“Olympic National Park visitors are reminded to stay at least 50 yards away from mountain goats and other park wildlife at all times. Park regulations state that all visitors must maintain a distance of at least 50 yards, or half the length of a football field, between themselves and any park wildlife. If any animal approaches closer than 50 yards, visitors should move away to maintain the minimum distance.”
That is an excerpt of a press release issued by ONP officials on July 8th, 2016. As many of you probably know, I have been preaching this all year. Starting in the spring, I had been shocked and horrified by the lackadaisical attitude of people getting too close to wildlife in Olympic. People were posting pictures of themselves just feet from goats on social media, bragging about how they lured in goats by peeing on rocks, or saying how they could have petted one. For many who see mountain goats in Olympic, it seems like they assume that mountain goats are calm and safe, cuddly and sweet. They are not. They are wild animals and have killed someone in the park before.
In recent years, we have covered goat incidents, goat safety and even tried to encourage people to make better decisions about wildlife encounters. You can read out mountain goat rules and safety post here, or watch the National Park’s wildlife safety and a video about hiking with mountain goats here.
In 2010, a mountain goat fatally gored a visitor who was hiking in the Hurricane Ridge area of Olympic National Park.Mountain goats are unpredictable and their sharp horns and powerful bodies can inflict significant and lethal injuries with ease. Mountain goats have been responsible for trail closures on the Olympic Peninsula numerous times in the past decade, yet people still don’t give them the space that they need. National park regulations state that visitors should stay at least 50 yards away, and keep a close eye on children to insure that they also maintain a safe distance. That means that if a goat is on the trail, wait for it to move. If a goat is at a summit, stay off the summit.
“Mountain goats are wild animals and capable of causing serious injury or even death,”said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “People should always maintain a distance of at least 50 yards from any park wildlife.”
According to Olympic National Park officials, the most recent mountain goat census was conducted in summer 2011 and showed that the population had increased by approximately 5% per year since 2004. With increasing numbers of goats in the park, there is increased likelihood that visitors will see or encounter goats. Another census is planned for later this month and will provide a current estimate of mountain goat numbers in the park.
As always, give animals their distance and remember that you are hiking in their homes. If they are in an area, you might have to turn around or make other plans. If you encounter goats, keep your distance and be willing to bail on your plans. Worst case scenario, you go back home and tell stories about the time you hiked in one of the prettiest parks in America and got to watch mountain goats in the distance.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ANIMALS OF OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK AND DISCOVER NEW HIKES AND INFORMATION!
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Released as both an e-book on 5-15-2015 and out in paperback on 5-30-15, this is the definitive guide to Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula. The e-book will be in full color, while the paperback is currently slated to be released in black and white to keep printing costs down. If you love Olympic National Park, or interested in exploring the nearly one million acres of wilderness, this guidebook will become a favorite.