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GOATS: Need your help

| May 1, 2020 1:00 AM

Once we’re free to travel, residents of North Idaho will begin heading east on I-90 to hike, backpack and ride horseback in the Great Burn Recommended Wilderness.

High lakes sprinkle the Great Burn. Alpine meadows adorn the ridges above them. Mountain goats live on the cliffs between the ridges and the lakes.

Illegal snowmobiling may have decimated the Blacklead mountain goat herd in the Great Burn.

In 2011, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game counted 56 mountain goats in the herd’s winter range, centered in the headwaters of the South Fork of Kelly Creek and Williams Creek northwest of Lolo Pass.

In 2017, the department counted just seven mountain goats.

Clay Hickey, Clearwater regional wildlife manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said he was concerned not only by the lack of goats in 2017, but by the amount of snowmobile tracks. Tracks covered all the ridges and cirque basins above the South Fork of Kelly Creek and Williams Creek.

“Can I say there’s a causal relationship between the reduction in numbers of goats and the amount of snowmobile travel? No,” Hickey said. “But if the goats were displaced during winter, they likely perished.”

The draft Nez Perce-Clearwater forest management plan is open for public comment until April 20: http://bit.ly/NezClearFPRComments

Please speak up for the Blacklead mountain goats!

Ask the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests to maintain the existing boundaries of the Great Burn (Hoodoo) Recommended Wilderness, as well as the existing prohibitions of motorized and mechanized recreation.

BERT LINDLER

Missoula, Mont.