A mountain goat in GTNP, May, 2020. Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

MOOSE, WY— The mountain goat cull will occur again this fall, Grand Teton National Park announced today July 23.

The program is set to run from Sept. 22 through Oct. 25.

This time around, the park will only use qualified volunteers who had participated in the program last year. The park will not be accepting new applicants. Past volunteers will once again be required to undergo a background check, and may not have active warrants, past wildlife violations, or violations associated with Grand Teton National Park. Volunteers identified as shooters must successfully pass a mandatory firearm proficiency evaluation. All volunteers are United States citizens and at least 18 years of age.

The multi-year program began in 2020, to eradicate non-native mountain goats. The program aims to conserve the native population of Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep in the Teton Range.

The Teton Range is home to a small herd of native bighorn sheep that is currently estimated to have at least 125 animals. As one of the smaller and most isolated herds in Wyoming, that has never been extirpated or augmented, it is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers, and visitors.

Mountain goats are not native to Grand Teton National Park. Mountain goats were introduced into the Snake River Range in Idaho and over the years, their population expanded and reached the Teton Range. Mountain goats can carry bacterial diseases that are lethal to bighorn sheep. The Teton Range bighorn sheep population has been relatively isolated and is therefore likely ‘naïve’ to these diseases.

Without immediate intervention, the mountain goat population is expected to grow and could contribute to the potential extirpation of the native bighorn sheep.

In 2020, 108 volunteers removed 43 non-native mountain goats. According to the park, it is estimated that about 50 goats remain in the park.

Volunteers may not keep a trophy when participating in a culling program in a national park. The meat may be donated or distributed to Indian Tribes, qualified volunteers, food banks, and other organizations that work to address hunger, in accordance with applicable health guidelines.

The National Park Service is working on this project in cooperation with federal and state partners including the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and with guidance identified in the 2019 John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.

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Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.