Goat Days of Summer

Posted on Friday, August 11th, 2017 by »

Hiking to over 7,000’ in elevation is a great way to beat the heat – usually it’s almost 20 degrees cooler up there! The goats are enjoying the shade, so there have been fewer at the top – typically 4-5 are showing up to look at hikers. They are respecting the human presence more appropriately thanks in large part to hikers respecting that goats are large WILD animals and not allowing the goats to approach them. While it’s wonderful to see the goats – a big draw to sweat your way up close to 4,000’ in 4 miles – it is vital to keep at least 100’ from them. That includes goats approaching hikers! If they won’t back off, the hikers should.  

The long-term consequences of goat habituation are being studied in Glacier National Park, and an interesting fact has come to light. Goats that become used to getting needed minerals (primarily salt) from humans do not migrate to natural salt/mineral licks. Thus they are not teaching their young where these important areas are. The concern is that this knowledge will be lost to future generations.

Dogs are an excellent tool in keeping the goats at a safe distance. We encourage hikers to bring Fido up Scotchman. However, please leash them as you leave the tree line (or the entire time if they are not under good voice control) as we do not want Fido chasing the goats. They are quite nimble on the rocky cliffs where as Fido — not so much, and dogs should not harass ANY wildlife. However,  the mere presence of a canine keeps the goats at a safe distance. They don’t run away, so rest assured that if the goats are up there, you will still see them even with Fido.

The Forest Service greatly appreciates all the hikers who take the time at the end of their hike to fill out a goat survey, it helps us keep track of how the goats and hikers are reacting to our program. Our goal is to keep both hikers and goats safe and to keep the trail open!

Again – we would like to thank all the hearty volunteers who have hiked as Goat Ambassadors this summer – thus far over 17, with more to come!

If you’d like to be an Ambassador visit our Keep Mountain Goats Wild page.

Did you miss the last installment of this blog? Check out the Season 2, Episode 1 here.

About The Author:

Mary Franzel can be found roaming the Lightning Creek area most nice days and spends her summers as FSPW's Mountain Goat Education Coordinator.

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