Shoshone forest plan lawsuit leads to negotiated solution on pack goats

The North American Packgoat Association’s lawsuit reversed a forest plan decision to restrict the use of goats for packing (because of risk of disease spreading to bighorn sheep) based on a procedural violation.  They then got together with the National Wild Sheep Foundation and other stakeholders to work out a new plan, which the Shoshone just adopted (presumably as a forest plan amendment, though the Forest website has no information about it).

The balance that was struck prohibits pack goats from territory used by core bighorn sheep herds in the Absaroka Range and Wind River Mountains. It was a concession the goat packers were willing to make, partially because of lack of use and the undesirable nature of the Absaroka as a goat packing destination.

“North of Whiskey Mountain is infested with grizzlies,” Jennings said. “Frankly I didn’t want to go in there anyway.”

Permits will required to bring the pack animals into the Shoshone in areas where they are allowed, which include the entire Washakie Ranger District and the southern reaches of the Wind River Ranger District. The Temple Peak Herd roams the area between the two pack-goat-friendly zones, but the Wyoming Game and Fish Department manage it as a lower-priority herd. The state agency agreed with the Shoshone that the Temple Peak sheep could be subject to a higher level of risk.

The Shoshone’s decision also calls for goat packers to abide by a strict set of rules, like stringing no more than three animals per person, leashing their goats and possessing proof of vaccinations.

Possibly in the background was the result of another lawsuit finding that extirpation of a “lower-priority” herd of bighorn sheep could be a violation of NFMA.


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