There’s nothing that will get the blood pumping like climbing a mountain on a brisk winter’s day with the intent of protecting mountain goats and motorists.
Jetson Gibbs, 17, and Zane Gibbs, 14, strapped 50-pound salt licks to their backs and trotted up the mountain with fellow sportsmen association member Doug Boult.
“It wasn’t so bad,” Zane Gibbs said with a smile after getting back to the base of the mountain.
This marks the third year Zane has performed the task and the first for his brother Jetson.
“It was good,” Jetson said.
The Keremeos-Cawston Sportsmen Association took on the task of putting salt licks up the mountain four years ago.
“By putting the salt licks up there it keeps the goats off the road,” Norm Parkin, sportsmen association director said. “They don’t come down in the winter to lick the salt off the road because they have it up there.”
The salt licks are placed at a plateau on the mountain side just outside of Olalla.
Prior to the salt licks being placed about a kilometre up, mountain goats were being hit quite regularly on the road below.
In the last three years none have been struck.
“We originally started with three different spots but we found they went to this one. It took awhile for them to figure out it was there,” Parkin said.
The initiative is a joint program between the sportsmen association and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations.
At one time it was suggested a fence be put along the stretch of highway where mountain goats were being hit most often.
“It would have been unsightly. The salt is a better solution. They don’t really come down at all,” Parkin said.
The spot is used regularly by the mountain goats. Three 50 pound salt licks were placed in the exact same spot last year and just little pieces remain.
The Keremeos-Cawston Sportsmen Association also performs a mountain goat count each spring. They cover areas locally around Cawston, Keremeos and Olalla up to Apex and through to Princeton.
They’ve done the count for the last 15 years or so.
“The goats are holding on quite good,” Parkin said. “The sheep of course are struggling. The last three years a lot of them have contracted a disease like a mange. They aren’t doing so well.”
For more information about the Keremeos-Cawston Sportsmen Association and the important work they do visit www.k-csa.com.