Mountain goats to be relocated throughout Utah

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jun 04, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Wildlife Board approved a plan Tuesday that will introduce Mountain Goats into more parts of Utah, but not everyone approves of the decision.

Kent Hersey is the Department of Natural Resources big game project leader, and he said they have been choosy about where they plan to send the goats.

"Places that we feel have sufficient habitat to support goats, and we can have population there that all the people of Utah can go and see and enjoy,” he said.

Hersey said their objective is to establish optimal goat populations across the state while also increasing hunting and viewing events. The proposed plan passed in all regions, but there were some who are opposed to introducing mountain goats to the La Sal Mountains near Moab.

Some residents worry the goats could cause damage to an already threatened region. Mary O’Brien, Grand Canyon Trust, lives at the base of those mountains, said the goats could cause damages.

She said : “Another problem is if you see declines in the plants or little animals... in that community, how do you know it’s due to goats? So then the response can be, 'Well it's declines, but you haven't shown that it's goats.'"

O'Brien said people may cite cattle or weather changes for such declines rather than attribute them to the newly arrived animals.

Hersey said they’ve taken their time in monitoring the goats, consulting experts and debating the concerns of those impacted by the move. He said they don’t believe the goats will cause the problems some fear they will.

"We've done a lot of habitat monitoring of the populations we currently have, and certainly feel the habitat is there, and sufficient to support a population of mountain goats without doing damage to the area," he said.

The Forest Service will closely monitor the goat populations once they are introduced.