Photo: Ullstein Bild (Getty Images)

The mountain goats, unjustly confined to the earth for too long, have finally begun to fly. Look up and you may even see them for yourself—goats, magnificent goats, flying across the sky like slit-pupiled angels; goats like the face of heaven itself smiling down with horns cocked to one side and silly little goat beards swaying in the wind.

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As part of a relocation program meant to move mountain goats from Washington’s Olympic National Park to more hospitable areas in the Cascade Mountains, workers have been rounding up the fuzzy misfits, sedating them, and putting them in transportation slings flown by helicopters.

The Associated Press has a story about the flight of the goats that includes photos of the process and details the whole story of why, exactly, those in certain areas of the West Coast may have seen small herds of sleepy mammals passing overhead. Humans, it turns out, brought them to “remote parts of the park” back in the 1920s. The region has “few natural salt licks,” which means it’s “more likely goats there will be attracted to the sweat, urine, and food of hikers, potentially endangering the hikers.” The program was started last summer after “a years-long stretch of planning and public comment, with 115 of the roughly 725 mountain goats in the Olympics being moved to the Cascades.”

For two weeks, animal experts with the decidedly threatening job titles of “gunner” and “mugger” have captured the goats so they can be tranquilized, have their horns and eyes covered, and majestically swung on over to their new home. 17 were found on Monday and Tuesday and one of them, “a kid about 6 weeks old” apparently “got a ride on a mugger’s lap inside the helicopter instead of hanging beneath it,” which is a nice detail.

Assured that the program is for the goat’s benefit and not our own idle amusement, we can rest easy simply enjoying the sight of the wonderful creatures flying through the sky. After thousands of years climbing to the highest points of mountains across the world, the goats are finally achieving the implicit goal of their species by taking to the air. Sure, they’re doing it with dope-fuzzed brains and swinging around on giant hammocks, but completing a goal is something to celebrate, no matter how it’s done.

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