Mountain goats are native to Wyoming according to concrete, irrefutable scientific evidence gleaned from their fossils found in Little Box Elder Cave in the Laramie Mountains, and confirmed by an official National Parks Service document in addition to other sources.
Furthermore, several ancient Native American tools fashioned from mountain goat bones of the lower foreleg and near the hoof were found in this cave. To find bones so modified for a specific task is very rare. Not sure how they get more native than that.
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These tools are listed among items found in the cave near Casper, in the heart of Wyoming, detailed in an official National Parks Service document filed for NAGPRA to repatriate the ancient “culturally unidentifiable” human remains to the Arapaho of the Wind River Range, in 2010.
Not only that, these bones are identified as being from Oreamnos Americanus, their scientific name, translated to mean the fossils are from anatomically modern mountain goats, no different than those found in the Tetons today.
If they are still unwanted in the Tetons, instead of gunning the goats from a helicopter, why not enlist the expertise of Olympic National Park, gained through much practice, of tranquilizing them, still using the helicopters, and transporting them in those orange nets suspended under the chopper while the goats are wearing blinders, possibly to a holding pen. Then, the “valuable” goats can be trucked just across the border to release sites already scoped out by Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance in Montana, where perhaps there’s more acceptance.
If they transplant goats elsewhere, why not also seek the consultation of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, with a proven track record, of translocating bighorn sheep to other areas within Grand Teton National Park, since these wild sheep don’t really disperse well anywhere recently, it’s not a problem unique to Grand Teton, or any sort of human interference. With two or three separate populations, disease is much less of a concern and they can rest easy.
Lastly, if mountain goats are removed, an arguably more beleaguered creature will lose important prey from their menu: mountain lions.
RYAN MOLDE, Yellowstone National Park