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There is a plan in place to close most of the Northern Winds to goatpacking. This is supposed to take place in May. Reason stated is financial.
If you have comments on this please send them to :
USFS
Joe Alexander,
808 Meadow Lane,
Cody, Wyoming. 82414 .

Below is the letter that NAPgA has written. We believe that this is premature and that they have not followed due process with talking to goatpackers other than a couple of locals and that we have other solutions to offer them than a blanket closure.. Closing thisarea at this time is just a convenient way to make the whole issue go away, IMHO.

The only way we will have any affect is for all of you to write and send letters and have your frriends write and send letters. You can use the letter below to develop your own letter or just send a copy of this and write "I concur". and sign your name.

If we do nothing it's a done deal.

________________________________
American Packgoat Association

Joe Alexander

Forest Supervisor

Shoshone National Forest

808 Meadow Lane

Cody, WY 82414

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December 27, 2010

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Dear Joe Alexander:

The North American Packgoat Association (NAPgA) was formed in 1998 to further the use and enjoyment of the backcountry with the aid of a small, environmentally sound, more easily managed pack animal. Our membership is a very diverse user group with the common thread of backcountry recreation through the use of pack goats. We have members who fish, hunt, day hike, and pack, many of whom who are unable to use horses or llamas due to the physical requirements and safety concerns associated with larger animals. Our members often have disabilities that severely limit or prevent them from carrying a pack into the backcountry, or are simply outdoor enthusiast with young children that often need to be carried. The diversity of the pack goat community creates an overlap with other forest uses in Shoshone and many other National Forests. We are deeply concerned with the possibility of a closure that would deny access to the world famous beauty of Shoshone National Forest for such a diverse multiple-user group.

We have some serious concerns about the proposed closure of four ranger districts in the Wind River Range due to what seem to be some misconceptions about pack goats and the Forest Service’s limited time and funding to investigate them.

We would like to address some of these items before such an extreme action is taken and to ensure that the realities of pack goat use are not lost due to misinformation. We would like to offer a compromise that would prevent such a significant loss of access to our multiple-user group while providing protection measures for wildlife.

Our veterinary advisors have assured us that there is a difference between a managed pack goat group working on the trail and an allotment of domestic sheep or goats. This concern stems from the Shoshone National Forest Scoping Notice (June 15, 2009, File Code: 2600) associating these two very different types of forest use. Specifically, the concern for interaction with bighorn sheep is very different with a small string of pack goats passing through the backcountry under user control than it is with free-ranging domestic sheep herds numbering in the hundreds or thousands with no control and acceptable loss rates. Pack goats are working animals that must be in excellent condition and receive regular health care such as vaccinations, worming and physical examination.

It is our belief that existing pack animal regulations address concerns related to bighorn contact including the prevention of loose herding and the requirement that all pack animals be in a string on the trail and tied at night. Our members have been well educated in pack stringing and high lining, and we believe these are very effective measures to prevent contact with bighorn sheep.

We are asking for management, not exclusion. Allow us to manage our small pack goat herd while in the mountains through existing regulations and the addition of GPS collars (Garmin Astro) to collect track data that can be used by the Forest Service in their Plan Revision Process. Provide management requirements such as minimum distances from bighorn sheep and seasonal closures of trails that access crucial habitat such as parturition areas. We encourage you to look at how the concern of pack goat interaction with bighorn sheep has been handled by the Forest Service in the state of Washington. They post temporary closures on trailheads based on actual bighorn movement and require leads and high lining.

In a personal communication to Charlie Jennings (NAPgA Land Use Committee Chair), Joe Harper (Forest Service Wildlife Biologist) referenced the sale of Shoshone National Forest commercial use permits held by Wind River Pack Goats to the Wild Sheep Foundation “due to concerns of disease transmission in bighorn sheep core habitatâ€. We do not believe the purchase of a business that was already for sale by a special interest group with the money and resources to do so is a valid justification for the closure of an entire forest to individual private users. It is our understanding that there was no documented transmission that prompted the buyout, it was simply a potential concern that was more easily addressed through NGO money than research and management.

Also of concern to us is what seems to be limited effort to collect information from pack goat users prior to the decision to close the forest and close the project assessment. While we appreciate the limited time an funding available to the assessment before it was precluded, and we are aware that some local individuals had been involved in some way, we feel the NAPgA is an easily found and consulted NGO devoted to pack goat use that can be invaluable in providing viable information to this portion of the Plan Revision Process. We appreciate the opportunity to be involved at this time due to Joe Harpers correspondence and continued assistance before the closure is in effect. We request that the Forest Service allow us to create a volunteer Wilderness Steward/Wilderness Range group, as is in place in many National Forests, to help with managing pack goat users and educating trail users about pack goats.

We realize that shifting priorities preclude the Forest Service from working on this project at this time, resulting in a two year temporary closure until the issue can be revisited. The NAPgA proposes that we develop a program to provide self-imposed management restrictions to minimize the burden of funding and resource commitments by the Forest Service, while keeping the forest open during those two years. We can implement our suggested management practices such as the use of GPS collars for stock permittees to collect usable track data as well as high lining, pack stringing, avoidance and seasonal trail closures to minimize potential contact with bighorn sheep. Similar programs have been very successful in other National Forests and several of our members have already been involved in development and implementation.

None of us wishes to put bighorn sheep at risk of potential disease transmission, but we believe that proper management is a valid solution to mitigating an already extremely low risk while avoiding the denial of access to our user group over such a large area. We believe that other National Forests have set a positive example in addressing this issue, and we would like to work with Shoshone National Forest to continue that positive example for other ranger districts that will likely deal with this concern in the future.

We appreciate your time, and request appropriate contact information for our members who would like to express their concerns. Please feel free to continue contact with Charlie Jennings for any further information you require.

North American Packgoat Association

Lawrence Robinson, President---Boise, Idaho

Charles Jennings, Land Use Committee Chair--Logan, Utah

Carolyn Eddy, Education Committee Chair--Portland, Oregon

Kent Daniels, Board--St. Anthony, Idaho

Rachel Suomela, Membership Committee Chair--Washington

Shelly Borg, Board--Redding, California
 

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Excellent letter!

It sounds like this is not just a proposal to do away with special use permits for goat packing outfitter/guides but this proposal would affect all of us recreational goat packers as well. Is that correct?
As one that's very familiar with that counry, I'm not liking this one bit! This is the first I've heard of this proposal.
I've not packed goats in that country but I've backpacked it a lot before getting my pack goats.
Please keep us updated on any developments with this bogus proposal.
 

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I received this email on December 9th 2010, just a few weeks ago, from Joe Harper, who is the Wildlife Biologist in charge of Bighorn Sheep studies for the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming. This email is in response to an email that I had sent to him the day before...he had phoned me the news that the Forest Service Supervisor was issuing a temporary closure, effective in May 2011.

Hi Charlie,

I just got back from the southern part of the Forest after being down there for 3 days. Right now, the proposed temporary closure would restrict domestic sheep and goats on 4 of the 5 ranger districts where we have all of the bighorn sheep core habitat. The Washakie Ranger District (Lander office) would not be affected and domestic sheep and goat use are allowed here. We have no domestic sheep grazing going on in bighorn sheep core habitat, so the closure really doesn't impact any domestic sheep grazing permittees and we are not aware of any domestic sheep packers. The closure will not restrict llamas or horses.

The rationale behind the closure is the Shoshone contains the largest populations of bighorn sheep in the lower 48 states. Economically and socially, bighorn sheep attract large numbers of visitors to the Shoshone to hunt and view these spectacular animals.

During Forest Plan revision discussions, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department asked the Shoshone to look more closely at the issue of potential interaction between bighorn sheep and domestic pack goats. The results of such interactions can be the transmission of pneumonia, conjunctivitis (pink eye), lung worm, and sore mouth. An increasing body of evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates bighorn sheep in close proximity to domestics are at risk for disease transmission. While the research is not clear on exactly how transmission occurs, there is enough evidence from the field to strongly suggest that it does occur, and when it does, the consequences for bighorn sheep are devastating. We also know that because bighorns are more vulnerable to these disease agents, goats can act as carriers of some of these ailments without showing any outward signs of illness.
Due to concerns of disease transmission in bighorn sheep core habitat, the only commercial domestic pack goat outfitter on the Shoshone that operated on the Wind River and Washakie Ranger Districts, was bought out by the Wyoming Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep in 2007. No further commercial pack goat outfitting has been authorized.

Due to the various court challenges to the Forest Service's Planning Rule, the Shoshone's Forest Pan Revision process has been delayed for a number of years. It appears we are now going to move forward and continue our Plan Revision Process but are still 2-3 years out from having a completed revised Forest Plan.

Forest Supervisor Joe Alexander has decided to incorporate the environmental review of domestic goat use in bighorn sheep habitat into the Forest Plan revision process with a planned completion of December 2013. In the interim, in order to provide for separation of domestic goats and bighorn sheep, a temporary closure order will be in place restricting the use of domestic goats on the entire Shoshone with the exception of the Washakie Ranger District (Lander). This will allow the public the opportunity to comment on this action during plan revision, while allowing for the continued use of domestic goats on the Washakie Ranger District. Once signed, the closure order will remain in effect until the forest plan revision process is completed.

Yes, the Forest Supervsor would be willing to meet with you before the closure order is finalized. We want those parties effected by this closure to be heard. Depending upon the Forest Supervisor's availability and at your convenience, you and I can work out some dates to try and meet. The closure will be signed by by next spring so this gives us sometime to meet.

Hope this answered your questions and let's keep in touch. Joe


Several things need to be pointed out about this email -

We weren't asked whether or not it was okay for the closure to take place. We were not given the option to provide public feedback about the closure. We were TOLD that a closure was going to occur. Carolyn and I feel that Due Process has been violated here.

We suspect that the temporary closure was decided on without our input because the FS lacks sufficient evidence that would stand up in court in order to legally ban goats from the National Forest.

I would like to have a face to face meeting with the Forest Service Supervisor in the next few weeks over this desired Closure. This would require me giving up a day of work and driving to Cody, Wyoming in order to meet with him.

I feel that it would be wise to approach the Forest Service folks with the attitude of...THERE ARE ALREADY DOCUMENTS IN PLACE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL TO MANAGE GOATS IN THE NATIONAL FOREST, WHY IMPOSE NEW ONES? Also, WHY DON'T WE LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR BOTH GOAT AND BH SHEEP TO CO-EXIST IN THE NATIONAL FOREST? Also, There is a HUGE difference between pack goats and free-ranging brush goats! We take a handful of goats with us that never leave our side. Brush goats number in the hundreds or thousands. We vaccinate, they don't.

Claims have been made recently that pasturella is airborne. I have yet to find any documented evidence that this is the truth. The truth is, according to a 2010 report from Dr. Foreyt, is that pasturella, or Manheimia Hemolytica as it is now called, is NOT airborne. The recent studies were using domestic sheep, placed 10 meters away from Bighorn Sheep, for one month. The Bighorn Sheep experienced NO CLINICAL SIGNS OF PNEUMONIA. NONE DIED. However, they did die when allowed to commingle with the domestic sheep. BUT that is domestic sheep, NOT goats.

Studies done in 1994 by Dr. Foreyt indicate that it is the domestic sheep and mouflan sheep that were killing the Bighorn Sheep while in captivity. When the Bighorn Sheep were place in pens with domestic goats and llamas, NO die-offs occurred.

It is my proposal that we contest this closure, with the spirit of HELPING SOLVE THE PROBLEM. We do not have the funds to go head-to-head with the Game and Fish, or FNAWS, nor do I wish to irritate the Forest Service Supervisor at all. I would like to sit down with him and discuss the problem and suggest solutions other than closing the area to pack goats. If we do not contest this issue, the Wyoming Game & Fish will get whatever they want, and that may eventually include closing the entire Wind River Range and the Wyoming Range as well.

I am in favor of intelligent management of packgoats, NOT PROHIBITION OF THE ENTIRE SPECIES.

One possible solution right now could be that NAPgA purchases GPS collars for stock permittees, have the permittees rent them for $50 per week, make sure that highlining is mandatory at night, and a lead rope is used when crossing Bighorn Sheep core habitat areas. Health Certificates are already required in the State of Wyoming. The GPS collars are expensive but effective. I can buy them at $489 wholesale and am willing to do so. Then we would possess the gps data that could be emailed to the Forest Service, proving where we were located.

If they want to close the area to free ranging goats, that is fine with me. But they need to differentiate pack goats from the brush goats, and domestic sheep.

Charlie Jennings
Land Use Commitee Chair
NAPgA
 

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wyowinds said:
Excellent letter!

It sounds like this is not just a proposal to do away with special use permits for goat packing outfitter/guides but this proposal would affect all of us recreational goat packers as well. Is that correct?
As one that's very familiar with that counry, I'm not liking this one bit! This is the first I've heard of this proposal.
I've not packed goats in that country but I've backpacked it a lot before getting my pack goats.
Please keep us updated on any developments with this bogus proposal.
Commercial goatpacking was history as of 2007 in the Northern Winds.

This affects ANY private owner that wishes to use his packgoats for private use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here is the original letter from the FS Bioogist. Note the comment about closing down commercial packing due to disease concerns.
Carolyn

Hi Charlie,

I just got back from the southern part of the Forest after being down there for 3 days. Right now, the proposed temporary closure would restrict domestic sheep and goats on 4 of the 5 ranger districts where we have all of the bighorn sheep core habitat. The Washakie Ranger District (Lander office) would not be affected and domestic sheep and goat use are allowed here. We have no domestic sheep grazing going on in bighorn sheep core habitat, so the closure really doesn't impact any domestic sheep grazing permittees and we are not aware of any domestic sheep packers. The closure will not restrict llamas or horses.

The rationale behind the closure is the Shoshone contains the largest populations of bighorn sheep in the lower 48 states. Economically and socially, bighorn sheep attract large numbers of visitors to the Shoshone to hunt and view these spectacular animals.

During Forest Plan revision discussions, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department asked the Shoshone to look more closely at the issue of potential interaction between bighorn sheep and domestic pack goats. The results of such interactions can be the transmission of pneumonia, conjunctivitis (pink eye), lung worm, and sore mouth. An increasing body of evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates bighorn sheep in close proximity to domestics are at risk for disease transmission. While the research is not clear on exactly how transmission occurs, there is enough evidence from the field to strongly suggest that it does occur, and when it does, the consequences for bighorn sheep are devastating. We also know that because bighorns are more vulnerable to these disease agents, goats can act as carriers of some of these ailments without showing any outward signs of illness.
Due to concerns of disease transmission in bighorn sheep core habitat, the only commercial domestic pack goat outfitter on the Shoshone that operated on the Wind River and Washakie Ranger Districts, was bought out by the Wyoming Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep in 2007. No further commercial pack goat outfitting has been authorized.

Due to the various court challenges to the Forest Service's Planning Rule, the Shoshone's Forest Pan Revision process has been delayed for a number of years. It appears we are now going to move forward and continue our Plan Revision Process but are still 2-3 years out from having a completed revised Forest Plan.

Forest Supervisor Joe Alexander has decided to incorporate the environmental review of domestic goat use in bighorn sheep habitat into the Forest Plan revision process with a planned completion of December 2013. In the interim, in order to provide for separation of domestic goats and bighorn sheep, a temporary closure order will be in place restricting the use of domestic goats on the entire Shoshone with the exception of the Washakie Ranger District (Lander). This will allow the public the opportunity to comment on this action during plan revision, while allowing for the continued use of domestic goats on the Washakie Ranger District. Once signed, the closure order will remain in effect until the forest plan revision process is completed.

Yes, the Forest Supervsor would be willing to meet with you before the closure order is finalized. We want those parties effected by this closure to be heard. Depending upon the Forest Supervisor's availability and at your convenience, you and I can work out some dates to try and meet. The closure will be signed by by next spring so this gives us sometime to meet.

Hope this answered your questions and let's keep in touch. Joe


====================
Joe Harper, Wildlife Biologist
Shoshone NF, SO
808 Meadow Lane
Cody, WY 82414-4516
phone: 307-578-5158
fax: (307) 578-5112
 

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When a pebble hits a pond there is not just one ripple. I worry that this ripple will keep going. Other ranger districts may feel justified in closing their jurisdiction to goats simply because the Wind Rivers did.

I wonder if there are some things we could be doing to go the extra mile so to speak. There are numerous examples of standards being set up and certification being offered privately—in many cases without any government regulation. From rock climbing rope ratings to professional certifications, when quality has been a concern, private parties have found a way to clearly show that they have met a certain standard.

I am thinking outside the box here. But, perhaps the NAPgA could get into the business of pack goat certification. For instance, the NAPgA could create an application-physical form that must be filled out and signed by a vet that calls for specific tests and lab work to be done. Kind of like the physical form a doctor fills out for a child that wants to go to summer camp. The application-physical would be sent to the NAPgA. If satisfactory, the NAPgA would send the goat owner an attractive easy to recognize dog tag to be worn on the goat’s collar. Among other things, the dog tag would contain a number which would match a tattooed number on the inside of the goat’s ear. The tag would contain the date of certification and may also contain contact information for the owner of the goat. Of course NAPgA would charge a fee to make the certification process worth their time. In addition to a goat physical, the NAPgA may even create an online training tutorial that packgoat owners could take to certify that they know and will follow accepted practices that will keep their goats disease free and from coming into contact with wild sheep and goats.

This certification would give the Forest Service the opportunity to require NAPgA certification rather than just closing the forest to goats. This is overboard and is a second best outcome. But it is certainly better than being kicked out of certain areas all together.
 

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The results of such interactions can be the transmission of pneumonia, conjunctivitis (pink eye), lung worm..........
The above diseases are not species specific.
They are zoonoses(sp).
Horses also get and transmit these. Maybe
the horse groups should be informed also.
Because the FS starts with goats. And the
ripple effect could include horses in the future.

Horse groups are bigger. More voices......
 
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