Grand Teton National Park announced Tuesday it has given the OK to a plan to begin removing mountain goats from the Teton Range.
Mountain goats, which are not native to the range, will be removed by both lethal and non-lethal means to protect the isolated native bighorn sheep.
The park estimates that the bighorn sheep herd is at about 100 individuals. The mountain goat numbers have grown to about the same size in the last few years and compete with bighorn sheep for food resources and can be a threat by transmitting disease.
“This herd is one of the smaller and most isolated in Wyoming, and has never been extirpated or augmented,” the park said in a news release. “The Teton Range herd of native bighorn sheep is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers and visitors.”
The mountain goats migrated into the Teton Range from the nearby Snake River Range after they were transplanted there to provide hunting opportunities.
Park officials modified the final mountain goat removal plan to allow qualified volunteers to help in hunting the mountain goats. The plan calls for relocating captured mountain goats to other areas and donating and distributing mountain goat meat.
Park officials plan to start the removal of mountain goats this winter and hope to knock down numbers before to population becomes unmanageable.
“Without swift and active management, the mountain goat population is expected to continue to grow and expand its distribution within the park,” the park said. “The mountain goat population is currently at a size where complete removal is achievable in a short time, however, the growth rate of this population suggest that complete removal in the near future may become unattainable after a period of about three years.”