Grand Teton National Park says operation to remove non-native mountain goats a success
According to the Grand Teton National Park, the native bighorn sheep herd in Teton Range that have been there for thousands of years are now at risk of local extinction.
Jeremy Barnum, the park's chief of staff, said reducing the invasive population helps the National Park Service protect resources for future generations.
"But for a number of reasons, it's now a small, isolated herd that's at risk of local extinction," said Barnum. "And one of those threats to the native bighorn sheep herd is non native mountain goats ."
The park estimates the bighorn sheep population is around 120 and the invasive mountain goats compete for territory and carry diseases that are lethal to the native bighorn.
Three years ago, the park started using helicopters and qualified volunteer hunters to locate and remove the goats. Just last week, the park finished it's last aerial gunning operation killing 58 goats. Barnum said the operation has overall been a success.
"Because there are so few non native mountain goats now in the Teton Range that really removes the risk of disease and territorial concerns with the bighorn sheep," he said.
The park believes there are more goats but not enough to compete with the native sheep. Barnum said the park is talking to backcountry skiers who recreate in the sheep's habitat to continue preservation of native animal habitats.