A small plane flies over the green ridges near Valdez. The ridges and mountains are flanked by stunning glaciers, and to the south, the blue waters of Prince William Sound. A biologist aboard the plane is conducting a survey of mountain goats in the area, and she's counted 235 creamy-white goats against the green alpine in this 2018 aerial survey. That helps determine how many goats hunters will be allowed to harvest in this area in the upcoming hunting season. To insure that the harvest remains sustainable, wildlife managers limit the number of goats that may be taken in a defined area, and successful hunters must report their harvest within a few days. In this area in 2018, for example, a total of 12 goat units may be taken. Not 12 goats, but 12 goat units - a billy counts for one, and a nanny counts for two. Nannies are critical to sustaining the population.
Although the goat hunting season here could potentially last from mid-September to the end of January, the biologist can close it as soon as the harvest quota is reached. In 2018, the harvest quota was reached in less than two weeks, and the hunt was closed. Careful monitoring and management will insure goat hunting opportunity in future years.