Release of mountain goats near Mt. Jefferson, Oregon seems to be working

Release seemed to briefly stall, but now the goats are raising kids and expanding territory-

In 2010 45 mountain goats were released on the east slopes of Mt. Jefferson, a tall volcano in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Soon 3 of them slipped to their death or were killed by predators. Most survived, however,  and last July twenty-four more goats were released . . . 14 were adult nannies, one was an adult billy, 6 were  yearling nannies. Also there were 2 female kids and one male kid.  July’s goats came from NE Oregon’s Elkhorn Range.

The goats are now raising kids and spreading out in territory. The death rate now is very low. They were released on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, which owns the east side of Mt. Jeff.  Olallie Butte and Three-fingered Jack were cited as new locations the goats were moving to by the Tribe’s wildlife manager.  As expected and hoped, some of the goats have moved off of the Reservation.

Due to success no more releases are planned for Mt. Jefferson, but other craggy places in the Oregon Cascades such as the Three Sisters volcanoes are likely sites of future releases.  A population of 50 mountain goats is regarded as a success by Oregon Fish and Game.

The original mountain goats in the area were killed off way back in the 1850s, mostly by horn hunters.  Oregon as a whole now has about 800 goats though about half are concentrated in one mountain range — the Elkhorns just west of Baker.



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  1. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Good to hear. 🙂

  2. SEAK Mossback Avatar
    SEAK Mossback

    I remember when goats used to repopulate Oregon were sent from Southeast Alaska at least 2 decades ago. Great to see how successful re-introductions have been. Not everything ever goes smoothly when handling and transporting such hardy, rugged animals. Around a Yukon wood stove in an isolated field camp this past October, I received a refreshed account straight from one of the participants — the go-to guy in this region for over 35 years for anybody who wants catch, tag or transport live anything with four legs. It seems that after much adventure and some misadventure, the desired number of goats had been darted on surrounding mountains and stowed in plywood crates arranged on the bow of a department vessel tied to the dock in Ketchikan. As they cast off to cross the channel to the Ketchikan Airport on Gravina Island, word was relayed from Alaska Airlines that the crates had to be clean going on the jet. So, my friend and another guy started carefully lifting the sliding doors a few inches on both ends of each crate and hosing any goat excrement out. Unfortunately, a large billy in one crate reached down and hooked the door with his horns and pushed it the rest of the way up, where it jammed. They tried desperately to unstick it and push it back down, but the goat ultimately emerged and wandered across the deck. While their minds were spinning over how they might regain control, he disappeared through the galley door into the vessel. Their greatest immediate concern was what might happen if he continued up the stairs to the bridge and encountered our salty old skipper.

    A few minutes later, while scurrying around looking for drugs, they heard a desperate cry from the galley, “help! help!”. It seems a fit, confident guy (former cowboy with bull-dogging experience) had entered the galley and found the goat standing on the highest available terrain — the counter (with all four feet in the kitchen sink) —- and decided to wrestle him down to the floor. They ran in and discovered the goat thrashing the guy who was pinned to the floor, getting butted and stomped (both horns were sheathed in sections of hose or it likely would have been fatal). Nearly everybody on the boat piled on and wrestled the goat down. Drugs were administered and they managed to get him back into the crate just as the boat was pulling up to the airport dock.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      What an amazing story! And I never knew where the first reintroduced goats in Oregon came from.

    2. DLB Avatar

      Thanks for sharing that story!

      I guess he assumed that the goat would behave in a similar fashion to a steer. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to pin a steer out of a chute until you try it.

    3. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      As usual, great story.

    4. Louise Kane Avatar

      wow thats a crazy story! Thanks for sharing

  3. Ida Lupine Avatar
    Ida Lupine

    Yes, a great story. 🙂

  4. Nancy Avatar

    Another great tale for the book, Seak 🙂

  5. alf Avatar

    There’s a Sawed Cabin Lake up high, near timberline, on the Beaverhead National Forest in the Anaconda-Pintlar Wilderness in SW Montana. It’s named for a cabin made of huge squared timbers sawed from I assume whitebark pine (the only thing that grows that big that high there). Last time I was there, over 25 years ago, the cabin was still standing, but very badly deteriorated.

    The story was that it was built by a guy, like the guy in SEAK Mossback’s post who was “the go-to guy…for anybody who wants catch, tag or transport live anything with four legs”.

    The story was that he used it as a base for trapping goats for transplanting, and that he’d hog-tie them and carry them out ON HIS BACK to the trailhead, several miles below.

    I’ve never attempted to verify this tale, but true or not, it makes an interesting story.

  6. Sam Parks Avatar

    Whether or not there were ever mountain goats in Oregon is debatable. The forest service says this:

    “Its native range occurs from southeastern Alaska south to the Columbia River in Washington; east into Idaho and western Montana; and north to southern Yukon [34,110]. Throughout the 1900s, mountain goats were introduced in some areas outside of their known historical range in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada [24,34,89,110]. They were reintroduced in parts of their native range where they had been extirpated in Alaska, Alberta, Idaho, Montana, and Washington.”

    While others say small isolated populations existed as far south as Central Oregon and were extirpated by the 1850s, my understanding is that there is little to no physical evidence of this (remains). Some historical accounts suggest they were present. I’m not sure what to believe.

    1. WM Avatar

      There also seems to be some belief there were mountain goats in OR as paraphrased words from the Lewis and Clark expedition, referenced in the Oregon Rocky Mountain Goat Management Plan (2003), plus the fact that they were present in the Cascades in WA, though not likely visible to L&C in their path (habitat further inland from the Columbia River on the north), or evidence from tribes they encountered to the north. There apparently also mountain goat artifacts found in OR.

      See p.4.

      1. SEAK Mossback Avatar

        Here’s another ODF&W source that briefly discusses historical evidence for goats in Oregon and describes the history of transplants. Looks like the Elkhorn Range herd has a pretty diverse genetic heritage based on transplants from three locations: Clearwater drainage in Idaho, Olympic National Park and Misty Fjords (near Ketchikan, AK – transplant described above). Some of the Southeast Alaska goats were apparently also released in the Wallowa Mountains.

      2. Ryan Avatar

        The Columbia river gorge is pretty rugged country and would be good habitat for Mtn Goats.

        1. Savebears Avatar


          I just came through there about a week ago and the big horns were out and about and very visible.

          1. Patti Elshafei Avatar
            Patti Elshafei

            Saw a herd of 12-15 along 84 on Tuesday near Rufus. right on the side of the free. I was going 65-70 miles per hour, but they were amazing. (somewhat scarey to thing they could enter the freeway…)

        2. Ryan Avatar


          I would guess that the area around Corbett up to Hood river would be ideal habitat as it is cold and steep. There was one living near the dalles a few years back.

          1. Savebears Avatar

            The herd I saw Ryan, we east of The Dalles, they were in the hard rock slopes along I-84

  7. Patricia Randolph Avatar

    I am always skeptical of reintroductions as future cannon fodder for trophy serial killers. What guarantee is there that these are not reintroduced to be a trophy hunt for the elite killers who run our state agencies.

    As a journalist who writes the Madravenspeak LIVING wildlife column ( at ) out of Wisconsin, I know that all across this country we need to organize to replace killing license funding with general public funding and get the bias of killing money out of our state agencies to save what we can. Wildlife populations in general have plummeted 35% in the past 35 years and continue to go exponentially like climate change is moving. Third world countries, ahead of us, are starting to close their doors to the mass murder. Kenya has banned all trapping and hunting as lions, elephants and rhinos go extinct. Costa Rica has made moves to ban trophy hunting to protect its biological heritage. Botswana is banning trophy hunting. Ecuador and Bolivia have put the RIGHTS OF ALL BEINGS TO EXIST AND NOT BE HARMED BY MAN into their constitutions. Time for us to follow – or lead on something life giving – including trying to save our acidifying oceans.

    Move to a plant based diet because 51% of climate change is the 55 billion slaughterhouse animal production in the world, displacing wildlife and habitat and a big excuse for killing bears, wolves, coyotes, and all top and mid-range natural predators for that all time glutton predator, MAN.

    1. Ryan Avatar


      Have you done research on animap pupulations in African countries that allow trophy hunting vs those that don’t? Besides the national parks, Kenyas animal populations have plummeted since the 1970’s when hunting was banned. If wildlife has no value, then it is poached (for value) or displaced by industrial farming practices which are toxic for wildlife and the ecosystem. I don’t know where you get your 35% number from, wildlife populations in the united states are doing quite while under hunting/conservation model. Infact without hunting, I would bet that we would have 1/10th of the wildlife and wild places we have now.

    2. Louise Kane Avatar

      Patricia, thank you for your efforts to protect wildlife. and for standing up against the status quo.

  8. Lee Rockwell Avatar
    Lee Rockwell

    @ Patricia Randolph… What a great little article! Pretty much sums it all up as far as I’m concerned!!!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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