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The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources plans to introduce Rocky Mountain goats to Mount Nebo, according to information sent to Juab and Utah County commissioners by Jordan C. Pederson, regional supervisor.

The commissioners were to respond only if they had questions or objections. "I would have submitted this directly to the Juab County Landowner/Wildlife Committee, but I did not know who the current chairperson is," said Pederson."I don't see any reason to respond," said Gordon Young, commission chairman.

Bighorn sheep were transplanted to the region approximately 10 years ago and, apparently, did not survive.

"On Mount Nebo there is only a small chance that any Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep still exist. slightly more than 40 bighorns were transplanted to Mount Nebo in 1981 and 1982," said Pederson.

Following two years of moderate increase, the population has steadily declined. "No bighorns were seen during 1995. It is doubtful if any remain. The DWR considers this reintroduction effort a failure, primarily due to excessive predation, a very hard winter in 1983-84 and the basic unsuitability of the mountain's winter range," said Pederson.

"Sheep are simply not able to use the extreme terrain that goats routinely occupy," he said.

Pederson said the mountainous area, representing the southernmost extension of the Wasatch Mountain, is the only location where the mountain goats are approved for transplant where they do not already exist.

The Utah State Wildlife Board approved a statewide management plan for the Rocky Mountain goats in February 1996.

"Mount Nebo is excellent habitat and has high potential for a flourishing population of goats," said Pederson. "Based on experience gained elsewhere in the Wasatch Mountains, it could easily support a population density equal to that on Mount Timpanogos. Virtually all of the potential habitat is within a designated wilderness area on national forest system lands administered by the Uinta National Forest."

Pederson said the transplant stock will come from Box Elder Peak and Mount Timpanogos. Approximately 15 to 20 goats will be transplanted - one-third of which will be males and two-thirds females at least 1 year old. "Capture effort would primarily concentrate on the large nursery groups of females, kids and young males that frequent the open alpine areas in July and August," said Pederson.

The preferred capture method will use a helicopter with a manually fired "netgun." The method has minimum effect on forest resources and is the least stressful to captured goats.

The DWR will attach radio telemetry collars to conduct a research project now in the proposal stage. "The total number of goats netted would probably be as many as 35," he said.

"At Mount Nebo, there is a non-wilderness corridor where motor vehicles can go and where goats might be successfully released," said Pederson. The area is located at the head of Mona-Pole Canyon on the Privateer Mine road. The option could result in goats taking up residence on Bald Mountain or even Dry Mountain.

A release in late summer or early fall allows newly transplanted animals to get used to the new habitat well before the onset of winter.

"During the spring-fall period, goats can be expected to utilize virtually all of the alpine habitat on Mount Nebo proper," Pederson said. There are numerous areas of ledge and cliff habitat in the six large basins that face east and west on the highest part of the mountain.

The nearby open basin will become an important foraging area. "These areas, especially those on the east side, contain large amounts of forage, which currently receive no or very little grazing use," he said.

"Based on experience gained from observing the goat population on Mount Timpanogos, a somewhat smaller population can be expected to develop on Mount Nebo," said Pederson. The Nebo population might be as large as 130 total goats.

Because mountain goat habitat is so unique and topographically extreme, the probability of goats coming into direct contact with or utilizing the same foraging areas as cattle or sheep is very remote, Pederson said.