Proposed packgoat ban in Colorado


Recently a working draft preview came out for the revised forest plan for three major National Forests in southwest Colorado: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison. 


What we learned:
 
– The working plan is currently in pre-draft stage, which means we have a chance to change it before the official objection process begins. The Forest Service is not required to release the plan or take comments during this stage, and I believe the GMUG FS may be the first to ever put a plan out for public input before the official release. This is a rare opportunity! 

– The proposed packgoat ban is coded FW-STND, which is a forest-wide standard. This means packgoats would be banned from anything deemed “bighorn sheep habitat” (which is a huge part of the GMUG) with no flexibility, wiggle-room, or exceptions. Exact wording on page 27:
FW-STND-SPEC-16: To maintain effective separation among species in habitat occupied by bighorn sheep, the use of recreational pack goats and the use of goats and sheep for invasives and/or noxious weed management is prohibited.   

– We have until July 29th to comment on the GMUG plan. These comments provide no standing for the later objection period, however what I think the GMUG folks are trying to do is edit the plan now so they can deal with fewer official objections later on. When the document goes into the objection phase, the FS is required to answer each and every objection. I believe they are trying to avoid some hassle by drafting a plan using public input now to avoid facing backlash later on. We don’t want hassle either, so let’s not miss this chance!

– The GMUG plan includes many allotments for grazing domestic sheep. As much as 2/3rds (1.9 million acres) of the GMUG is designated grazing area. Since grazing sheep continue to be allowed in the proposed plan, there is no logical reason why packgoats should be banned as a way to protect bighorn sheep.    

What to do next: 
– If you live in Colorado (or you really feel like traveling), consider attending one of these open houses to make sure goat packers are represented: 

July 9- Hotchkiss, Heritage Hall, 403 East Bridge Street
July 10- Palisade, Community Center, 120 West 8th Street
July 11- Montrose, Event Center, 1036 North 7th Street
July 16- Norwood, Lone Cone Library, 1455 Pinion St.
July 17- Ridgway, 4H Center and Fairgrounds, 22739 US-550
July 18- Gunnison, Fred Field Western Heritage Center, Van Tuyl Room, 275 South Spruce Street
All open houses are from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. 

– Write a letter 1.) requesting that goat packing be included in the activities important to the GMUG NF which are listed on page8, 2.) that the ban on page 27 be removed, and 3.) that the reference to packgoats on page 143 be removed since packgoats are NOT an example of disease transmission to bighorn sheep (there is not one documented case of a packgoat giving disease to bighorns). Exact wording on page 143: 
To increase awareness, educate partners and visitors of the potential for pathogen transmission affecting native plants and animals (e.g., recreation pack goats and bighorn sheep, the need to decontaminate wading boots to reduce spread of chytrid fungus, or whirling disease, etc.).  

The Forest Service is looking for reasonable, substantive, and unique comments on this forest plan. If you ever visit Colorado, be sure to mention it in your letter since tourism has economic value to the state. Keep in mind that NAPgA sometimes holds Rendevous in Colorado (our 2017 Rendy was held in the Uncompahgre NF). 

Comments can be submitted to:  
gmugforestplan@fs.fed.us     

Or to the online comment form here: 
https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Pu…ject=51806  

Or by old-fashioned paper letter to this mailing address: 
Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests
Attn: Plan Revision Team
2250 South Main Street
Delta, CO  81416

Previously submitted comments can be read here: 
https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Pu…ject=51806

Let’s work together to maintain access to this amazing piece of public land. This is our future! 


2019 REndezvous, buffalo, wy


This year’s Rendezvous in Elgin Park near Buffalo, WY was smaller than Rendys in recent past, but it was a very dedicated group and camaraderie was high. The weather was cold but the scenery was stunning and the location perfectly suited to accommodate humans and packgoats alike.  

On Friday, Marc Warnke of www.packgoats.com gave an outstanding talk on training packgoats and showcased his beautiful Alpine boys, Merciless, Thorn, and Ridge. 

Nancy Clough, with a little help from Nan Hassey, gave a talk on goat first aid, using Carolyn Eddy’s book as a guide.    
On Saturday Charlie Hackbarth of Sopris Unlimited gave a demonstration of his packsaddle system with the help of his daughter Alexa Metrick, Clay Zimmerman of High Uinta Packgoats, and Nan Hassey of Goat-O-Rama with her two goats, Finn and Sputnik. 
Robert and Connie Losee came all the way from Texas! Nan helped them get their Nubian wether, Sprite, started in harness for the first time.   
Nan set up an obstacle course primarily using features from the natural terrain. Almost everyone took their goats through it and it was a fun hit! Here, Finn demonstrates how to be calm while Nan opens an umbrella.  

Dean Kroon’s goat was brave about crossing his first teeter-totter. 
All in all it was a great Rendy. Many thanks to Justin and Desarae Starck for doing all the hard work to scout a location and put it all together! We look forward to Rendy 2020!


Lone Star “hoofenanny” Location update!!


Due to thunderstorms in the area on Saturday, we will be moving to a different camping area with a pavilion. We’re going to be at Ratcliff Lake camping area right off Hwy 7 near Ratcliff, TX. It’s very easy to find and has all the facilities (including electrical hookups, running water, and showers in the bathroom!). We will be all the way at the very end of the lake from the entrance. We have the group camping spot reserved for Friday and Saturday nights for $30/night. It will accommodate up to four families, which should be plenty for our little gathering. For those coming down only for Saturday (no overnight), there is a $5/vehicle day use fee. Please pay it on your way in at the self-pay station so you can get a tag to put in your windshield. 

The rain may put a damper on our lunch hike, but we’ll play by ear and hopefully we’ll be able to get out and do a bit of tromping. Those of us who are there on Friday will be able to participate in a small work project right next to our campsite. It will involve cleaning up brush and weeds around the foundations of the old sawmill so people can explore the old ruins safely. 

If anyone has questions, they can reach me (Nan Hassey) on my cell phone at 719-639-6443

We’ll see you there!


Lone Star hoofenanny


A NAPgA Rendezvous for Texas!

Howdy folks! We’re planning a mini-Rendy for Texas the weekend of April 5-7. We’re meeting at Ratcliff Lake Campground in Davy Crockett National Forest off Hwy 7 near Ratclif, TX , with activities planned for Saturday, April 6th. Come for the weekend or just for the day!

Saturday schedule includes: 9am Packgoat “Meet ’n’ Greet”
– 11am picnic lunch hike + possible trail maintenance/cleanup
– Afternoon seminars, including hoof trimming, saddle fit, training

Please contact Nan Hassey for more info or if you plan to camp overnight: nanhassey@yahoo.com, 719-639-6443

It has come to our attention that the Texas State Parks do not allow goats. This may be the perfect opportunity to start educating the park officials about packgoats. If you live in Texas, please invite your State Park rangers to come Saturday morning. You may print out a flyer HERE: https://www.napga.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/HoofenannyPDF.pdf


2019 Rendy – Save the Date!


Rendy 2019 will be held in Elgin Park, WY June 20-23. Elgin Park is about half an hour west of Buffalo, WY in the Bighorn NF. We do not have a schedule or work project lined out yet, but we will  get those details in place as the date approaches. Please be thinking about donations for the annual Rendy store and auction. This is one of NAPgA’s biggest fundraisers and is only possible through the generosity of our donors. And some of you guys have access to some really cool, unique stuff!


NAPgA meets with The Wild Sheep Foundation in valuable collaborative workshop meeting.


A message from NAPgA President, Curtis King…

I wanted to take a moment to reflect and share with all of you the positive and productive experience we had in meeting with the Wild Sheep Foundation and a panel of experts August 27th and 28th at the Ramada Inn in Spokane WA. During a two-day workshop meeting we took a fresh look at our Best Management Practices, discussing and dissecting the many issues and questions that come up when talking about Goat Packing inside of and around Bighorn Sheep habitat.

With over two hundred years of combined work experience, our panel of eleven participants brought a plethora of knowledge, experience and skill set to the table. Ranging from a seasoned wildlife veterinarian, wildlife conservationists, wildlife biologists, a Veterinary Medical Officer, a veteran research Professor specializing in bacterial agents in domestic animal reservoirs, to seasoned Goat Packers and a Horseman, and we had all the ingredient’s needed to cook up answers to the question:

“How can we safely recreate with our pack goats in and around Bighorn Sheep habitat, and have ‘no contact’ with wild sheep?”

In attendance were the following panel of experts:
1. NAPgA treasure, Larry Robinson
2. NAPgA member, Nancy Clough
3. NAPgA member, Taffy Mercer
4. NAPgA President, Curtis King
5. Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation Executive Director, Steve Kilpatrick
6. Wildlife Biologist, Wildlife consultant, and WSF Professional Resource Advisory Board Member, Tim Schommer
7. Wild Sheep Foundation Director of Conservation, Kevin Hurley
8. ARS, ADRU, Dr. Maggie Highland, Veterinary Medical Officer
9. WSU research Professor, Tom Besser
10. Nevada Department of Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr. Peregrine Wolff
11. Nevada Department of Wildlife Biologist, Mike Cox

The meeting started with a presentation from NAPgA president Curtis King, who shared our vision of “Bullet Proof Goat Packing” through education and awareness, and why a conservation-minded approach to goat packing is paramount. We shared our vision and mission statements along with our strong desire to collaborate with the Wild Sheep Foundation and other wildlife organizations to find common-ground answers focused on sensible, intelligent solutions to safe goat packing. The presentation gave the panel a better understanding of just how small NAPgA’s membership is and a realistic overview of how small the entire goat packing community really is. Less than 1/3 of the packgoat community uses packgoats in Bighorn Sheep habitat.

Kevin Hurley, the vice-President of Conservation & Operations for the Wild Sheep Foundation, gave an overall presentation about the Foundation to include the foundation’s history, past and current wild sheep numbers and their habitat’s, along with WSF’s mission statement and the direction they are headed in putting and keeping wild Sheep on the mountain.

The meeting followed with a presentation from Dr. Tom Besser, Professor at Washington State University and WSU Rocky Crate Chair. Dr. Besser gave an in-depth presentation and overview of the great strides and findings that have been made in M-ovi disease research as it relates to domestic sheep and goats.

Dr. Maggie Highland, Veterinary Medical Officer -Researcher ARS, ADRU, Pullman WA, presented on her research involving pathogen surveillance in pack goats and the overwhelming results of that study showing that M-ovi typically is not present in our pack goats. Dr. Highland also briefly discussed that M-ovi is also being found in samples taken from Dall sheep in Alaska, as well as Bison, Elk, and Whitetail deer in the lower 48.

The remainder of the day was spent breaking down our Best Management Practices and taking an in-depth look at what is really needed in them and what is not. This round table discussion of questions and answers set the stage for Day Two, which involved breaking down some of the language and adding emphasis on the words “No Contact” and “Control”.

We ended the first day with a catered dinner brought to our meeting room and some adult beverages. Having the opportunity to talk amongst ourselves and share some of our thoughts and ideas left all of us with a much better understanding of each other’s background and organizations. We enjoyed the great dinner while watching numerous goat packing videos on the large screen. A very special thank you to Marc Warnke with Packgoats.com for filming and editing some of the most thrilling footage out there of hunting with packgoats and watching them work after a successful hunt.

We started Day Two hitting the chalk board and putting pencil to paper. By the end of mid-morning we had our BMP’s whittled down from eleven to five. We will continue to fine-tune these and the end results will be reposted on our NAPgA website as soon as possible. Some of the main points that came up during this workshop meeting included, “What does a veterinarian checkup really look like?” and, “What can we do to assist the Shoshone National Forest with the pending permit system?”

By doing some of this work now, we can save a lot of headaches, research work, and concerns about what should be involved in a veterinarian inspection of a pack goat prior to being issued a permit into an area where Bighorn Sheep are present. Dr. Peri Wolff was very instrumental and helpful in this area of discussion. We penciled out a list of seven items that should be included in a veterinarian check list. This is a living document and can be added and deleted as needed. We want to be able to present a checklist to give vets a guide of what to look for verses just showing up to your property, looking over the fence at your boys, and saying, “Yep, they look good and healthy. Have a great trip!” Signs your vet- inspection document and leaves.

These included:
1. Physical exam
2. PRT (pulse, respiration, temperature)
3. Check the mouth for sores or lesions
4. Check for symptoms of ORF
5. Check for symptoms of pink eye
6. Check for symptoms of CL
7. Check feet between hooves for infection

We rounded out the day with some homework assignments to complete a template of something we can give to the Forest Service when we meet with them and the planning committee team that will be writing policy for what will be involved in the permit process. NAPgA has been invited to be involved in the design of the permit process and we look forward to being involved with this. Dr. Peri Wolf and Professor T. Besser volunteered to work together on designing a veterinarian checklist that we can use as a draft when we meet with the Shoshone early next year 2019. We are also contacting our local Veterinarians for input on what this might look like.

Other items of discussion involved education and awareness and how NAPgA can use social media and other educational web sites such as Packgoats.com to reach not hundreds but thousands of potential pack goat users, current pack goat users and members of the hunting community. Some discussion was presented of having NAPgA president Curtis King possibly doing a coffee table training video interview with Marc Warnke (Packgoats.com) discussing our BMP’s and what Bullet Proof goat packing really looks like. This type of presentation on education and awareness will spread like wildfire and that folks is what we want. I was very pleased with the outcome of this workshop-meeting and I felt that we not only made great progress but we planted some good seeds and established a positive working relationship with the agencies and organizations that attended. We all have a strong passion for wildlife.

We still have lots of work to do and I personally want to thank all of those that attended and worked with us on this project. We look forward to working with these organizations/agencies and the Shoshone National Forest early next year in the permit planning process.

Thank you everyone for your continued support.
“Long Live The Pack Goat”
Curtis King
President, North American Packgoat Association


NAPgA 2019 Calendar Photo Contest is LIVE!


It’s that time of year for the celebrated annual NAPgA Calendar photo contest! Look through this past year’s photos and pick out your five best. Your goat could be famous in 2019! 

Photo submissions will be taken through September 30th. These are the rules:

-Participants must be current NAPgA members

-Participants must put their name in their photo’s description field.

-Each participant may submit up to five photos.

-To qualify for a calendar page, photos MUST be in landscape orientation and high resolution. High resolution means at least 2500 x 1900 pixels.
If these qualifications are not met, your photo cannot be used for the calendar no matter how many votes it receives! 

Instructions on how to access the Flickr account and upload your photos was emailed to all NAPgA members. If you did not receive this email, please use the contact form to get in touch with us and we’ll make sure you get that information.

Now let’s see those awesome packgoat photos!


North American Packgoat Association