Wasatch Environmental Update; Mountain Goats and Wasatch Wilderness

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Wasatch Environmental Update for June 12, 2016

By John Worlock, Member of the Board of Directors of Save Our Canyons

“Mountain Goats and Wasatch Wilderness”

 

The Utah DWR, the Division of Wildlife Resources, is asking permission to invade our precious and hard-won Wasatch Wilderness Areas with a series of helicopter landings in the next two years. They want to use those landings to study the welfare of the Mountain Goats that they have imported in the past years into the high country within the Twin Peaks, Lone Peak and Timpanogos Wilderness Areas.

One might immediately reject this idea since helicopters are explicitly forbidden in the legislation that establishes true Wilderness. But since the US Forest Service, the federal agency entrusted with protecting the quality of that wilderness, must answer the request for permission to invade, they are asking us – you, me and your neighbors – to help out with that decision. So let’s talk about it somewhat, before we say NO, categorically.

The idea is to catch, collar and study some thirty Mountain Goats during sixteen days this fall and next. The catching technique is called net-gunning in which a net is shot from an overhead helicopter which surrounds and immobilizes the animal. Once captured, the goat is tranqulized, collared, probed, measured for disease, and released as near as possible to the point of capture. Thirty goats requires exactly thirty helicopter landings within the wilderness. So that is what the Division of Wildlife Resources is asking for.

In order to understand the division’s motivation, we went to their website where we learned that the Mountain Goat population is not native but was introduced into the Wasatch some years ago. It is supported as a boon to hunters who enter a drawing for a permit, with odds 50 to 1 against them, and then pay dearly for the precious permit. However, the success rate for permit holders approaches 100 per cent. How precious are these goats to hunters? The Division of Wildlife Resources describes them as a “once in a lifetime species.”

Save Our Canyons, with its wilderness allies, is preparing a strong critique of this proposal. Our guess is that the division can devise a less invasive way to study their goats. Click HERE to read our letter to Salt Lake District Ranger Rebecca Hotze.

Please submit comment via email to comments-intermtn-wasatch-cache-saltlake@fs.fed.us or by calling the U.S Forest Service’s Tracy Allen at 801-999-2167

Click HERE to read “Helicopters in Wilderness Area? Mountain Goat Study.”

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