A tourist at Death Valley spotted something within the park that shouldn’t be there: a mysterious goat.
The visitor reported seeing a domestic goat in a canyon near Stovepipe Wells within the park. The goat could be bad for native bighorn sheep and the park’s ecosystem, rangers said Wednesday on Facebook.
“Although it may make for a seemingly fun surprise to see a goat in Death Valley, domestic goats are a known vector of a respiratory disease that is fatal to bighorn sheep,” park rangers said.
In 2013, a feral goat was released in the Mojave Preserve and may have triggered many sheep to die off, officials said. To keep that from happening at Death Valley, wildlife officials are on the hunt for the goat.
“Death Valley National Park wildlife managers in consultation with California Department of Fish and Wildlife are now working to capture and remove the goat before it can potentially spread any disease to the native species,” park officials said.
Death Valley typically gets less than 2 inches of rain each year, and the temperature can rise above 120 degrees. That weather makes the hot spot a great home bighorn sheep, kangaroo rats and desert tortoises. Jackrabbits and roadrunners also roam the park.
There are thousands of bighorn sheep living in California, and the goat’s presence within Death Valley could become a threat.
It’s possible the goat was a domestic animal let loose within or near the park.
“Turning a domestic animal loose in a national park can be devastating to local wildlife populations,” park officials said. “When you are fortunate enough to see animals in Death Valley, feel free to share the experience with park rangers as it helps us monitor wildlife populations and can help identify anything out of the ordinary.”