They live in places most humans only dream of trekking. Among the highest peaks, in the jagged crevices and rocky valleys where beauty intersects with danger, only the best trained and most fit dare to tread.Here dwell the white monarchs of the mountains-the mountain goat.
Also known as Rocky Mountain goat this beautiful, somewhat mysterious creature traverses the steepest habitat with ease.
Dedicated mountain hunters consider them a highly-respected quarry and yet they are one of the least understood animals in North America amongst the general hunting populace.
And that’s a shame since they are truly unique and are one of the greatest hunting challenges to be found anywhere.
Listen to a fascinating discussion about mountain goats via the player below as Chester Moore talks with Pete Muennich of the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance.
Pete Muennich has for many years had a deep passion for mountain goats and their pursuit and decided to turn that into a cause in 2013.
That was the year he founded the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance (RGMA) initially working on habitat projects in goat country. That has turned into a 1,000 member organization that has contributed many thousands of dollars to mountain goat conservation work.
“It started off very grassroots, and we still are, but we have grown to the point we are doing numerous projects and can fund some important conservation work and research,” he said
Muennich said RGMA’s mission is to increase and enhance the management, range, and populations of goats across both native and suitable non-native North American habitats without negatively impacting native ungulates.
“We also work to educate the public of ongoing conservation projects and petitioning for the expansion of sustainable hunting opportunities across the continent.”
In Summer 2019 RGMA volunteers went into Olympic National Park for a massive mountain goat capture a relocation project.
“This is the second summer of live goat captures orchestrated by the Park Service and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Park deems their resident goats non-native and is in the midst of removing them from the landscape. The RMGA is extensively involved in the successful live capture and relocation of some of the Park’s mountain goats.”
In his blog at goatalliance.org Muennich noted officials weighed each goat before extensive biological sampling including the taking of blood and hair samples as well as nasal swabs.
“Once the veterinarians completed their work, the goats were carefully unhobbled as we ushered them into their crates. Boxed up goats were then loaded into a refrigerated truck for the drive to their new home in the North Cascades.”
RMGA dollars will continue to be allocated to assist in the Park Service’s live capture efforts. They hope many more goats are captured live and put into other areas before federal officials engage in lethal removal.
In comparison to whitetails, turkeys or even elk, relatively few hunters pursue mountain goats.
Like sheep, there aren’t enough goat harvest opportunities available to fully fund conservation efforts through traditional license sales.
Through RMGA much good can come to a species that is currently facing some controversies as noted above and the challenges of much of the hunting world overlooking them in a world where wildlife needs all the help it can get.
RMGA is changing that and if you like to know more, read the information below or go to goatalliance.org.
RMGA Goals & Strategy
Increase the use and utility of citizen-science efforts, increase scientific rigour in volunteer-led inventory projects.
*Promote RMGA participation in volunteer support for research projects where practical
*Develop guidance documents/ protocols to inform volunteer-driven population surveys/ inventories and on-the-ground conservation efforts
*Investigate opportunities for RMGA to coordinate volunteer monitoring efforts
Support research projects on mountain goat habitats, populations, disease, and other management issues through in-kind and/or financial support.
*Leverage contacts with post-secondary institutions, investigate opportunities for in-kind or direct support for goat-related research; Highlight the need and opportunity for greater focus on goats as a species requiring additional research focus.
*Promote scholarship and professional development for students interested in mountain goat research and conservation, including facilitating student participation in the Northern Wild Sheep and Goat Council symposia, field projects and other opportunities.
Increase the availability of relevant science to support mountain goat conservation and management.
*Enhance linkages with science-focused organizations involved in mountain goat management, including the Northern Wild Sheep and Goat Council, the Wild Sheep Foundation, and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Work to enhance the interaction between the RMGA and scientists involved in goat research across state, provincial, federal jurisdictions.
Chester Moore, Jr.