Aggressive Mountain Goats Force Washington Trail Closure

mountain goat

As anyone who ever spent time around a goat knows, those suckers can get ornery. Some hikers came up against some angry mountain goats in Northern Idaho recently which caused wildlife officials to close the trail.

The U.S. Forest Service closed a portion of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest after reports of mountain goats biting, head-butting and charging hikers. Visitors to the Scotchman Peak Trail have apparently been feeding the animals and in some cases allowing them to eat from their hands, according to the Associated Press. This type of behavior causes the animals to behave more boldly.

“This temporary closure is intended to allow time for the goats to find other sources of food beyond the handouts from hikers, and to reduce their willingness to approach humans,” said Forest Service spokesman Jason Kirchner according to a press release.  “The service has not scheduled a date to reopen the trail.”

This wasn’t the first time hikers have been attacked by angry goats. In June, a hiker was bitten by a mountain goat and suffered wounds that required multiple stitches. In the most severe case, a hiker in 2010 died from injuries suffered after being gored in Washington’s Olympic National Park.

One of the reasons goats continue to seek humans is that it satisfies the animal’s salt cravings by licking human skin.

“Feeding wild animals is dangerous and selfish behavior,” said former Fish and Game biologist Mary Terra-Berns, pointing out that it not only puts the person in danger but affects others as well. Anyone visiting nature is always advised never to feed wildlife.

Photo credit: Dreamstime