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Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe of Washington

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The 200-member tribe put together a group that includes the U.S. Forest Service, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service to try save cliff-dwelling mountain goats dying in the North Cascades. "If the goats were gone, we would lose everything,'' tribal elder Katherine Joseph, 86, said. Tribal members traditionally used their wool to make clothes and horns for utensils and ceremonial objects. No one is certain why mountain goats have been dying off. Only 100 to 120 are left in the Darrington Ranger District. Some possible factors: predation by cougars, hunting, displacement from prime habitat by hikers and logging, and a reduction in old-growth forests. There are tribal and state bans on hunting, some area roads are closed to snowmobiles in the winter and salt blocks laced with medication for goat parasites are placed in some areas. A tribal team spent a week in the mountains collecting data on the herd to help win government funding for further research. "The goat has a special place for my family,'' said James Joseph, 61, the eldest man in the Mountain Goat Clan and a former tribal chairman. "Goats are high in the hills, and our people believe these are clean spirits.''

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