Gordon supports Grand Teton's move away from aerial gunning of mountain goats - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Gordon supports Grand Teton’s move away from aerial gunning of mountain goats

A mountain goat and her kid in Yellowstone National Park. Although they are native in Yellowstone, mountain goats are considered an exotic, invasive species in nearby Grand Teton National Park, where officials want to kill them to protect native bighorn sheep. (National Park Service)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon supports Grand Teton National Park’s decision to move away from aerial gunning of mountain goats under their management plan for the non-native species.

Grand Teton’s new approach will “include the use of qualified volunteers to assist in ground-based lethal removal activities, and allow for the donation and distribution of mountain goat meat that results from lethal removal activities.”

“The National Park Service will develop a program to integrate qualified volunteers with its management program,” the NPS says.

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Gordon’s office says the changes “came after the governor called for a halt to the aerial gunning of goats to reduce their numbers.”

“I am delighted that Grand Teton National Park officials have chosen to take a different, more sensible approach to addressing this important wildlife management issue,” Gordon said in the release. “From the very beginning we have expressed our desire to partner with the Park to find a solution that achieves management objectives for this population and respects Wyoming values.”

Gordon’s office said that mountain goats compete with bighorn sheep in Grand Teton “for limited, high-elevation habitat and may spread disease to the important, native sheep herd.”

“In February 2020, Governor Gordon was vocal in his opposition to the original plan, which relied on aerial gunning as the primary population reduction method,” the release adds. “In communications to both acting Grand Teton Park Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail, and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, the Governor criticized the Park Service’s choice to ‘act unilaterally aerially executing mountain goats over the State of Wyoming’s Objections.’”

Gordon’s office said that the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission agreed with his position and “adamantly recommended volunteers play a role in the operation.”

“The Commission passed a resolution in Jan. 2020 condemning the use of aerial gunning to manage goats and urged Grand Teton to use skilled volunteers as the removal method,” the release adds. “In a letter that same month, Brian Nesvik, Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, made the same recommendation.”

Nesvik also expressed support for Grand Teton’s new approach.

“The use of qualified volunteers underscores how public participation is a key tenant of how wildlife is managed in Wyoming,” Nesvik said in the release. “The opportunity for the public to aid in the reduction of mountain goats — a wildlife management action — is essential to our state and reflective of the high-value we place on the wildlife resource.”

Details of the new plan are available from the National Park Service.