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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Barron: Scientists Aren’t Out to Get Your Goat


Controversy in Utah often looks like the designation of Bears Ears National Monument, the arrest of Alex Wubbles or the replacement of Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott; however, It can also look like a herd of goats.  

In 2013, officials from Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) introduced mountain goats to the La Sal Mountains in eastern Utah, and herds have thrived in the alpine environment. Claiming success, wildlife officials are now pushing to revive the Deep Creeks goat population which went extinct during the last ice age. By increasing the goat population in Utah, we are welcoming the 900 billion dollar big game industry and are creating ‘postcard’ experiences for tourists. However, scientists and environmentalists do not laud La Sal as a success. The goats destroyed many of the mountains’ delicate plant systems which work to prevent erosion, and they foresee similar issues in Juab County. Sadly, their concerns were not voiced at the Wildlife Board when the DWR presented their proposal to transplant goats to new areas of Utah. This is not unexpected; ignoring climate scientists and environmentalists is an alarming trend in our society. If you are skeptical of science, especially climate science, you ought to consider the benefits of science on all of modern life, instead of waiting for the potentially devastating consequences of ignoring it.

Cavemen discovering fire is an exhausted museum trope, but this initial step in controlling our environment was incredibly important. Now we have central cooling and heating which keep us comfortable, despite our state’s dry heat and powder snow. During one of my summer semesters here at the U, the campus AC broke mid-July. Class was cancelled until the cooling was fixed as it was unbearable to listen to lectures in 103 degree weather.

The most important scientific advancement was not the creation of the internet or development of nuclear warheads, but agriculture. Being an agrarian society is the backbone of modern living as it supports permanent settlements, like Salt Lake City. Scientists have continued research in agriculture since the population boomed. To create more reliable harvests, fertilizers were developed to protect crops while genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were designed to be sturdier. Farming equipment and sprinkler systems allow farms to be scaled exponentially from your family’s garden to hundreds of acres.

If you have ever played The Oregon Trail, you probably died of dysentery. Dysentery was one of the leading causes of death for American pioneers. Today, however, there are only 30,000 annual cases in the United States each year and very few lead to loss of life. This rapid decrease in dysentery and many other deadly diseases can be attributed to modern medicine developed, infrastructure for waste disposal and water sanitation systems.

DWR officials called their La Sal species introduction an ‘experiment,’ but they are unwilling to consider all the results in their conclusions. Humans are dependent on their environment. Therefore we must listen to scientific authorities, consider their data and understand their conclusions. Our society has been positively impacted by scientific discovery immemorial, and we need to continue respecting the field even when it is inconvenient. While there is always a chance there will be no long term impact of introducing mountain goats in Deep Creeks, when considering the potential devastation these goats may cause on our natural environment, the risk is not worth any economic gain.

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About the Contributor
Morgan Barron, Opinion Writer
Morgan Barron is an opinion writer. Barron has written for the Daily Utah Chronicle since August 2017. A Utah native, Barron has always been interested in local politics and how lawmakers' decisions and actions affect Utahns. Joining the Chrony was a non-obvious choice for a mechanical engineer, but she believes joining the paper rounded out her STEM education to make her a more effective communicator and engineer.

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