Why are mountain goats considered native in one park but not in another next door?
Last year marked a turning point for Grand Teton National Park. They were busy getting ready for their first trophy hunt inside the mountain goat park. For several years, hunters had already been allowed to hunt elk, thanks to revisions to the guidelines after the park expanded its boundaries. The park service calls this their “elk management” program. As I’ve said in the past, wildlife, including elk, managed to survive thousands of years before human bureaucrats and hunters decided they knew better.
As is often the case, this program has its share of mishaps. In 2015 a hunter was caught killing a bull elk and over the years several supposedly protected grizzly bears have been shot and killed by hunters. Presumably, park officials did not issue a punishment for this. Then, in 2019, the elk hunting program was scaled back, but it’s unclear whether hunters are complying or not.
Hunting inside a national park is supposed to be prohibited, but this is not the case with this park as there is still private land within its boundaries. To some, this would seem like the exception to a rule meant to protect both wildlife and visiting tourists. Now that people have accepted that elk should be hunted, they have moved on to other big game. Mountain goats came next to be added to the list.
According to park officials, they are permanently removing the mountain goats out of concern for their big horn sheep. They state that this is done for health issues related to a bacterial disease that goats may or may not have and which may or may not spread to sheep. According to some paleontological excavations, mountain goats were once native to the park but had disappeared. The current population is made up of descendants of goats reintroduced nearly a century ago. The estimated population in 2020 was around 100 with only half remaining until hunting begins in 2021.
Yellowstone National Park is about 60 miles away and is surrounded by three national forests that bridge the gap between the two parks. The entire Greater Yellowstone ecosystem encompasses over thirty-four thousand square miles or twenty-two million acres. The park also has around two hundred goats along with the sheep and at least for now, they are adopting a live and let live attitude. It seems odd that Grand Teton chose to have its small population culled instead of relocating it just a few miles away in a vast ecosystem larger than some countries.
One has to wonder why the park officials who are paid to guard the park and all its inhabitants are so quick to kill the goats. Aside from nearby Yellowstone Park, they could have moved them to Washington State. According to the National Park Service, this would be the same park service that oversees Grand Teton, Olympic National Park is moving its mountain goats to the Cascade Range where that population had been depleted. In 2020 Olympic also had limited hunting, but switched to aerial relocation in 2021 for the remaining population. Maybe their change of plans was due to public pressure or maybe they saw the idiocy of killing a few hundred goats instead of moving them to their current range a few hundred miles away. the.
If park officials wanted to do the right thing, they could have had hundreds of volunteers who would have made the relocation possible. Instead, they went back to the old ways from before the 1930s, when the National Park Service had a heavy hand full of lead in their wildlife policy. This is not how our public lands should be managed and, in fact, it is not the land that needs to be managed, but rather the park officials.
The hunting rush inside a national park is a very worrying trend. Park officials say this is not a “trophy” hunt because outside hunters cannot keep any part of the animal. They fail to see that the “trophy” is to hunt unique animals inside a national park. They deliberately minimize this unless they are called and there is no response. Go to any hunting site and they all boast of having caught a bison in the Grand Canyon or a mountain goat in Grand Teton. Here’s what one hunter had to say about his experience
“In my time as a hunter, I would say this is the hardest hunt I’ve ever done,” Mertaugh said. “I can say that without a doubt. It was also one of the most rewarding hunts I have done. This is from an article titled “Mountaineering with a Rifle”.
Hunting inside a national park is a trend most Americans don’t want. It’s pretty awful to see our wild horses and burros rounded up and removed from public lands to make way for non-native cattle now that we have the hunt in national parks. It’s not just the outside hunters who do the dirty work, sometimes it’s the park rangers themselves. This is the case of Mesa Verde National Park where the few wild horses that call the park home are being removed and their fate is unknown.
Worse still is the National Park Service’s treatment of the endangered Tule Elk that are endemic to this one area of California, the Point Reyes National Seashore. Although the park has some seventy thousand acres, park rangers have fenced off the elk, leaving them just over two thousand acres for food and living. Now they are all being killed to make room for non-native destructive cows. These cows will no doubt bare the park as they have done on the millions of acres of public land they now feed on for a penny a day.
More on the tragic story of the Tule Elk to come. If you want to know how bison are hunted in Grand Canyon National Park, click here https://www.realitycheckswithstacilee.com/post/national-park-service-makes-history-with-first-hunt-on-park – bison land
One really wonders how necessary it is to have that burger or steak when it causes so much death and suffering.