By Mary Franzel, FSPW Goat Education Coordinator
The Mountain Goat Ambassador Program has been a big hit with hikers. Reports are that pretty much every hiker encountered by our Ambassadors have been very appreciative of having someone on the trail not only educating the public regarding proper mountain goat (and hiker) behavior, but also to answer questions ranging from where huckleberries are (not always a clear response……) to how many goats to expect or what to do with their dog or how much further to the top.
Regarding dogs on the trail – the goats definitely seem to respect dogs. They keep a much more appropriate and safe distance when canines are present. That safe distance is 150′ or more. Think half a football field. Leashes are recommended as one nears the top – where the trail breaks out of the trees. It isn’t appropriate for dogs to be chasing any wildlife.
It is common for hikers to want to enjoy their lunch or at least a snack once they reach the summit. It is vital that if you do this – that you please be very careful to not spill – even crumbs continue to attract the goats. And definitely do not offer to share your lunch regardless of how cute the goats may be. They have sharp horns & can be aggressive.
If the goats approach you – yell at them – not quietly either. Wave your arms &/or knock your hiking poles together. We’ve had a few reports of goats not backing up very far. You may have to do this several times. If they do not retreat to over 150′ (again, think 1/2 a football field) you can throw rocks at their feet. Please use the telephoto or zoom on your camera to get the cool “close up” pictures of a goat.
The Forest Service and Friends of Scotchman Peaks would very much appreciate all hikers filling out a short card at the trailhead when you return about the goats & your experience on the trail. The porta-potties at the trail head definitely are getting use & reports are the parking lot & trail are pretty clean – thank you!!