A new report finds the population of mountain goats in the Olympic Mountains has more than doubled over the past 12 years.
The U.S. Geological Survey says there are now an estimated 620 of the nonnative goats — an increase 8 percent each year from 2004 to 2016.
Biologists with USGS, the National Park Service and state Department of Fish and Wildlife used low-flying helicopters to count goats in Olympic National Park and surrounding forest areas over the summer. The data will help inform the park’s mountain goat management plan, which is being developed.
Mountain goats were introduced to the Olympics decades ago, before the park was established, and have long posed a problem for park officials.
In 2010, a goat fatally gored an Olympic National Park visitor from Port Angeles.
Helicopters were used in the 1980s to capture and remove goats because they were damaging the park’s fragile alpine vegetation and soil.