Mountain Goats in the Bear River Range

We oppose introduction of non-native mountain goats in the Bear River Range. The mountain goats will damage rare
indigenous plants including the Bear River Range Beardtongue, Penstemon compactus.

Mountain Goats in the Bear River Range: Mountain Goats on the Kenai Peninsula Courtesy US National Park Service
Mountain Goats on the Kenai Peninsula
Courtesy US National Park Service
Several organizations have opposed the introduction of mountain goats to the Bear River mountain range.
The biggest concern, although not the only one, is the damage the goats may make upon the 13 plant species unique to Logan Canyon and the range.

John Carter, Ecologist with the Yellowstone to Uintas Connection, gives good background in his 14 September email

“The Forest Service policy recognizes the role of the States to manage wildlife and fish populations within their jurisdictions and the responsibility of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage fish and wildlife resources within its authority (Forest Service Manual 2610). However, at this time, the Forest Service does not support the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ proposed introduction of mountain goats on, or adjacent to, Forest Service administered lands. We are concerned about potential effects mountain goats may have on the Logan Canyon Botanical Special Interest Area and the Mount Naomi Wilderness Area.”
FRANK R. BEUM, Acting Regional Forester, Intermountain Region

Success, for now, is shown in the attached letter to Allison Jones of the Western Wildlife Conservancy from Mary Farnsworth and Frank Beum of the UDSA Forest Service dated October 20, 2020. (See attachment to letter.) However, we fear the DWR could introduce the goats without notice, flaunting the Wilderness Act and Forest Service oposition. We are seeking a more permanent resolution stating that Utah DWR will not introduce Rocky Mountain Goats in the Bear River Range and they will remove the goats that have migrated from other locations.

In the News:

“Marc Coles-Ritchie worries the goats are a threat to the mountains’ ecosystem.

“The mountain goats are not native to this landscape,” said Coles-Ritchie, the Utah public lands manager for the non-profit group Grand Canyon Trust.

“Mountain goats, they eat the vegetation in these alpine areas of the La Sal Mountains.

“They dig up the plants and then they dig into the soil, creating places where they can lay.”

Carlisle, Nate, FOX 13 Investigates: Mountain goats may be killing plants found only in Utah, KSTU Fox 13, Scripps Media, Inc, Sep 29, 2021, https://www.fox13now.com/news/fox-13-investigates/fox-13-investigates-mountain-goats-may-be-killing-plants-found-only-in-utah

Carlisle, Nate, FOX 13 Investigates: Mountain goats may be killing plants found only in Utah, KSTU Fox 13, Scripps Media, Inc, Sep 29, 2021, https://www.fox13now.com/news/fox-13-investigates/fox-13-investigates-mountain-goats-may-be-killing-plants-found-only-in-utah

Overview:
McCollum, Charles, Cache mountain goat transplant planned for fall; not everyone happy about it, Jul 17, 2020, https://www.hjnews.com/news/local/cache-mountain-goat-transplant-planned-for-fall-not-everyone-happy-about-it/article_5c5c3b9c-03a9-5add-9bb7-59acba4cfa22.html
Greene, Jack, Soapbox: Locals can still halt harmful mountain goat introduction, July 24, 2020, https://www.hjnews.com/opinion/columns/soapbox-locals-can-still-halt-harmful-mountain-goat-introduction/article_e85f7536-5201-55d7-b766-f089eb57d7ed.html

Maffly, Brian, Utah looks to expand mountain goat range, but at what cost to alpine landscapes?, The Salt Lake Tribune, August 23, 2020, https://www.sltrib.com/news/environment/2020/08/23/utah-looks-expand/

Utah Mountain Goat Statewide Management Plan, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Department of Natural Resources, https://wildlife.utah.gov/pdf/bg/mtn_goat_plan.pdf
Utah Mountain Goat Management Plan-Cache, Ogden, East Canyon, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Department of Natural Resources, August 2019, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/dwr.mountain_goat_cache_ogden_east_canyon.pdf
O’Brien, Mary & Coles Ritcie, Marc, Systematic Degradation of Mount Peale Research Natural Area by Non-Native Mountain Goats, May 14, 2020, https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/damage-mount-peale-research-natural-area-non-native-mountain-goats
Questions regarding proposed introduction of Mountain Goats into the Logan Ranger District, Cache National Forest https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Questions-for-FS-DNR-USFWS-2020-08-03-1.pdf
Mountain Goat Sightings in the Bear River Mountain Range, Courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Management, Shared by Mountain Goat Biologist Jace Taylor, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Bear-River-Range-Mtn-Goat-Documentation-8-18-2020.pdf

Partners:
Yellowstone to Uintas Connection
Grand Canyon Trust
Utah Native Plant Society
Western Wildlife Conservancy
Cache Valley Chapter, Citizens’ Climate Lobby
Student Organization for Society and Natural Resources, Utah State University

Background Documents:
Memorandum of Understanding Between The State of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources And The USDA, Forest Service Intermountain Region, FS Agreement Number 13-MU-11046000-024, June 11, 2013, https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/utah-dwr-mou-2013.pdf

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah, Minimum Requirements Analysis – 11.28.2017, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goat disease study, Lone Peak, Twin Peaks, and Mount Timpanogos Wildernesses, https://www.fs.usda.gov/nfs/11558/www/nepa/104250_FSPLT3_4109661.pdf

What are these endemic plants?
Abstract:
Two novelties from the Bear River Range of the northern Wasatch Mountains of Utah and Idaho are Musineon naomiensis L. M. Shultz & F. J. Smith, sp. nov. (Apiaceae) and Orthocarpus holmgreniorum (T.I. Chuang & Heckard) L. M. Shultz & F. J. Smith, comb. et. stat. nov. (Orobanchaceae). With these additions, the Bear River Range harbors 13 endemic plant species, most of which are edaphically restricted to dolomitic rocks in or near Logan Canyon. Most of the 260+ species of the 2600+ native species on the Utah state list of rare plants are in the warm-desert portion of the state. The montane endemics enumerated here demonstrate the unique habitats of the mountains of northern Utah and distinguish the Bear River Range as a hotspot of rarity.
 
Leila M. Shultz, Frank J. Smith “Novelties in Musineon (Apiaceae) and Orthocarpus (Orobanchaceae) in the Northern Wasatch Mountains of Utah and Idaho,” Madroño, 65(1), 60-64, (1 January 2018) https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/madr-65-01-09_60..64-3.pdf (Provided by the author.)
% Brit Press, https://journals.brit.org/jbrit/article/view/821

Leila M. Shultz, Frank J. Smith “Novelties in Musineon (Apiaceae) and Orthocarpus (Orobanchaceae) in the Northern Wasatch Mountains of Utah and Idaho,” Madroño, 65(1), 60-64, (1 January 2018) https://bridgerlandaudubon.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/madr-65-01-09_60..64-3.pdf (Provided by the author.)
% Brit Press, https://journals.brit.org/jbrit/article/view/821

Definition of Wilderness
Wilderness Act-1964, Section 2:
(c) A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence,
without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.
The Wilderness Act, USDA Forest Service, https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd645666.pdf

The Wilderness Act-1964,
The Wilderness Act, University of Montana, https://winapps.umt.edu/winapps/media2/wilderness/NWPS/documents/publiclaws/The_Wilderness_Act.pdf
The Wilderness Act, U.S. Government Publishing Office: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/STATUTE-78/pdf/STATUTE-78-Pg890.pdf
The Wilderness Act, USDA Forest Service, https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd645666.pdf
The Wilderness Act, Wilderness Connect, https://wilderness.net/learn-about-wilderness/key-laws/wilderness-act/default.php

“But even federally protected wilderness is vulnerable to threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation from nearby development, the invasion of non-native plant and animal species, and climate change. Refuge System experts monitor wilderness areas for threats to their character.
[Last Paragraph: Wilderness, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, https://www.fws.gov/refuges/about/public-lands-waters/wilderness/

Rocky Mountain Goats are not Native
to a Majority of the Rockies

“The mountain goat is native to mountainous regions of northwestern North America from about 44 °N latitude to 63 °N latitude [26]. Its native range occurs from southeastern Alaska south to the Columbia River in Washington; east into Idaho and western Montana; and north to southern Yukon [34,110]. Throughout the 1900s, mountain goats were introduced in some areas outside of their known historical range in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada [24,34,89,110].”
Nonnative Species, Rocky Mountain National Park, US National Parks Service, https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/animals/mammal/oram/all.html

Oreamnos americanus, Mountain Goat Distribution, NatureServe Explorer, https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104036/Oreamnos_americanus

Map-Mountain Goat Native Range, Courtesy & © Grand Canyon Trust
Map-Mountain Goat Native Range, Courtesy & © Grand Canyon Trust
“Mountain goats were introduced to the Mt. Evans, Colorado area by Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife (previously Colorado Division of Wildlife), and individuals occasionally make their way north to the park[Rocky Mountain National Park]. Because these animals carry diseases that can infect bighorn sheep, and also compete with the native sheep for food, the park has taken active measures to remove goats that enter the park. The goats are usually captured and taken back to Mount Evans. However, park policy permits agency shooting of goats if they cannot be trapped.”
Nonnative Species, Rocky Mountain National Park, US National Parks Service, https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/nature/nonnativespecies.htm

Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus), Natural History Museum of Utah. https://nhmu.utah.edu/sites/default/files/attachments/Mountain%20Goat.pdf

“The Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Utah Division of Wildlife introduced mountain goats to improve hunting opportunities and to provide a revenue stream from hunting licenses ($300 for residents, $2,200 for out of state). But it falls upon other agencies, such as the Forest Service, to manage plant communities. It is clear, from the introduction to the La Sal Mountains, that these agencies do not have their goals aligned. We need to manage the alpine areas in Colorado not solely for hunters, but also to maintain native plant and animal communities, to really protect wilderness areas.”

Mitton, Jeff, Introduced mountain goats have colonized much of the land above the trees, Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine, University of Colorado Boulder, Dec. 6, 2019, https://www.colorado.edu/asmagazine/2019/12/06/introduced-mountain-goats-have-colonized-much-land-above-trees

Gross, John E., Kneeland, Mary C., Swift, David M., Wunder, Bruce A., Scientific Assessment of the Potential Effects of Mountain Goats on the Ecosystems of Rocky Mountain National Park, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Rocky Mountain National Park, National Park Service, Accessed July 19, 2021, https://conps.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Mountain-Goat-Impacts-RMNP.pdf

Oreamnos americanus, Fire Effects Information System (FEIS), USDA Forest Service, Accessed July 19, 2021, https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/animals/mammal/oram/all.html

Langlois, Krista, Non-native goats in Utah’s La Sal Mountains a.k.a Unwelcome ungulates, High Country News, Dec. 22, 2014, Accessed July 19, 2021, https://www.hcn.org/issues/46.22/non-native-goats-in-utahs-la-sal-mountains

Watts, Dom, Alaskan wild sheep and goats threatened by Movi, Refuge Notebook, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Accessed July 19, 2021, https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_7/NWRS/Zone_2/Kenai/Sections/What_We_Do/In_The_Community/Refuge_Notebooks/2017_Articles/Refuge_Notebook_v19_n49.pdf

Watts, Dom, A brief history of mountain goat population management on the Kenai Peninsula, Refuge Notebook Vol. 19, No. 12, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Accessed July 19, 2021, https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_7/NWRS/Zone_2/Kenai/Sections/What_We_Do/In_The_Community/Refuge_Notebooks/2017_Articles/Refuge_Notebook_v19_n12.pdf

Gross, J., M. Kneel and, D. Reed, R. Reich. 2002. GIS-Based Habitat Models for Mountain Goats. Journal of Mammalogy, 83(1):218-228, Accessed July 19, 2021, https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/article/83/1/218/2372860

“See see Figure 3 of Rideout and Hoffman. This map suggests a native distribution as far south as central Idaho and throughout western Montana during modern times. The black polygons indicate introduced populations in Colorado and South Dakota. Note, that this paper was published in 1975, and therefore does not include populations in Nevada and Utah – David Stoner, Utah State University, Dept. of Wildland Resources
Rideout, C., R. Hoffman. 1975. Oreamnos americanus. Mammalian Species, 63: 1-6., Accessed July 19, 2021, https://academic.oup.com/mspecies/article/doi/10.2307/3504030/2600463

Ellis, E.; B. Guilliams; W. Mowbray; A. Patton and S. Gloss 2007. Oreamnos americanus (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 19, 2021, https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Oreamnos_americanus/

“Oreamnos harringtoni remains are relatively uncommon in the fossil record. Pleistocene-age skeletal remains from Muskox Cave, Guadalupe Mountains, New Mexico, are referred to O. harringtoni. Qualitative and quantitative characters of recovered skeletal elements fit previous descriptions for Harrington’s extinct mountain goat. This specimen extends the known range of the species eastward”

Jass, Christopher, Mead, Jim, Logan, Lloyd, (2000). Harrington’s extinct mountain goat (Oreamnos harringtoni Stock 1936) from Muskox Cave, New Mexico. Texas Journal of Science. 52. 121-132. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Christopher-Jass/publication/229190849_Harrington’s_extinct_mountain_goat…Oreamnos_harringtoni_Stock_1936_from_Muskox_Cave_New_Mexico…from-Muskox-Cave-New-Mexico.pdf

Note: The Jass et al. paper (above) has more discussion on the distribution of fossil remains of mountain goats on pp 128-130. Jass provides several citations indicating evidence of Harrington’s mountain goat (Oreamnos harrigtoni) as far south as New Mexico during the Pleistocene, with references to its presence in the Great Basin and Colorado plateau. Evidently, the Harrington’s goat was generally smaller than the modern goat, but these measures are based on fairly limited fossil evidence. – David Stoner, Utah State University, Dept. of Wildland Resources

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