State game officials condemn park’s plan to gun down goats

JACKSON, Wyo. — State wild game managers called into question the feds’ plan to gun down goats from choppers in Grand Teton.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission condemned the National Park Service’s planned use of aerial gunning to remove mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) at their regular meeting Wednesday.

“While we recognize Grand Teton National Park’s efforts to address the expansion of mountain goats in native bighorn sheep ranges, the department has been consistent in voicing our concerns about the use of aerial lethal removal,” said Brian Nesvik, Game and Fish director. “We have communicated several times, in multiple ways, as recently as today, our recommendation to use skilled volunteer hunters to achieve their objectives to reduce mountain goat populations.”

The GTNP Mountain Goat Management Plan outlined a variety of methods to address the expansion of mountain goats in the Teton Range. Those mountain goats pose a risk of disease transmission to the core native Targhee bighorn sheep herd.

“This decision to use aerial gunning flies in the face of all Wyoming values with how we approach wildlife management,” said Game and Fish Commissioner Mike Schmid.

Inclement weather ultimately grounded the plan to close portions of the national park while culling was to have taken place from January 5-12. The plan has come under local scrutiny for its heavy-handed methods. Some wonder whether hunters or trained volunteers can’t be utilized to harvest the animals.

The commission’s resolution calls for the National Park Service to immediately cancel plans to kill the goats through aerial gunning and instead implement a plan allowing the goats to be removed by skilled volunteers. The resolution passed unanimously with the commissioners opting for a rare roll call vote to clearly articulate and memorialize their message.

“Leaving carcasses to rot, where there is no utilization of that resource, rather than allow sportsman to go out with park supervision and training to harvest an animal — like is done with elk — I can’t understand that decision,” said Game and Fish Commissioner Pat Crank.

In addition to the Commission’s resolution, Nesvik also sent a letter to the acting superintendent of Grand Teton National Park urging him to reconsider their intent to use aerial gunning to remove mountain goats.

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