Facing an uphill battle to tame America’s feral goats
The federal government is trying to get the feral goats back on the endangered species list, and a bill in Congress could do just that.
But it may face fierce resistance from some animal rights groups.
And there are serious questions about whether Congress should pass legislation that would strip the animals of protections.
The Feral Goat Conservation Act of 2018 is designed to address a growing number of feral goat incidents in which animals have been shot, mauled, or electrocuted by handlers.
In some instances, the handlers have been charged with serious animal cruelty.
Last year, an Ohio man was charged with first-degree animal cruelty after he shot a wild goat, causing it to bleed profusely.
More recently, a Wyoming man was arrested after he and his wife accidentally shot a feral goat while attempting to escape the state’s wildlife refuge.
(Read about the wildlife refuge incident in the new book Wild: A New Generation of Wild Animals.)
“I know the people of Ohio and Wyoming, the people in Pennsylvania and Washington, are concerned about this issue,” Catherine Woodruff, a wildlife ecologist and co-founder of the WildAid nonprofit, told me.
“They don’t want to lose any of their resources.”
But if Congress passes the FGA, the animals could be lost forever.
“It’s going to be a real mess,” Woodruff said.
Woodyard said the FAGCA would effectively make it illegal for federal officials to kill or capture wild animals and would also severely restrict how the government responds to animal cruelty cases.
“They could potentially put a gag order on the wildlife agency,” Woodruff said, referring to a provision that allows a person to be charged with animal cruelty if a law enforcement agency or agency of the federal government does not cooperate with federal authorities.
She also said that if Congress passed the FGC, the Department of Agriculture would be responsible for keeping track of any new cases of wild animals being shot or maulned.
FGA language in the bill could also make it more difficult for the Department of Agriculture to implement a proposed rule to end the practice of killing wild animals.
If Congress passes FGA and President Donald Trump signs it, wild animals could also be put on the protected species list.
A group of federal lawmakers in the House have introduced the FGRA to try to get rid of the FGGCA.
“This legislation is an attempt to restore the species’ status as a threatened species,” Rep. Joe Pitts, a Maryland Democrat, said in a statement.
As a congressman from Pennsylvania, Pitts said, he was deeply concerned about the plight of the wild animals that he saw.
“There are too many people out there that are not protecting these animals, and if we don’t act now, there’s a very real possibility that we’re going to see a decline in wild animals,” Pitts told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
According to a spokesperson for the House Natural Resources Committee, Reps.
Mike Coffman and Pat Meehan, the Republican representatives who are co-sponsoring the bill, were asked about the potential effects of passing the FGTCA.
Coffman and Meehans spokesperson, Lauren Karp, declined to comment to the Washington Post.
“We are working with all parties in Congress to bring this legislation to the floor, including the President,” Karp said in a statement.
Reporter Allison Miller can be reached at [email protected]