Mountain goats invaded Grand Teton National Park from Idaho, and now they’ll be killed.
More than 100 volunteers killed dozens of mountain goats in Grand Teton last fall. Starting Wednesday, they’ll kill even more, park officials said.
Park rangers say removing the goats is necessary to protect the park and the Teton Range’s herd of about 125 native bighorn sheep.
“Without immediate intervention, the mountain goat population is expected to grow and could contribute to the potential extirpation of the native bighorn sheep,” park officials said in a Tuesday news release.
More than 20 volunteers will participate in the program from Wednesday until Oct. 25, according to the National Park Service. Only people who were part of the culling last year are allowed to take part in this year’s program.
“There are significantly fewer mountain goats in the park and removal will be significantly more difficult,” park rangers said.
At the start of the program last year, there were about 100 mountain goats in the park, and volunteers killed 43 of them.
Park rangers think about 50 goats are still wandering the park.
The volunteers have undergone background checks and can’t have active warrants or major wildlife violations. They also must pass a firearm proficiency test and be at least 18 years old.
Park tourists could see volunteers wearing camouflage and carrying rifles throughout the park, and they could hear gunshots.
“No park trails or areas are anticipated to be closed during the culling program.” park rangers said. “Signs will be posted at trailheads that access the areas the volunteers will be working to create awareness for any backcountry hikers or climbers.”
After the mountain goats are killed, the meat will be donated to several organizations, including food banks and Indian Tribes. Volunteers don’t get to keep the goats.
Grand Teton National Park isn’t the only one using skilled volunteers to kill invasive animals. The Grand Canyon also sought volunteers to kill hundreds of bison over five years.
More than 45,000 people applied to kill the bison. People were then selected in a lottery. Volunteers who met the qualification criteria were then chosen for one of four five-day periods during which they will remove bison.
“This action is necessary due to the rapid growth of the bison population and the transition from the herd using state and U.S. Forest Service lands into almost exclusively residing within Grand Canyon,” National Park Service officials said on its website.