Governor, Game and Fish back park’s goat cull

JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon expressed his support for Grand Teton National Park’s newly-released plan to manage nonnative mountain goats within park boundaries by allowing qualified volunteers to harvest the animals. The updated plan came after the governor called for a halt to the aerial gunning of goats to reduce their numbers earlier this year.

“I am delighted that Grand Teton National Park officials have chosen to take a different, more sensible approach to addressing this important wildlife management issue,” Governor Gordon said. “From the very beginning, we have expressed our desire to partner with the Park to find a solution that achieves management objectives for this population and respects Wyoming values.”

The governor’s position was supported by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, who adamantly recommended volunteers play a role in the operation. The commission passed a resolution in Jan. 2020 condemning the use of aerial gunning to manage goats and urged Grand Teton to use skilled volunteers as the removal method. In a letter that same month, Brian Nesvik, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, made the same recommendation.

Game and Fish public information officer Sara DiRienzo said the two agencies were working together to eradicate nonnative mountain goats within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park in order to reduce the potential for interactions between goats and bighorn sheep.

“This objective is important to both agencies and the State of Wyoming. Grand Teton has worked with the Game and Fish to develop the plan to reduce mountain goats through the qualified volunteer program, and it puts the public at the forefront of helping to manage wildlife. Game and Fish supports the process to vet and use qualified volunteers to help manage nonnative mountain goats,” DiRienzo said.

“The use of qualified volunteers underscores how public participation is a key tenant of how wildlife is managed in Wyoming. The opportunity for the public to aid in the reduction of mountain goats — a wildlife management action — is essential to our state and reflective of the high-value we place on the wildlife resource,” Nesvik added.

Grand Teton Park will manage the qualified volunteer program, and the methods and approach were developed in collaboration with Game and Fish.

Mountain goat meat harvested by qualified volunteers will be utilized to the greatest extent possible by the qualified volunteer who took the mountain goat or by donating the meat to organizations that work to address hunger.

“While the hunt is ongoing, Game and Fish will work with the park and qualified volunteers to issue meat donation coupons. This is so meat, to the greatest extent it can be recovered, can legally go either volunteers themselves or to hungry families, through programs like Food from the Field – the First Lady’s hunger initiative,” DiRienzo assured.

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