SEATTLE — Olympic National Park’s mountain goat population has hit a 20-year peak, according to new research findings out today.
U.S. Geological Survey researchers released a report after surveying the high peaks of Olympic National Park by helicopter over several days in July. Kurt Jenkins is one of the biologists with the USGS who did the goat tallies.
“Most of the time they’re found out on the steep crags and as we come around the corner we can see them pretty easily,” he says. “Sometimes they’ll work their way into a crag in the cliffs or move under some dense trees nearby so oftentimes we just see white movement.”
There are now about 344 mountain goats in the park. That’s about 40 percent more than there were in 2004 when the last survey was done.
Mountain goats are not native to the Olympics. They were introduced in the 1920s for hunting and by the 1980s there were more than 1,000.
Park officials brought that number down by relocating some of the goats to other mountain ranges.
It’s just in the last decade that the numbers have begun to rise again.
A hiker was killed in Olympic National Park in 2010 but a park spokeswoman said the recent rise in goat population is not cause for concern.
The park is applying for funding to do an environmental analysis of the goats and how they should be managed but has not set a maximum for the amount of goats that should be in Olympic National Park.