The McKendrick goat herd has declined dramatically. (Contributed photo)

The McKendrick goat herd has declined dramatically. (Contributed photo)

Valley couple spreads passion for goat preservation

Tom catches up with Jim and Leesa Easterday and their mountain goat mission

I finally had a chance to catch up with Jim Easterday and his wife Leesa. A very nice couple, living on a five-acre view lot just outside of Smithers.

I wanted to get some personal info on Jim like where did you come from, how did you get here, but no, he wanted to talk about their passion, mountain goats. Jim and his Leesa have been around the valley for the past 50 years or so and have climbed most of the mountains from Terrace to Houston in search of goats.

I was not aware that Jim and a group of goat enthusiasts started the B.C. Mountain Goat society back in 2012. This society has expanded throughout Canada and the U.S. Their mandate is to raise the profile of the mountain goats through research and education. The group have many interesting and unique videos filmed in Smithers available on the website bcnorth.ca

Jim was telling me that there are goats around most alpine areas as long as there are cliffs close at hand where they can scramble to when in danger from predators.

It seems the most complicated predator is you and me. Not that we are trying to destroy the mountain goat directly. It is through our continual intrusion into their habitat that we are affecting their survival.

A prime example is the McKendrick herd along Babine Road. There has been a steady decline in numbers over the past several years as hikers and sledders have gained more access to the area. This specific site has a fairly small alpine area and generally when we arrive the goats are forced to the cliffs for protection.

We can interrupt their feeding and resting times and it seems to have affected their mortality.

I know that for me some of the most exciting moments living in the valley is seeing animals. I think we all have this feeling and if there is something we can do to improve the health of the wild animals we should be prepared to do it.

Jim and his group have determined that the McKendrick herd is in decline. Their counts have fallen from a high of 22 to a low of 8. It now seems emergency measures are needed to help the herd recover and a mandatory closure of that specific area is needed.

Jim says in other areas where there are larger alpine footprints, allowing the goats more habitat, the goats can be thriving.

I enjoyed meeting this thoughtful man with a quick smile and laugh. His passion to give a voice to the goats is infectious.

We are fortunate to have people who want to pass on this amazing place to our children and grandchildren intact with wild animals and clean water. If you have a story to tell, call me at 250-877-1806 or drop me an email tr.ranch@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Tom.