Next round of goats to be airlifted into Cascades Monday

Next round of goats to be airlifted into Cascades Monday

For the first time since late 2018, the National Park Service will once again be airlifting goats into the northern Cascade Mountains.

“Mountain goat relocation will allow these animals to reoccupy historical range areas in the Cascades and increase population viability,” USFS Wildlife Biologist Jesse Plumage said in a news release.

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It starts on July 8, when a collection of state and federal agencies will team up over two weeks to transport hundreds of goats out of Olympic National Park.

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First, a helicopter tracks down one of the goats. Someone comes within about 35 feet of the animal, and then they either shoot a net over the top of it, or hit it with a dart laced with carfentanil, an opioid the DEA classifies as "10,000 more potent than morphine." From there, a "mugger" comes down to grab the goat, removes it from the net, and then sticks it in a "specialized bag."

The hope is to move the non-native species out of a potentially problematic area, where they compete with other wildlife, and at times, cause environmental damage. This way, the goats get a new, more natural habitat, and are less likely to encounter hikers in more remote areas of the Cascades.

“The north Cascades has natural salt licks, while the Olympic Peninsula has virtually none,” said WDFW wildlife manager Rich Harris. “We’d expect salt hunger to be lower in goats that have natural sources available to them.”

The first round of airlifts took place last September, when 115 goats were transported. After the whole process is said and done, roughly 700 total goats will have been relocated.