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Fireside chat highlights peninsula's mountain goats

Hunter Morrison

The Kenai Watershed Forum is hosting its annual Fireside Chats speaker series, which highlights local presenters involved with environmental, outdoor or recreational projects. Last week’s event featured Dom Watts, a biologist and pilot with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The presentation highlighted his work studying mountain goat populations and their habitats on the Kenai Peninsula.

Watts says mountain goats are the least studied large mammal in the United States due to the harsh environments they live in. He studies habitats on the peninsula that have gone largely unchecked, including coastal regions near Seward and mountainous regions near Moose Pass. He says numerous environmental factors make accurately surveying mountain goat populations via airplane difficult, including rock formations, snow and sun.

Watts’ research also focuses on seasonal movements, reproductive rates and disease among mountain goat populations on the peninsula. He says human disturbances can easily impact these factors. Even so, he says that mountain goat populations are increasing in many areas across the peninsula.

The next and final presentation in the Fireside Chat series will be held this Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Kenai River Brewing Company in Soldotna. The presentation will highlight the work of the Kenai Watershed Forum and Trout Unlimited Alaska in mapping anadromous streams and lakes across the Kenai Peninsula.

Hunter Morrison is a news reporter at KDLL