lands only to make way for non native cattle now we have hunting in national parks. It’s not only the outside hunters doing the dirty work sometimes it’s the park rangers themselves. This is the case with Mesa Verde National Park where the few wild horses who called that park home are being removed and their fate is unknown.
Even worse is the National Park Service treatment of the endangered Tule Elk that are endemic to that one area in California the Point Reyes National Seashore. Despite the park having some seventy thousand acres the park rangers fenced in the elk leaving them just over two thousand acres to forage and live. Now they are all being killed to make room for non native destructive cows. These cows will no doubt strip the park bare as they have done throughout the millions of acres of public land they now feed on for a nickel a day.
There will be more on the tragic story of the Tule elk to come. If you would like to read how bison are being hunted inside Grand Canyon National Park click here
Really makes one wonder how necessary it is to have that burger or steak when it causes so much death and suffering.
*If you would like to voice your complaint please contact* :
Dept of Interior Secretary Haaland firstname.lastname@example.org. 1-202-208-3100
National Park Service 202-208-6843
Superintendent of Grand Teton NP Chip Jenkins 307-739-3300 Chip_Jenkins@nps.gov
Gov of Wyoming Mark Gordon 307.777.7434
For listing of state Bureau of Land Management offices/numbers click here https://www.blm.gov/office/national-office
Elk in Grand Teton
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