Efforts to shoot mountain goats from a helicopter in Grand Teton National Park, WY have been suspended after an open letter from governor Mark Gordon prompted Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to intervene.
Park officials were ordered to suspend the culling Friday night, hours after the effort began. Gov. Mark Gordon had called the helicopter gunning a “farce” in his letter to acting Grand Teton Superintendent Gopaul Noojidail.
“I have long appreciated Grand Teton National Park for the treasure it is to all our citizens. Now I hope I will not have to remember it as an example of federal disregard for the sovereignty of the states,” Gordon wrote.
Gordon said there must be better ways to address the mountain goats more cooperatively with the National Park Service. It is unknown how many goats have been killed.
The Park Service was attempting to eradicate about 100 nonnative mountain goats, for the benefit of about 100 native bighorn sheep, by picking them off from a helicopter. The goats compete with the sheep for food and habitat and can spread diseases including pneumonia to the native animals.
Park officials closed off large portions of the mountains to the public in preparation, including many backcountry ski zones. Officials also objected from a hunting-ethics perspective, saying shooting from helicopters leaves the meat to waste, although no public goat hunt is planned in Grand Teton.