SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Wildlife Board approved a plan Thursday to move mountain goats into two new mountain ranges for the sake of hunting.
The goats will be released into unknown territory, the La Sals and Dutton mountain ranges.
It was a back and forth debate Thursday that took more than three hours as local conservationists fought to change the minds of Utah’s Wildlife Board.
“My concern is that hunting is being valued above ecological integrity and protection,” said Kirk Robinson with Western Wildlife Conservancy. “There is a lot of unknowns the mountain goats have never lived in the La Sals.”
Justin Shannon, Wildlife Program Manager with Department of Natural Resources, said their intent is not to hurt the habitat.
“If we don’t have a healthy habitat we won’t have a healthy wildlife population,” Shannon said.
Most those in opposition to the plan, including the U.S. Forest Service, asked the board to postpone the plan until more research could be done on how the mountain goats would impact the fragile and drought-striking area.
The vote passed on the advice of DWR biologists and officials.
The division will start with a small number of goats in the area. They will be radio collared so biologists can monitor them.