Wildlife Managers Transported Mountain Goats To The Cascade Mountains In Washington To Boost Population Numbers, But Many Are Mysteriously Dying

Maria - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual goat

Over the course of three summers, wildlife managers worked to transport mountain goats in Washington State’s Olympic National Park to the Cascades, a vast mountain range that extends through much of western North America.

The goats were once regularly found in the Cascades, and researchers aimed to boost the goat population there. However, most of the goats that were relocated are now dead.

Between 2018 and 2020, researchers relocated 325 goats by blindfolding and airlifting them into the Cascades.

Only a small portion of them have survived, but since not all the goats were tracked, it’s difficult to come up with an exact number of the ones that are still alive.

According to a study led by a now-retired wildlife biologist named Rich Harris, the likelihood of a translocated goat living year after year was just 56 percent. By the end of 2022, 165 out of a sample of 217 translocated goats had died.

The species used to be common in the Cascades, which was their natural habitat. But after decades of being overhunted, their numbers have experienced a sharp decline.

The relocation project’s goal was to help encourage population growth in the Cascades while removing the mountain goats from their non-native habitat of the Olympic Mountains, where they harmed plants in the region.

The results of the relocation efforts have revealed the extent to which climate change is impacting the landscape in the West. It was expected that some of the mountain goats would die during the first winter because they weren’t acclimated to the region yet.

But, the effects of climate change led to worsened mountain goat survival rates. Even the native goats were struggling to survive.

Maria – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual goat

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