If weather and equipment cooperate, wildlife biologists will begin counting mountain goats in Olympic National Park and the neighboring Olympic National Forest next week.
The count by U.S. Geological Survey and park staff is scheduled to be done from a low-flying helicopter during early morning hours between July 18 and July 28, focusing on ice-free areas above 4,500 feet in elevation, according to a park release.
The helicopter will operate from a landing area at Deer Park. Visitors may experience brief traffic delays when the helicopter is landing or taking off, and campers there may be awakened at dawn on days that census flights are scheduled.
“This survey is part of Olympic National Park’s ongoing effort to maintain current information about the population status of the park’s non-native mountain goats,” said Olympic Superintendent Karen Gustin.
Preliminary results of the 2011 census will be available in August.
The last mountain goat census was conducted in 2004 and estimated the population to contain between 259 and 320 mountain goats. Park officials say this estimate was statistically no different than previous censuses conducted in 1997, 1994 and 1990.
The 1997 census indicated a mountain goat population between 237 and 325, whereas the 1994 census indicated a population of between 225 and 351 mountain goats. The 1990 census resulted in an estimate of between 181 and 597 mountain goats.
Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympic Mountains in the 1920s, prior to establishment of Olympic National Park.