Goats in the crosshairs


Managers at Olympic National Park propose shooting mountain goats to save the stuff they graze, wallow and walk on - native plants. A recent draft environmental impact statement recommends killing the park's 300 non-native goats rather than transferring them outside the park, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Park managers say efforts to trap and remove the goats in the 1980s were dangerous to employees, traumatic for the goats and too costly at $1,000 per animal. The impact statement also rules out sterilization because it wouldn't prevent further damage to the ecosystem during the remainder of the goats' lives. Goats threaten 33 rare or unique plants particular to the peninsula, including one endangered species candidate, the Olympic Mountains milk vetch, according to the draft. Park Service officials anticipate public outrage over killing an animal that many consider both beautiful and symbolic of primitive America. "I have no doubt, if they try to fulfill their commitment to kill the mountain goats, we will challenge them in federal court," says Cathy Sue Anunsen of The Fund for Animals. She says the Park Service can't prove mountain goats harm native plants. Wildlife managers have faced similar uproars over killing burros in the Grand Canyon, feral pigs in Hawaii and sea lions gorging on salmon in Seattle. The comment period on the EIS closes July 17. To obtain a copy, write to Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, WA 98362 or call 360/452-0321.