Officials increase watch on mountain goats
by AMANDA WINTERS
Olympic National Park officials continue to keep an eye on the mountain goat population near Klahhane Ridge after a full-grown male mountain goat killed a Port Angeles man Oct. 16.
Park spokesman Barb Maynes said wildlife biologists and park rangers are looking for aggressive behavior in the animals after one of them fatally injured 63-year-old Robert Boardman.
Boardman was hiking with his wife and a friend when he stayed behind to try to shoo the mountain goat away. Instead, it charged him and gored him through the thigh. He was airlifted off the trail and pronounced dead at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.
"In the research that we've done in connecting with mountain goat biologists, this is an extremely unusual event and so we are just trying to learn as much as possible about it so we can move forward and prevent anything like this from happening in the future," she said.
Over the summer park rangers patrolled the Klahhane Ridge trail area four to five times a week, she said.
"We've been aware of the fact that hikers and park staff have seen these more aggressive types of behaviors (in the mountain goats)," she said, listing the behaviors as following, approaching closely and not leaving the trail.
Since the mountain goats look the same for the most part, it is impossible to know if the goat that killed Boardman is the same goat mentioned in previous reports, she said.
The mountain goat, which probably weighed around 300 pounds, was shot by rangers and examined by a veterinary pathologist to determine if there were any diseases that could have caused the mountain goat to act so aggressively, she said. A preliminary report is expected later in the week.
The Klahhane Ridge trail remains open and hikers are warned to stay 100 feet away from wildlife, she said.
"Any time you're in the park, the rule of thumb always is to stay 100 feet away from any wild animals," she said. "All wildlife is unpredictable."
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.