JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming wildlife managers are criticizing plans by Grand Teton National Park to shoot nonnative mountain goats by helicopter.
Inclement weather has so far prevented the aerial gunning though park officials recently closed off a wide area of the Teton Range where shooting is to occur.
“Having government personnel kill mountain goats from helicopters and leaving them to rot and be wasted is unacceptable,” Wyoming Game and Fish Commission President David Rael wrote acting park Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail in a recent letter.
The commission on Monday approved a resolution opposing the plans, favoring the use of volunteers to hunt the goats on the ground. The governor-appointed commission sets official policies and procedures for wildlife management, including hunting seasons and quotas, across Wyoming.
The commission's opposition hasn't led to any change in plans for this winter, park spokeswoman Denise Germann said Thursday.
Noojibail and Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik have been discussing the goat removal program.
“We do plan to continue with the aerial, lethal removal,” Germann said. “We need to move quickly.”
Aerial gunning, she said, is the most efficient and effective way to cut down the 100-plus goat herd, which biologists worry could spread disease to native bighorn sheep.
The park's plan for eliminating the goats, released Jan. 3, also allows for ground-based contractors and rangers to shoot goats, though park officials announced aerial gunning would be the method of choice during the first winter, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.
The aerial shooting has been rescheduled for later in January or early February.
Game and Fish Commissioner Mike Schmid, of LaBarge, said he would agree to aerial gunning to kill any mountain goats remaining after a year or two of hunting on the ground.
As the go-to option, he said, it doesn’t sit well.
“I think overall it flies in the face of Wyoming values, shooting stuff and leaving it lay on the mountain,” he said.