Removing several mountain goats that have developed a strong appetite for human sweat and urine has to be one of the most daunting challenges faced by the Olympic National Park.

Since they became a problem to effective actualization of the activities in the park, up to 75 mountain goats, have been extradited as part of the larger plan to move the species to a location close to their natural habitat.

NPR revealed how the non-native goats have been disrupting the ecosystem and assaulting visitors due to their addiction to salt.

While their natural environment is filled with enough salt for them to lick, living in an environment with no salt to lick gives them up to enjoy the next best thing close to salt – Humans.

Park officials revealed that the non-native goats are so drawn and addicted to salt in human sweat and urine that they aggressively charge at visitors and hikers without considering the effect on the vegetation.

The officials also recounted how a 63-year-old walker bled to death after being gored by one of the male mountain goats.

The goat had followed the walker for a mile before going violent.

Plans For Relocation

The death of this man caused the National Park Service, the Washington Department of Fish and the National Forest Service to develop a 3-5-year scheme to eliminate it.

The officials also told the walkers to avoid urinating along the trails to avoid turning the trail to a salt licking site for the aggressive goats.

According to the Seattle Times, the non-native goats first arrived in the 1920s when the area had not become a national park.

A hunting group from Alaska and British Columbia had changed the natural habitat of the goats by bringing a dozen of them to the new habitat.

Since their arrival, they have multiplied into a little below 700.

As they were getting out of control, the team planned to capture about half of the total population and safely transport them to the North Cascade Mountains.

The team hoped that moving the goats to their natural habitats will reduce their population and make things easier for the park officials.

In a statement, US Forest Service Wildlife Biologist, Jesse Plumage said:

Mountain goats relocation will allow these animals to reoccupy historical range areas in the cascades and increase population visibility.”

In an interview with NPR, Ruth Milner, who studied mountain goats at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for decades, noted the decision to move the goats a “win-win.”

Experts revealed that changing the location of the surging goat tribe would provide a more hospitable and comfortable environment where they can roam free without being victims of interlopers.

The NPS maintained their stance towards relocating non-native goats as human urine was beginning to affect them.

The NPS report stated:

“Mountain goats can be a nuisance along trails and around wilderness campsites where they persistently seek salt and minerals from human urine, packs, and sweat on clothing. They often paw and dig areas on the ground where hikers have urinated or disposed of cooking wastewater.”

While recounting the 2010 incident, the NPS stated the impossibility of measuring up the general safety concerns of visitors to the aggressive non-native goats.

According to the report:

“The nature of mountain goat-human interactions can vary widely, such as humans observing mountain goats from several hundred meters away across a ridge, mountain goats approaching visitors, hazing events and hazardous interactions such as the October 2010 fatality.”

Amidst this, a professor in the environmental sciences department at Western Washington University, David Wallin, warns that the plan is not the end but the means to an end.

So rather than work on extraditing half the population, it is better to remove all to prevent multiplication.

Is The Relocation To The Advantage Of Both The Mountain Goats And The National Park?

He told NPR:

“This translocation effort isn’t going to solve the problem. But we figure we can move 300 to 400 goats over, and that’s a 10percent bump in the population (in the North Cascades). Our hope is that we will jump-start the recovery.”

Seattle times revealed the process of extradition to be difficult and intensive.

The process involves sedating the mountain goats with drugs, airlifting them, placing them in the trucks, and transporting them to a number of tents for testing.

Afterward, GPS tracking collars are placed on them and are loaded to a truck driven to North Cascades.

In all, they travel by air and by road before reaching their natural habitat.

Authorities stated that it would have been easy to control the population of the mountain goats without if there was an approved contraceptive for them.

But since such contraceptive isn’t available, they would have to transfer the mountain goats.

In a discussion about the transfer of the mountain goats, the park officials revealed that it wasn’t the first time they have attempted to solve the problem in the park.

NPR revealed that several mountain goats were also captured in the 1980s.

Since the extradition of the goats to their natural habitat, the National park has experienced an improvement in activities and modes of operation.

A wildlife biologist at the park, Patti Happe told NPR:

“We saw the ecosystem bounce back. When you get a group of goats hanging out in an area, they move around and trample the soil and fragile vegetation. Goats have this habit that they like to dust bathe. They form these wallows and create big patches of exposed soil, and with erosion, they get bigger and bigger.”

Since the extradition began, over 75 mountain goats have been flown out of the Olympic National Park to their natural habitat.

While the extradition has proved to be effective over time, the inability to remove all mountain goats at a time has caused the population to increase over the years.

Officials have stated that if the difficulty in extraditing more mountain goats persists, the team may be left with the only available choice, which is shooting.

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