CHEYENNE — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon expressed his support for Grand Teton National Park’s newly-released plan to manage non-native mountain goats within park boundaries by allowing qualified volunteers to harvest the animals. The updated plan 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,” Governor Gordon said. “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.”
Mountain goats in the park compete with bighorn sheep 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. 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.”
The Governor’s position was supported by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, who 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. In a letter that same month, Brian Nesvik, Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, made the same recommendation.
Nesvik and the Governor are grateful to see the plan reworked and the collaboration with the State of Wyoming to include involvement from the public, and consider it a win for the state.
“The use of qualified volunteers underscores how public participation is a key tenant of how wildlife is managed in Wyoming. 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,” Nesvik said.
Grand Teton Park will manage the qualified volunteer program, and the methods and approach were developed in collaboration with Game and Fish. Mountain goat meat harvested by qualified volunteers will be utilized to the greatest extent possible by the qualified volunteer who took the mountain goat or by donating the meat to organizations that work to address hunger. Full details are available on the Grand Teton National Park website.