Olympic National Park seeks input on long-range plan for mountain goats

In this July 2008 photo

PORT ANGELES — National Park Service officials, prompted in part by the 2010 death of Port Angeles resident Bob Boardman, are preparing a new environmental impact statement for long-term mountain goat management in Olympic National Park.

A Notice of Intent to prepare the environmental study was published Monday in the Federal Register, ONP Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum announced Monday.

“We are pleased to ask the public to help us develop a long-term plan for managing the population of exotic mountain goats in Olympic National Park,” Creachbaum said in a statement.

‘Alternative concepts’

“We have drafted some preliminary alternative concepts that we’d like the public to reflect and comment on during this initial scoping period.

“And, of course, we are also interested in additional alternative concepts people may have.”

The Federal Register notice said park officials were already concerned about the impact of the animals on park plant species when Boardman was gored to death Oct. 16, 2010,

by a mountain goat on Klahhane Ridge while hiking with his wife, Susan Chadd, and their friend, Pat Willits of Port Angeles.

Chadd unsuccessfully sued the federal government in Western District Court for allegedly failing to deal in a timely manner with the goat, which her lawyer, Stephen Bulzomi of Tacoma, asserted was responsible for prior aggressive behavior toward humans.

Appeal pending

Chadd appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which heard arguments in the case earlier this year, Bulzomi said Monday.

A decision is pending on the appeal, Bulzomi said.

The federal government had denied claims of more than $10 million before Chadd, her son, Jacob Haverfield and Boardman’s estate filed the federal lawsuit, which sought unspecified damages.

Boardman’s death was the first fatal animal attack in the park since it was established in 1938.

Mountain goats were introduced into the Olympic Mountains from Alaska for hunters in the 1920s.

Before Boardman’s death, signs have been posted in the park warning of aggressive behavior at times from the goats.

The park’s Mountain Goat Action Plan was updated in 2011 to address mountain goat behavior. It lists ways how hikers and other park visitors can minimize chances for dangerous encounters with the animals.

Mountain goat numbers grew to more than 1,000 in the early 1980s, dropped to 400 by 1990 after several hundred were removed to the Cascade Mountains and other areas — and were increasing by 5 percent annually by 2011, according to the Federal Register notice.

Different options

Park Service officials will consider management alternatives that include no action, capture and relocation, lethal removal, increased nuisance control and a combination of options.

“Planning and compliance is needed to address overall management of the mountain goat population within the park,” according to the Federal Register notice.

A Park Service open-house workshop on the management plan will be at the Port Angeles Public Library, 2210 S. Peabody St., from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 13.

Other open houses are scheduled for Aug. 11 in Seattle and Aug. 12 in Olympia.

For more information or to be added to the Olympic National Park Mountain Goat Management Plan mailing list, go to http://tinyurl.com/PDNgoatplan or call the park at 360-565-3004.

Comments on the plan may be submitted electronically at http://tinyurl.com/PDNgoatplan, in writing at an open-house workshop mailed to Superintendent, Olympic National Park, 600 E. Park Ave., Port Angeles, WA 98362.

Comments must be submitted no later than Sept. 19.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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