Mountain Goats -- by David Lee Winston Miller
The idea that the Olympic Mountain Goats should be eradicated from the Olympic National Park was mostly based on the claim that these animals constituted "threats" to a variation of the milkvetch plant. The Park has occasionally admitted that this plant (Astragalus australis var. olympicus) is neither endangered nor threatened. However, the Park Service tried to make a case for killing the goats saying that the plant is a "candidate for the federal endangered species list." (It is important to understand that the plant was not on the endangered list or the threatened list--It was not even on the list of plants proposed to be listed as endangered or threatened.)
Now, it turns out that Astragalus australis var. olympicus is no longer a "candidate" for ANY listing by the Fish and Wildlife Service. None! (See Federal Register: 50 CFR Part 17, February 28, 1996, Volume 61, Number 40, pages 7595 through 7609. Enter 02/28/96 as "ON" issue date and enter "50 CFR part 17" AND "Page 7595" as the search terms.)
"Candidate" taxa are species for which the Fish and Wildlife Service "encourages State and other Federal agencies as well as other affected parties to give consideration to these taxa in environmental planning." (See page 7598.) However, because Astragalus australis var. olympicus is now among those species "proven to be more abundant or widespread than previouly believed or those that are not subject to any identifiable threat", it is no longer even in the candidate category. (Or any category for that matter).
One would hope that the Park service would react quickly to this news and release these animals from the threat of harm (and unnecessary government expenditures). We shall see.
It is important to note that my arguments for "sparing" the goats do not depend on the listing status of Astragalus australis var. olympicus. However, the Park did place heavy emphasis on the then "candidate" status of the plant. (See opening statements on page 7 of the Park Service's "Goats in Olympic National Park: Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Mountain Goat Management.") I argue that plants depend on animals just as animals depend on plants. This is an accepted theory of ecology. Strangely, recognition of this was, to the best of my reading, totally absent in the document. I have argued that the criteria by which the goats have been judged would find all herbivores incompatible with the entire planet.
Note: You can request a copy of the Park Service's decision from: Superintendent, Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Avenue, Port Angeles, Washington 98362. The Park Service is no longer accepting public opinion, but your elected officials (senators, representative, President, Vice-President) still are. (You may also write to: The Honorable Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240. It wouldn't hurt to send a copy to the Superintendent's address above.)
Additional info: Fine details, Background info, Fund for Animals ACTION ALERT, or write Cathy Sue Anunsen, N.W. Coordinator, Fund for Animals, 4985 Battle Creek Rd. SE, Salem, OR 97302. Volunteers or those with information regarding this issue may call (503) 588-1175.
Copyright 1996, David Lee Winston Miller. This document
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