Mountain goat study halted by animal deaths

Print Article

A mountain goat study in Glacier National Park has been suspended following the deaths of two goats after they were shot with tranquilizer darts.

The University of Montana study, aimed at exploring the effects of climate change on mountain goats, got under way this month with preliminary field work in the Many Glacier Valley.

A 6-year-old male mountain goat died Tuesday after it was darted in the Ptarmigan Lake Trail area near Mount Altyn by Dr. Robert Moore, a Wildlife Conservation Society veterinarian.

Moore administered a tranquilizer antidote and provided support breathing for about 45 minutes, according to Dr. Joel Berger, a professor of wildlife conservation at the UM Division of Biological Sciences.

The cause of death later was determined to be respiratory arrest because the tranquilizer dart punctured the goat’s ribcage.

After meeting with park managers on Wednesday, researchers were allowed to resume their field work.

However, a second male goat died after it was darted on Thursday. Its cause of death has not yet been determined.

The researchers were instructed to “stand down” until further notice while the National Park Service conducts a review.

“We are devastated at the loss of these animals,” Berger stated.

The field study was being led by doctoral candidate Stefan Ekemas under Berger’s supervision. Researchers planned to dart 30 mountain goats over the next two summers with a goal of fitting them with radio collars and subcutaneous temperature monitors.

Captures were to be conducted by a veterinarian with care taken to minimize the risk of harm to the animals in the vicinity of cliffs, open water and rough terrain.

Scientists already have learned that changing climate is likely to squeeze habitat available to wildlife such as mountain goats due to changing vegetation in high-elevation terrain.

The main question posed by the study is: Will Glacier National Park become a refuge for mountain goats?

According to Berger, “Climate has been and continues to be a clear driver in shaping and modifying the boundaries of species distribution. Unlike organisms, the boundaries of national parks are fixed. Knowledge of the nature of change across both time and space offers key glimpses into a species’ biology, its potential ecological dynamics, and, perhaps, into conservation strategies.”

According to a park press release, future courses of action for the study will be determined by the National Park Service review.

Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by e-mail at jmann@dailyinterlake.com.

Print Article

Read More Local News

United adds direct flight from Kalispell to LAX

November 21, 2017 at 11:55 am | Daily Inter Lake United Airlines will offer direct seasonal flights from Glacier Park International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport starting June 7, Glacier Airport Director Rob Ratkowski announced Tue...

Comments

Read More

Housing complex to get major upgrade

November 21, 2017 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Community Action Partnership will receive $4.5 million in federal housing tax credits for a major renovation of its Courtyard Apartments on Airport Road in Kalispell. The Kalispell housing project w...

Comments

Read More

Black ice a factor in fatal accident on U.S. 2

November 21, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Daily Inter Lake A husband and wife from Kalispell died after being ejected from a vehicle on U.S. 2 at McGregor Lake early Tuesday morning. The 1995 Toyota Land Cruiser was traveling westbound down a hill with a ...

Comments

Read More

Ski resort begins preseason uphill restrictions

November 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Daily Inter Lake Route and timing restrictions for uphill skiers at Whitefish Mountain Resort go into effect Thursday, Nov. 23. Flathead National Forest and Whitefish Mountain Resort remind skiers and snowboarders...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2017 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X