The mountain goats of the Olympic National Forest have grown aggressive, according to reports. Yet again. As anyone who remembers the tale of hiker Bob Boardman surely recalls, aggressive mountain goats are not to be fucked with.
Laugh all you want, but it's probably a wise decision.
In October, 2010 hiker Bob Boardman became the first person ever to die because of an incident involving an animal in Olympic National Park -- gored in the leg by a mountain goat that stalked him for at least a mile. Because Boardman had several previous encounters with aggressive goats while hiking in the area, which he reported to park rangers, his estate subsequently filed more than $10 million worth of wrongful-death and personal-injury claims against the park, contending the beast should have been put down long before Boardman lost his life.
From The Daily Weekly's previous coverage of Boardman's death:
On the afternoon of October 16, 63-year-old Bob Boardman was hiking a trail of switchbacks with his wife Susan Chadd and their friend Pat Willis at Klahhane Ridge, roughly 20 miles south of Port Angeles in Olympic National Park. When the trio paused for lunch, they were joined by an unexpected guest: a surly 370-pound, 8-year-old mountain goat. The goat stalked the hikers, pawed the ground, and bleated menacingly. Boardman, an experienced Olympic National Park outdoorsman and no stranger to confrontations with angry mountain goats, ordered his companions to forge ahead while the animal followed next to him for nearly a mile. Then tragedy struck. The goat lowered his horns and gored Boardman in the thigh, severing his femoral artery. He bled to death within minutes.
Apparently, this time the park rangers aren't taking any chances. And you really can't blame them.
While the reaction this time around may be slightly different than the reaction Boardman's warnings of aggressive goats received, wildlife biologist Kurt Aluzas still tells Q13 that goat attacks are rare.
From the Q13 story:
"Mountain goats are powerful, inquisitive, wild animals, but they are not generally aggressive by nature," said wildlife biologist Kurt Aluzas. "We believe their recent behavior is because this year's deep snowpack has confined the goats to trailside areas in combination with a seasonally high demand for minerals [salts] and their habituation to people. There is also the potential that the nanny goats are being protective of their young."
What if you do encounter an aggressive mountain goat? A spokeswoman with Olympic National Park explains "goat hazing," a tactic that park rangers advise all hikers use when they encounter mountain goats on the trails.
"The rule of thumb at all times is to stay at least 50 yards away from goats and really all wildlife," says Olympic National Park spokeswoman Barb Maynes. "But if a goat approaches, then we recommend chasing the animal away by yelling, waving arms and coats, and throwing rocks. Then report it to the nearest ranger station immediately. If actions like throwing rocks and yelling don't work, then retreat."
According to Q13's report, the upper and lower portions of Mount Ellinor Trail #812 will remain closed for at least two weeks, hopefully giving the goats a chance to simmer down.
Note: The original version of this story incorrectly listed "Olympic National Park" in the headline. The trail closure is in the Olympic National Forest. We apologize for this mistake.