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As mountain goats are moved from the Olympics, zoos provide homes for goat kids without known mothers

These male mountain goat kids whose mothers could not be found will have new homes at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Woodland Park Zoo and other zoos. Photo courtesy of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.

As state and federal agencies move non-native mountain goats from Olympic National Park to the northern Cascade Mountains, Woodland Park Zoo is partnering with Northwest Trek and Oregon Zoo to provide permanent homes to goat kids without known mothers.

“Our plan is to translocate nanny-kid pairs when possible,” said Rich Harris, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife statewide mountain goat manager. “But when young goats cannot be paired up with their mothers, experience from other mountain goat translocation projects is that their survival rates are low.”

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park veterinarian Dr. Allison Case joined a team of state and federal veterinarians at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park this week to examine the mountain goats, conduct physical exams and provide preventative and supportive care before their translocation.

Case and Northwest Trek veterinary technician Sara Dunleavy set up a temporary clinic to focus on the goat kids. Working swiftly, they examined each one, recorded its weight, determined its gender, placed a microchip and ear tag, collected blood, took cultures and nasal swabs to check for disease, and administered vaccines and antibiotics.

“Mountain goats translocated at a young age are more likely to survive in the care of humans than in the wild,” Case said. “We’re delighted to provide goat kids with great homes at Northwest Trek, Woodland Park Zoo and other zoos.”

Oregon Zoo staff are coordinating placement at zoos for additional goat kids. Our animal experts are teaming up to assure a smooth transport and relocation for the kids.

“We’re pleased to participate in this regional effort in cooperation with our colleagues in Washington and state and federal agencies,” said Amy Cutting, animal curator at Oregon Zoo. “We are all coming together in the name of conservation.”

State and federal officials were pleased when regional zoos stepped up to help, offering homes for young goats and sharing their animal-care expertise, Harris said. “We’ve partnered with Northwest Trek, Woodland Park Zoo and Oregon Zoo on many conservation projects, from Oregon spotted frog and Western pond turtle reintroduction to bat and fisher monitoring, so it was a natural to team up again.” 

“As part of our commitment to saving wildlife, including species recovery in the Pacific Northwest, we are dedicated to ensuring exemplary animal welfare and to providing a home for young goats to ensure their chances of survivability,” said Dr. Jennifer Pramuk, an animal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

Photo courtesy of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.

By late Thursday, four male kids without identifiable mothers had been taken to Northwest Trek. Zoo officials have not determined where these particular goat kids will live long-term. Northwest Trek can provide a permanent home for up to five goat kids; Woodland Park Zoo can care for up to two.

This effort to translocate mountain goats from the Olympic Peninsula is a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS), the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) to re-establish and assist in connecting depleted populations of mountain goats in the Washington Cascades. Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics in the 1920s.

Area tribes lending support to the translocation plan in the Cascades include the Lummi, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip, and Upper Skagit. This month’s two-week effort to move mountain goats to native habitat in the northern Cascades is the first translocation operation. Additional efforts are planned next year.