Blindfolded mountain goats are being flown in slings dangling from helicopters in a US national park.
Officials at the Olympic National Park in Washington are relocating the goats to the Cascade Mountains, where they belong. Humans introduced them to the park in the 1920s.
The animals are sedated with darts or captured in nets. Then they are blindfolded and flown in the slings to a staging area. From there, they are checked by vets and fitted with tracking collars before being driven to the Cascades.
Upon arrival, they are once again flown by helicopter to their new alpine habitats.
The relocation scheme began in 2018, following years of planning and public comment, with 115 of the roughly 725 mountain goats being moved to the Cascades.
Officials captured 17 on Monday and Tuesday at the start of the two-week relocation period, including a kid about six weeks old, which got a ride on an official’s lap inside the helicopter instead of hanging beneath it.
“Mountain goat relocation will allow these animals to reoccupy historical range areas in the Cascades,” said Jesse Plumage, a US Forest Service wildlife biologist.
The capture of the goats was contracted out to Leading Edge Aviation, a company that specialises in animal capture and relocation.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to release the goats at six sites in the Cascades.