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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(This post will be added to on a "piece meal" basis...it is too lengthy of an explanation to deal with in one sitting.)

Dear Goat Spot Community Forum members -

Several years ago I was asked to work with Jan Huffaker, former President of our North American Packgoat Association, over Land Use issues. I was totally "green" on the subject, and spent lots and lots of hours studying...the learning curve was pretty steep. Jan knew a ton of information, as well as Carolyn Eddy and others about the subject. Carolyn and others had done a wonderful job at building close relationships with the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon and Washington by doing trail maintenance, garbage cleanup, etc.

Anyway, things were starting to "brew" in Wyoming, in the Shoshone National Forest, and rumors were heard that the U.S. Forest Service, the Game & Fish folks, and private organizations such as FNAWS, now known as the Wyoming Sheep foundation, wanted to ban packgoats from core bighorn sheep habitat, on the East side of the Continental Divide. The commercial packgoat permit was even purchased from the owner of Wind River Packgoats by FNAWS, in order to eliminate commercial goat packing in the Winds. This gave them a foot in the door to begin to eliminate goatpacking in the Forest.

I started studying Peer Reviewed Scientific Studies done by Scientists at WSU. This is critically important.. Peer reviewed studies are not to be taken lightly. I found that a bunch of different scientists sign off on the study before it is published. So it is a really big deal. And I discovered that there is not a single peer reviewed study in existence that shows where domestic goats have been commingled with Bighorn Sheep and death or illness has occurred. A study was conducted in 1994 by documented by Dr. Foreyt of WSU where he penned domestic goats with Bighorn Sheep. The bighorn sheep remained healthy after contact with the domestic goats. I can go into more detail about this document at a later date, as a number of different animals were penned with bighorn sheep. The domestic sheep and the mouflan sheep produced fatal results with the bighorn sheep. But, I repeat, there was no evidence of sickness or death when the bighorn sheep were in direct nose-to-nose contact with the domestic goats. This is the only experiment that we have ever been able to find where goats and bighorn sheep were penned together. I say this because in phone conversations with Dr. Foreyt himself, he told me that there is not sufficient data to make any kind of determinations such as bans, but just to be safe, keep the two species separated and avoid nose-to-nose contact. We goatpackers can do this, if we highline our animals at night in bighorn sheep country, and we strongly encourage everyone to follow this practice.

(to be continued)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I should back up and say that I got into goatpacking because I love to go fly fishing in the Mountains of Wyoming, Idaho and Utah and go after large trout that are deep in the remote areas of these mountains. But I am 56 years old now and do not feel like humping a 50 lb backpack anymore. So when I read a book by Gary LaFontane and they used to load up panniers on his buddy's goat named Rufus and head for the high alpine lakes, I was hooked. NOW I could still enjoy the back country, and have my trail companions carry my essentials. Before I got the book, one of my friends mentioned packgoats, and I thought he was smoking something. Never heard of P-A-C-K-G-O-A-T-S.

Five years ago I took my sons and we goatpacked 18 miles in to some high lakes in mid-July. The cutthroat trout were still spawning, and ice was just coming off of the lakes. I loved it. I marveled at how these goats of mine would work their hearts out for me, just to please me. I admired their affection, their loyalty and their devotion to me.
 

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This is interesting, was just reading email the other day about what you just wrote about,
and said they will be trying to stop it, what a shame, isn't it a fact that the goats should be caring a health cert. and isn't the cert. valid for 30 days, it would seem to me that the goats would be quit healthy to begin with, who would want to try to work a sick goat. Anyway I think I would be more concerned about the health issues going to the goats. Will try to find the article I just recieved and post it.
 

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I would be willing to help. What can we do, do we need to write letters to senators or exactly what would have the most impact? They are pushing the horses off more and more trails as well. I think both are ridiculous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
In my future postings, I will reference Game and Fish reports claiming domestic goats are linked with disease transmission to Bighorn Sheep. These reports are usually written by biologists, and they reference published scientific documents that pertain to DOMESTIC SHEEP, but nowhere do they reference domestic goat studies. So they subtly and deliberately have lumped domestic goats in with domestic sheep, they have ignored the Best Management Practices proposed by regional boards to avoid direct contact (which makes sense to me). Rather they are choosing to push for a TOTAL BAN. REALLY???? How are they going to keep the wild mountain goats, which carry organisms, out of the National Forests? Put a fence around the entire forest? How about the cattle that have been shown to share water troughs in the winter with bighorn sheep during the winter? To me, and others, there seems to be a hidden agenda at the federal level, and I haven't figured out yet what it is.

There are very few goatpackers that visit the Fitzpatrick Wilderness Area. It is a very remote region. The odds of goatpackers running into bighorn sheep are extremely small. And if Best Management Practices are implemented, chances of commingling are one in a million. My goodness, all I want to do is go enjoy the high alpine lakes in theWinds and go catch golden trout. Isn't there room enough for us and our packgoats, that have been vaccinated? I am really not interested in my goats infecting Bighorn Sheep, even though that has never ever been proven to be the case, even in a laboratory setting.

More to come....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
US Forest Service BAN

I would be willing to help. What can we do, do we need to write letters to senators or exactly what would have the most impact? They are pushing the horses off more and more trails as well. I think both are ridiculous.
Thanks so much for your interest, NubianFan. You folks ARE AWESOME!

NAPgA has hired the best attorney that we could possibly find that is an expert in this area, to represent us. He has produced a masterpiece of a rebuttal document to the US Forest Service, during their 90 public comment period. Now we are waiting to hear back from the USFS as to what they decide to do with our recommendations. We are also waiting to hear the results of a court case in Idaho that could leave the Forest Service with egg on their faces, due to sloppy "modeling" and referencing inaccurate sources on their part.

Our plan is to raise cash, lots of it, in case this has to go to court. We can first appeal their decisions, but if it escalates from there, NAPgA wants to be prepared and ready to take this all the way to court and win. We have the evidence, or lack of it, to win in court, in my opinion. We just need to build the financial resources to have our attorney to represent us if have to go there.
 

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The "hidden agenda" is control, plain and simple. This is not a "left-wing liberal" agenda nor a "right-wing conservative" one. It's just a power play by a government that thinks they own the land that actually belongs to the public.

It's also a display of willful ignorance and bureaucracy at work. There's a lot of misunderstanding and mismanagement by folks who spent a pile of money on a degree but spent no time in the field. It's much easier to pick on small groups like goat packers to make it look like they're "doing something" about wildlife health problems that they don't know much about and whose proper solutions (if there are any) would be a lot more complicated and less showy than a ban. This way they can claim the problem is solved (even if it's not) and hope no one will notice. These departments have to justify their existence, and if they're not banning someone, closing off trails, and placing ever more restrictions, they're clearly not important and might lose funding.
 

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I had noticed some resistance lately when I take my Peggy Sue out hiking with me. She isn't a packgoat, she's just my little companion animal, and since she only weighs 45# and is 16 inches tall I take her anywhere dogs are allowed. Recently I've been stopped and told I can't bring my goat into the park. Upon further investigation the park rangers admitted it wasn't yet policy, but that the safety of the native wildlife might be at stake. I'm happy to make a big stink for my baby's right to hike wherever she wants! Ironically, where I live the only real wildlife is white-tailed deer, which my poor goat already got Meningeal worms from (though she's fine now).

Thankfully making a big scene and demonstrating how my cute little Pygmy "goes" on command so that I can clean up after her has embarrassed local rangers enough to leave us alone, but it shouldn't be a hassle to take my goat for a hike.

I think lots of us here at TGS feel the same way. I'm happy to donate what I can to the cause. :)
 

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I posted a rather long reply but it got eaten by cyber space. My nephew is coming in tonight and I am in the middle of holiday madness cooking and cleaning, so I will get back to that later...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
The science between disease transmission from goats to sheep

Here is a link to a peer reviewed scientific paper written by Dr. Rudolph.

http://www.jwildlifedis.org/action/doSearch?searchText=hells+canyon

I will re-type the summary located on page 901 of this paper---

"Because the samples were not obtained from the animals prior to contact, the direction of transmission could not be ascertained with certainty. The fact that identical strains of Pasturella, particularly biovariant 1 P. haemolytica, were isolated from both goats and bighorn sheep is suggestive of transmission of the organisms from goats to bighorn sheep. However, because both the biovariant 1 and Tox A + organisms were limited to the three animals shot on 29 November 1995 and were not isolated from any of the other bighorn sheep in Groups A and B, there is no evidence that those organisms were associated with subsequent disease or deaths. Although we know of no other information regarding transfer of potentially lethal Pasturella spp. between domestic goats and free ranging bighorn sheep, we believe that goats can serve as a reservoir. Thus interactions between the two species should be avoided to prevent Pasturella transmission that could negatively impact the health of bighorn sheep populations.

Pack goats have gained popularity for use on public and private lands. We recommend that individuals with pack goats have total control of their animals when in or near bighorn sheep habitat, both while on the trail and at the campsite. Likewise, we recommend that any bighorn sheep should be driven away from goats to prevent nose-to-nose contact and that nay bighorn sheep that does come into direct contact should be removed from the herd to prevent potential transmission of disease causing organisms to other bighorn sheep."
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
This is an outstanding peer reviewed paper to read if you take the time to read it. It dispels the myths and rumors that are being spread by Game and Fish biologists. The rumor is, is that "there is overwhelming evidence that goats cause catastrophic death amongst Bighorn Sheep populations..." blah blah blah... The truth here that Dr. Rudolph points out, in the Hells Canyon die-off, is that the Groups of Bighorn Sheep that died off 30 km away died of an unrelated organism that was found in the feral goats. She goes on to state that she knows of no other information concerning disease transmission between goats and bighorn sheep.

So where do the Game and Fish biologists come up with their overwhelming evidence that the scientists have been unable to discover???
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
In February of 2012, a carload of us drove through blinding blizzards from northern Utah to Cody, Wyoming to meet with the US Forest Service personnel to discuss our concerns about closing the US Forest Districts in the Wind River Range. At one point in our trip, I remember driving through ground blizzards near South Pass, on the southern end of the Winds, Dave S. asked me,"Charlie, can you see the road?" My reply was, NO!" :) We found the USFS personnel to be cordial and polite, I suspect that they are receiving their direction from the Federal level. We returned in June of the same year to discuss keeping the East side of the Winds open. We had a conference call with Drs from Washington State University that have forgotten more about goats than I will ever know in this lifetime, we had Mr. Bill Myers, our attorney. We laid out a proposal to suggest Best Management Practices that would suggest packgoat owners highline their goats at night, wear a GPS collar in core bighorn sheep areas, etc. We felt that our proposals were consistent with Dr. Rudolph's managment suggestions.

The USFS replied with NO. They want ZERO RISK.

Now that really makes a lot of sense, now that there are mountain goats roaming the countryside in Titcomb Basin, which is in Bighorn Sheep area. What are they going to do with them? They possess organisms that are potentially lethal to bighorn sheep. Do they plan to euthanize them and then place a fence around the Shoshone National Forest, in order to achieve zero risk?

We like the management proposals suggested by Dr. Rudolph and others. Keep our packgoats away from the bighorn sheep. I think I can really accomplish this. I take five or so packgoats deep into the Winds, not thousands of brush goats. I think that I can keep an eye on these five.
 

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Wow, that is so irritating. :( Some of these government types get their kicks wasting their time picking on the little guy. What they're saying is just stupid too. It doesn't sound like they have anything to back up their claim at all and they're not even willing to work out a deal with you guys. It sounds like your proposal was more than fair.

Also, why should a park care about anyone bringing their disease free domesticated goat to a wildlife park? I think the wildlife would pose a bigger threat to their goat than vice versa. Life and death are just a part of nature. If those sheep aren't getting medical attention and are just living naturally then die offs and stuff will happen for whatever reason that happens. That's just how nature rolls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
NAPgA has hired a wonderful attorney in Jackson Wyoming to represent us in our fight. He produced a masterpiece of a document to the Forest Service when it was timely to submit responses to their EIS proposal and their Forest Plan revision proposal.

NAPgA is trying to raise funds to in order to have our attorney to represent us in court, if this goes that far. If we have the cash, I feel that we have more than adequate documentation to argue our case and WIN.

The Llama folks had to deal with this act of Government control back in the 80's and they won.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It has been said that Bighorn Sheep are looking for a place to die. I do not like that, but it appears like they are pretty weak in the first place, in this area of the Winds that the Game and Fish are trying to get them to prosper. Selenium blocks were placed in the wilderness areas and the sheep began to prosper...until the mountain lions figured it out and began to camp out for an easy meal.

It is the ZERO RISK mandate that set off the alarms in my head that this Ban had absolutely nothing to do with logic or sound reasoning. Yes, they are picking on us little guys, and we do not want them to get away with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Bighorn Sheep licenses bring BIG MONEY to States that raise them. So Hunters can pay huge dollars to come in from out of state and kill the biggest and best rams.

Makes a lot of sense, right?
 
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