Mountain goat culling in Grand Teton is back on this fall

Today, August 6th, the National Park Service announced they are accepting qualified volunteers to help cull non-native mountain goats in Grand Teton National Park. This is part of their management plan aimed to conserve a native and vulnerable population of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Teton Range.    

Earlier this year, outrage ensued following the announcement of mountain goat culling by aerial gunning in Grand Teton National Park, which was eventually stopped by the Secretary of Interior in February.

The Teton Range is home to a small herd of native bighorn sheep currently estimated at approximately 100 animals. As one of the smaller and most isolated herds in Wyoming, which has never been extirpated or augmented, it is of high conservation value to the park, adjacent land and wildlife managers, and visitors. The National Park Service has a responsibility to protect native species and reduce the potential for local extinction of a native species within the park.   

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Mountain goats are not native to Grand Teton National Park. They were introduced into the Snake River Range in Idaho and over the years, their population expanded and reached the Teton Range. Mountain goats can carry bacterial diseases that are lethal to bighorn sheep. The Teton Range bighorn sheep population has been relatively isolated and are therefore likely ‘naïve’ to these diseases.

The growth rate of the non-native mountain goat population suggests that complete removal in the future may become unattainable unless immediate action is taken. 


Volunteer info

The qualified volunteer program will take place September 14th – November 13th, 2020, weather permitting.

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There will be eight operational periods and those interested must apply as a team with a minimum of two individuals and a maximum of six individuals per team.    

In order to safely and successfully participate in this program, volunteers must have a high level of physical fitness as they may need to hike up to 20 miles per day at altitude in extremely rough mountainous terrain under a variety of weather conditions.

All volunteers will receive training in bear spray deployment, backcountry tracking, radio protocols, species identification, and potentially, disease sample collection. Applicants must be United States citizens and at least 18 years of age. Volunteers may not have active warrants, past wildlife violations, or violations associated with Grand Teton National Park, and must pass a mandatory firearm proficiency evaluation.

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Qualified volunteers interested in participating in the program may learn more and apply online by clicking here.

The park will stop accepting applications once 240 applications have been received.  

Successful applicants will be randomly selected for each operational period.

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There are key differences between a culling program in a national park and traditional recreational hunting.

  • Culling in a national park is done exclusively for conservation and stewardship purposes, while hunting is primarily for recreation or procuring food.
  • Culling in a national park is conducted under controlled circumstances with the supervision of National Park Service personnel, while hunting is performed at the hunter’s discretion, subject to applicable licensing and laws.
  • Volunteers may not keep a trophy when participating in a culling program in a national park. The meat may be donated or distributed to Indian Tribes, qualified volunteers, food banks, and other organizations that work to address hunger, in accordance with applicable health guidelines.
  • Culling in a national park does not generate revenue and does not include fair chase.
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