Pulling the trigger

Posted by Ken Campbell July 11, 2008 0 Comment 489 views

The goats in Olympic National Park are not native. They were introduced during the 1920’s… 12 of them. That number grew until the impact they were having on the natural flora was undeniable. Eradication and removal has always been talked about, periodically attempted and has met with various levels of success.

I am not sure how I feel about this. I mean, I know they are destructive, but you could say that about a lot of things, right?

I am not sure of the present status of these animals. The last I remember, the hunt was on. The goats may have been trapped at some places, but in many they were scheduled to be shot on sight. It was war, sort of. As close to war as sane folk like to get. One side has weapons and one side doesn’t, and it’s important to be on the right side. Us humans will always win, yes?

I remember one summer when I hiked up to Royal Basin, camped at the lake and did climbs on Mount Deception and Mount Johnson. Goats were everywhere then… there must have been a dozen or more on the valley floor and others on the high escarments above. Tufts of wool were snagged on the low-lying branches, and the bushes along the trail seemed to be made of wool, in some places. I remember climbing up from the lake to the cirque one morning, on a steep section where I had to pull my way up from one boulder to another, coming across an adult male goat, black horns curving like scimitars above the white coat, the red eyes. He snorted and turned, and with a few graceful bounds, he was gone, lost from sight. I think I saw him later, but the distance was far and details hard to know for sure.

I will make it a point to inquire about the welfare of the Olympic mountain goat. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one.

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