CASPER, Wyo. — Jewel Dirks started taking goats into the Wind River Range 17 years ago from her home in Riverton. She’d spent her life hiking and backpacking in the granite mountains, but as she grew older she needed a little help carrying her supplies.
A friend suggested pack goats. The little creatures turned out to be exactly what she needed: easy on the land, nimble on rocks, and good friends.
Since then, she’s spent every spring, summer and fall packing into the mountains.
Now if she wants to go, she has to leave her goats at home.
On Monday, the Shoshone National Forest placed a temporary ban on domestic goats in some areas of the Wind River Range until the end of 2013 because of possible disease transmission to bighorn sheep. Even though closures affect the Clarks Fork, Greybull, Wapiti and Wind River ranger districts, most of the impact will be felt in the Wind River Range Whiskey Mountain area and the south Absaroka Range outside of Dubois. This area is ideal for goat packing because of rocky terrain.
Goats will still be allowed in the Washakie Ranger District in the Southern Wind Rivers outside of Lander. Opinions about the ban are split among Western goat packers.