Remember the guy who got gored to death by an angry mountain goat last October in Olympic National Park? Well, that goat apparently had a name -- Klahhane Billy -- and attorneys for the deceased believe that the government should "justly compensate" the man's widow and stepson because they suffered "emotional distress" as a direct result of the incident. The circumstances of the deadly goat attack and Klahhane Billy's "aggressive history" are described in a lawsuit filed earlier this month. The case hinges on whether park rangers were negligent for not killing the "monstrous goat" sooner.
Messina notes that mountains goats are actually "even-toed ungulates similar to antelopes in cattle" that were introduced to the park shortly after it was established in 1938 to develop a herd for hunting. The herd grew to over 1,000 goats by 1983 and by the '90s the Park Service decided to get rid of the critters. They helicoptered some of the goats back to their native environments, then decided to shoot the last 200 or 300 animals because the airlifting process was too dangerous. Messina blames Animal rights groups and "political intervention" for stopping the goat massacre.
"Most of the goats who remained were docile," Messina writes, adding, "There were exceptions." Specifically, Klahhane Billy, "a monstrous goat" that weighed 370 pounds, about 30 percent more than the average male. The goat allegedly hung out near the switchback trail at Klahhane Ridge and "did not show fear of humans and exhibited aggressive behavior toward humans on numerous occasions for four years" prior to the attack on Boardman.
In that encounter, which took place October 16, 2010, Boardman, Chadd and a friend were hiking on Klahhane Ridge when the goat showed up and "began harassing them and making threat displays." The hikers sensed "great terror" and began walking single-file back down the trail. The goat stalked them for about an hour. At some point, for some unexplained reason, Chadd and her friend left Boardman behind with the goat. The animal gored Boardman through his thigh, then stood over his body to keep any would-be rescuers away.
The hikers used a cell phone to call the Park Service, and Messina alleges the rangers "responded very slowly, given the gravity of the situation." However, the attorney says that an off-duty ranger scared the goat away about 30 minutes after the attack by waving a space blanket in the air. A Coast Guard helicopter arrived shortly thereafter, and an EMT tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Boardman.
Park Rangers searched for Klahhane Billy, identified him by the blood on his horns, and shot him to death.
Messina claims that the Park Service committed "negligent acts" by not responding to previous complaints about Klahhane Billy. According to previous reporting by the Peninsula Daily News, Chadd says that her husband "had contacted the park several times because of the goat's aggressive nature." Chief Ranger Colin Smith noted in his report on the incident that, "the goat had exhibited aggressive behavior in the past, including following visitors, blocking the trail and rearing up."
In other words, Klahhane Billy should have been shot long before he had the chance to gore Boardman. Naturally, the Park Service disagrees with that assessment. A judge and jury will ultimately decide who's right.