Title

Exotic Ungulates and Cushion Plants: A Story of the Mountain Goat in Southeastern Utah

Abstract

The La Sal mountains of southeastern Utah are sky islands harboring alpine plants that exist nowhere else in the state and one endemic species, the La Sal daisy (Erigeron mancus). In September of 2013, 20 exotic mountain goats were introduced to the mountains for hunting and viewing purposes by the Utah Division of Wildlife, a state agency. The following year, 15 more goats were released despite a strong backlash from the community and environmentalists. These goats expanded their distribution to include the Manti-La Sal National Forest, a parcel of federal land that encompasses the mountain range. The story of the mountain goat introduction is rife with controversy as hunting enthusiasts and plant protectors butt heads. I will examine this story at many levels, from the wind-blown wildflowers atop the 11,000 foot peaks to the tumultuous town hall meetings where the mountain goat becomes a symbol for so much more.

Faculty Sponsor

Susanne Altermann

Sponsor Department/Programs

Biology

Tracks

Enviromental Impacts

Location

REID G02

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Research Funding Source or OCS Program

Funding for this research was provided by the Whitman College Environmental Studies Program

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Exotic Ungulates and Cushion Plants: A Story of the Mountain Goat in Southeastern Utah

REID G02

The La Sal mountains of southeastern Utah are sky islands harboring alpine plants that exist nowhere else in the state and one endemic species, the La Sal daisy (Erigeron mancus). In September of 2013, 20 exotic mountain goats were introduced to the mountains for hunting and viewing purposes by the Utah Division of Wildlife, a state agency. The following year, 15 more goats were released despite a strong backlash from the community and environmentalists. These goats expanded their distribution to include the Manti-La Sal National Forest, a parcel of federal land that encompasses the mountain range. The story of the mountain goat introduction is rife with controversy as hunting enthusiasts and plant protectors butt heads. I will examine this story at many levels, from the wind-blown wildflowers atop the 11,000 foot peaks to the tumultuous town hall meetings where the mountain goat becomes a symbol for so much more.