Forest officials have banned domestic goats from parts of Shoshone National Forest. Officials say they're concerned about goats spreading diseases to wild bighorn sheep. But some goat owners say the Forest Service is over-reacting.
Charles Jennings with the National Pack Goat Association uses goats to carry gear for fly fishing trips and other outings, and he says his animals are closely monitored.
“We worm them annually; we take good care of them; we get health certificates," Jennings said. "And we typically only bring two to 15 at any one time. A lot of us are middle aged, and we do it so that we no longer have to carry forty, fifty, sixty-pound backpacks.”
Jennings says the evidence that goats are infecting big horn sheep isn’t convincing.“There has not been any peer-reviewed data that supports that claim against domestic goats as there is against domestic sheep,” he said.
Jennings says in fact the opposite is true. He cites a 1994 study which found that no big horn sheep died when they were placed in a pen with goats.
He says instead of banning goats outright, the Forest Service should simply require that the animals be tied up at night and kept on a line during the day so they can’t wander off and mingle with big horn sheep.