ODFW Announces Rocky Mountain Goat Reintroduction Plan

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The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to reintroduce Rocky Mountain goats to the Columbia River Gorge with the hope of sustaining a population there for the first time in nearly 200 years.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition first reported the presence of mountain goats in journals during its return trip back up the Columbia River. While camped near the present-day Bonneville Dam, Meriwether Lewis wrote about the abundant goats found by the tribal people among the cliffs of the mountains on the Oregon side of the river. Between the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the arrival of settlers through the area in the 1840s, the goats disappeared from the gorge area and no records have been found in settlers’ journals. However, historic scientific documents between 1813 and 1820 reported the presence of goats in the area.

ODFW proposes to trap 15-20 Rocky Mountain goats from a healthy population in the Elkhorn Mountains near Baker City and release them in the Herman Creek Basin near Cascade Locks. During July 2005, goats would be baited with salt and captured using a drop net. The goats then would be transported to the release site and turned loose during daylight hours.

ODFW, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, will hold two public meetings this month to discuss the reintroduction proposal and gain public input. The reintroduction plan must be approved by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission before the transplant can occur.

The public meetings will be held 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the ODFW Screen Shop, 3561 Klindt Drive, The Dalles; and 7-9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 27, at the Mt. Hood National Forest Headquarters, 16400 Champion Way, Sandy.

ODFW made previous attempts to re-establish mountain goats in the gorge from 1969 through 1980. However, inability of male goats to survive, too few animals released and the use of multiple release sites likely led to the failed reintroductions.

More information about the meetings and the proposed release can be obtained from Keith Kohl, ODFW wildlife biologist in The Dalles, 541-296-4628, or Don VandeBergh, ODFW wildlife biologist at Sauvie Island, 503-621-3488.