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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 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 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 ( 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!

Goats Help Carry the Load During Hiking Trips

Published in Ellensburg Daily Record
Photos: Brian Myrick / Daily Record

Hikers venturing out in the Kittitas Valley might encounter familiar landscape — canyons, hills, sagebrush and shrub steppe.

They might also find something unexpected: five goats with pack saddles following docilely behind Dick Carkner.

Stitches, Inky, Lightning, Rambo and Thor are pack goats raised by Carkner to help carry gear during hiking trips. They follow behind Carkner, over trails and across country, hopping over gullies and displaying the athleticism their species is known for.

Carkner raised all five by hand, bottle-feeding them as kids, which is an important step in raising a pack goat, he said.

“It doesn’t take much training, the main thing is to have them properly socialized,” he said. “It’d be hard to find adult goats that have what you need.”

A good pack goat is well socialized and comfortable around people, which allows a pack goat handler to strap the saddles on to them without much fuss.

“You’re their mother, parent, dad, whatever,” he said.

Goats are naturally inclined to herd and will stay grouped together and follow their handler by instinct. Well socialized goats will be comfortable around humans. It can be a bit of a challenge when Carkner runs into other people out on the trail, though.

“I’ll stop and get talking to some people and then we go to move on, I look back and I’ve lost a goat,” he said, laughing.

Carkner began raising and working with pack goats a decade ago after being introduced the practice by his son. Since then, he’s had a number of goats. Inky, Lightning, Rambo and Thor are his newest group. The four are 3 years old, born in the same year and have just reached their prime.

Stitches is an older goat, 10 years old, and is the boss of the group.

“It’s a very distinct pecking order,” Carkner said, with the hierarchy being decided between the goats themselves.
When out hiking, the goats will typically follow in the same order every time, with the boss goat in front and the rest falling into their spots behind.

Besides their natural inclination to stay grouped together and follow their handler, goats are well suited as pack animals due to their natural athleticism.

“They can go places that wouldn’t be safe for a horse,” Carkner said.

Goats are also similar to deer and can graze on more plants than a horse could and don’t require as much water. Each adult goat can carry up to 25 percent of its body weight, which usually is around 50 pounds. However, Carkner usually keeps the loads to about 30 pounds.

“We don’t want to push it,” he said.

The loads are put into specially designed saddle bags that attach to goat-specific saddles that are strapped into place on the goat’s back. They are designed to stay in place when going over steep terrain.

The saddles and bags can be found online for purchase through a number of pack goat websites. The practice, while not widely-known, has been around for a number of years and has a strong community.

The North American Pack Goat Association was founded in 1999 and works to spread education about pack goats and keep public land open to pack goat use.

A pack goat will typical cost about $200 to purchase from a breeder, Carkner said. In a year, they will typically go through anywhere from $500 to $700 worth of feed and the saddles and gear can cost several hundred dollars as well.

The investment is worth it though, as each goat can continue to hike into their teens, as evidenced by Stitches, who is still going strong at 10 years old.

Goats, like dogs, wiggle their tails when they’re happy, Carkner said, and he sees it often when he’s out on the trail with his goats.

“This is what they like to do,” he said.

Urgent Message from President Curtis King

ATTENTION: To all current NAPgA and non-current NAPgA members, and all goat packing enthusiasts.

AN URGENT message from the President.

First, I would like to thank everyone that responded in writing to the comments on the ROD and EIS pertaining to the use of pack goats on the Shoshone NF in Wyoming during the open comments period. As most of you are already aware NAPgA has been in a long- standing battle over an illegal pack goat ban on the Shoshone National Forest. During this lengthy process NAPgA won a lawsuit against the Shoshone National Forest in 2016 when Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled in our favor. The Forest Service was ordered to go back to the drawing board, meet with NAPgA and write up a new “Risk Analysis of Disease Transmission” and “Environmental Impact Statement”.

During the summer of 2017, NAPgA representatives and our attorney Andrew Irvine met with The Shoshone NF, WY Department of Game and Fish, The Wild Sheep Foundation and The WSF Wyoming sheep working group in several pivotal meetings in Lander WY that resulted in a compromise that both sides could live with. NAPgA agreed to a pack goat closure in six critical core sheep habitat areas within the Shoshone with a possible corridor going around these core areas. The compromise was agreed to as most of the northern core areas are Grizzly Bear territory and were NOT COMMONLY USED AREAS by goat packers in Wyoming and nearby states.

The comments period has closed and the Regional Forester Brian Ferebee for the Shoshone National Forest has reached a decision. The plan calls for the closure of pack goats within the six described core Bighorn Sheep Habitat areas that are home to the most pristine Bighorn Sheep herds on the continent. They cannot be replaced.

The surrounding areas as well as the remainder of the Shoshone National Forest will remain open to goat packing with the requirement of a use permit and compliance of BMP’s Best Management Practices that will be issued by the Forest Service. NAPgA has asked to be involved in developing what the Permit process will look like and our request has been accepted.

NAPgA recently filed an objection to some of the language in the RADT, SDEIS plan during the objection process. NAPgA did not object to the forest plan. NAPgA did however object to a good portion of the language in the plan as it pertains to

the science. The best available science and the science referred to in the plan does not support that our pack goats are dangerous or pose any kind of a disease transmission risk to Bighorn Sheep. Andrew Irvine NAPgA’s very talented attorney wrote our objection letter to the forest service. The objection document is an absolute “masterpiece” and I encourage all of you to read and review it. The document is posted for your viewing located on the NAPgA website at

Folks, we are about enter the most critical and pivotal meeting that will most likely ever happen as it relates to your rights to use pack goats on public lands now and in the future. What happens in this meeting and in the objection process will pave the way for what happens with goat packing in the future with other forests and forest plans pertaining to pack goats. We have the summit in sight. Its within our grasp. We need your support to reach the top and stake our flag.

NAPgA has depleted most of our finances getting this far with so many legal fees that come along with such a legal battle in our continuing fight to keep public lands open to goat packing. I feel it is critical to our cause to have Andy present in this next objection meeting with the forest service. We anticipate that the next objection process meeting will take place in mid to late April of this year in Cody Wyoming. The cost for our legal services to get Andy and our objection letter to this next critical meeting will be approximately $1800 dollars. Without depleting our savings, we are about $1200 short of this amount. Your president and your board members strongly feel that that this is our last chance and final push to see all anecdotal and non-scientific references to pack goat disease transmission removed from these official government documents. The falsehoods need to stop. Any restrictions must be based on documented, factual research and peer-reviewed science, not hearsay, anecdotes and conjecture.

If you would like to see NAPgA continue this legal battle with the Shoshone, please consider donating to help us send Andy to the objection meeting in Cody. No amount is too small. If you know any pack goat enthusiast who have not yet renewed their memberships, please contact them and encourage them to join. There is strength in numbers and the membership fees go a long way toward helping pay these expenses. With that being said, your president is now “passing the hat” to all of you. We currently have 157 current members. If I can ask for just $10.00 from each member we can raise enough money to cover this expense by late April. Please help us obtain a victory for goat packing. We can do this and we will.

Donations can be made here: Donate | NAPgA
Here is the link for membership sign-ups:

Anyone can make a donation by either visiting our website using the PayPal, or send a check to:

NAPgA Treasurer
13 Norwood Pl.
Boise, ID 83716

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

Andy Irvine’s Response to Shoshone RADT and EIS

NAPgA’s lawyer, Andy Irvine, recently put together a wonderful response to the Shoshone NF Risk of Disease Transmission and Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Study, which both contained faulty science to justify banning packgoats from Bighorn Sheep territory. Every issue brought up in the Shoshone documents is addressed in detail. This is a long document but well worth the read. This is one of the things NAPgA’s money pays for, and the comments may well be applied to similar situations as they arise in other areas. Click the link below to access the full document.

Andy Irvine Comments

NAPgA Calendar 2018 Photo Contest!

Time to look through this year’s trips and submit your best photos for the NAPgA calendar contest! Photo submissions will be taken through Septemer 30th. Here’s how to do it:
Rules of the contest:
– 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 voting, photos MUST be in landscape orientation and high resolution. High resolution means at least 3300 x 2550 pixels.
– If these qualifications are not met, your photo cannot be used for the calendar no matter how many votes it receives! 
Here’s how to enter:
Go to
Sign in at top right with:
Username: napgaphotos
Password: calendar2018
(You may have to sign out of your current Yahoo! account or use an incognito window in order to do this).
Upload photos by clicking the little cloud and arrow icon in the top right corner.
Each person may upload up to five photos.
After your photos are uploaded, click the “Albums” link in the middle of the page. Click the “Create new album” link found to the right of the existing albums.
A line of photos will appear along the bottom of the page. Drag your photos into your album. Put your name in the album title so we know who submitted the photos.
Once your photos are in the album, click on each photo and add a title and description. In the description field please put the location where the photo was taken. You may also add names of goats, etc. if you like.
If you have any questions or trouble using the Flickr site, please contact
Now let’s see those awesome packgoat photos!


August Newsletter – Shoshone Comment Period Ends Soon!

Time is running out to comment on the latest Shoshone Environmental Impact Statement proposing to ban packgoats. This is important! The rules implemented in Shoshone will likely affect land use plans and decisions all over the West. NOW is the time to act! Please read the newsletter for information about how to comment on these proposals. If we stand back and say nothing, we have no right to complain when we get shut out.

CLICK HERE to download the newsletter.