LETTER: Killing mountain goats would be unfair in Olympic National Park

Unfair suffering to goats

The Olympic National Park’s preferred management plan for mountain goats calls for what constitutes a militarization of wilderness.

Helicopters carrying gunmen will shoot and kill from the air all the goats in the Olympic National Forest and park, except for a marginal number transported elsewhere.

One pretext for this plan is that the mountain goats are now — after so many years — decried as aggressive in the media.

A hiker was killed by a ram near Hurricane Ridge in 2010, but that ram was likely taunted or harassed by previous parties and, in fact, was hazed by park rangers prior to the incident, according to a report posted on treehugger.com.

No similar attack has ever been recounted.

I think the mountain goats have done little if any permanent damage to rare or endemic flora.

As herbivores they browse, but I don’t think the Park Service has looked at their positive effects on the soils.

Objectively, the old argument that the goats are not native remains unsettled.

The Forest Service did introduce a number of goats in 1929, but prior to that the published reports by the Press Expedition (1890); by the explorers Fannin and Grinell (1890); and by the National Geographic expedition (1896) — all confirmed mountain goats in the Olympics.

These were reports by explorers, not casual observers.

Mountain goats are magnificent animals (rams, nanny goats and kids); it’s terrible to imagine the suffering — the institutional cruelty — coming their way.

Thomas M. O’Connor,

Port Townsend