CASPER, Wyo. — The National Park Service began an operation to remove mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park in early January.
That operation involves aerial gunners shooting the goats in an effort the cull the mountain goat population in order to mitigate their potential to spread disease to bighorn sheep populations.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission is opposed to the aerial gunning efforts.
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“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 Jan. 15 meeting,” Game and Fish says.
“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 commission passed a resolution calling for the aerial gunning operations to cease in favor of using skilled volunteers to shoot the goats on the ground. The commission passed the resolution unanimously.
“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.
Another commissioner pointed out that gunning the goats from the air may leave their carcasses unharvested.
“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.
Game and Fish say that Nesvik has addressed a letter to Grand Teton National Park’s acting superintendent asking that the park reconsider their plans.