Mountain Goat Population Rising In Olympic National Park

Feb 10, 2012

There are more mountain goats in Olympic National Park than there have been for the past 20 years. That’s according to a new report released today by the US Geological Survey. Ashley Ahearn reports.

The USGS researchers surveyed the high peaks of Olympic National Park by helicopter over several days, counting mountain goats. Kurt Jenkins is one of the USGS biologists who did the goat tallies.

Jenkins: “Most of the time they’re found out on the steep crags and as we come around the corner we can see them pretty easily. Sometimes they’ll try to move under some dense trees nearby so oftentimes we just see white movement.”

And the total? There are now about 344 mountain goats in the park. That’s about 40% more than there were in 2004 – when the last survey was done.

Mountain goats are not native to the Olympics. They were introduced in the 1920s for hunting and by the 1980s there were more than 1000.

Park officials brought that number down by relocating some of the goats to other mountain ranges.

It’s just in the last decade that the mountain goat population has begun to rise again.

A hiker was killed in Olympic National Park in 2010 but a park spokeswoman said the recent rise in goat population is not cause for concern.

The park is applying for funding to do an environmental analysis of the goats and how they should be managed.

But as of right now, the park has not set a maximum number of goats that should be in Olympic National Park.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network