The third year of our Goat Ambassador Program brought in some great new volunteers. Hikers from Spokane, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene stepped up to help us educate the public on safe hiking practices when in mountain goat habitat. These volunteers are instrumental in helping us get the message out.
This joint program, between the Forest Service, Idaho Fish and Game and the Friends of Scotchman Peaks has educated 1,000s of hikers over the past few years. Many simply did not realize what they were innocently doing could have serious consequences. It is not okay if a goat approaches you – you would be contributing to the habituation of that goat.
Letting a goat lick salt off you not only shows a great lack of respect for nature and other hikers, but can result in serious injuries. After many hesitant encounters, these goats become aggressive – stealing hiking poles, chewing on backpack straps and even biting people who try to leave causing the Forest Service to close the trail in 2015 for 6 months. Since the Ambassadors have been on the trail we have had no reports of injuries.
Fortunately we have had only a few reports of bad behavior by goats. We’ve received support from many sources including the Spokesman Review, numerous Facebook groups and local media. This exposure has resulted in many more people being educated and attracted more who would like to help.
We placed new warning signs both on the trail and at the trail head to further increase our educational outreach. This summer brought folks from Europe and all over the US to our area.
A recap of the 2018 Goat Ambassador season by the numbers:
- 38 Days of Ambassadors on the trail
- 43 different Ambassador Volunteers
- 305.5 hours of Ambassador trail coverage
- 119 hours of Ambassadors doing trail work
- 1350 hikers educated (average # was 35/day. High was July 1st at 84)
- Up to 15 goats were reported over the summer
- 1 black bear seen off and on over the summer and one cow moose with a handsome baby.
This year we had over 40 volunteers who hiked as Ambassadors. Some with friends, some alone and one family of 8 all outfitted in Forest Service polo shirts and FSPW volunteer hats. These folks are the heart and soul of the program, which would not exist without them. They have undoubtedly prevented injuries and helped keep the trail open for hiking since its inception 3 years ago. We cannot thank them enough!
Our 2018 Goat Ambassadors (* = hiked multiple times):
Jacob Arrington*, Tracie Babor*, Susan Bates-Harbuck, Erick Berntsen, Melissa Bonsell, Diane Brockway, Kristy Canright, Mark Cochran, Susan Conway- Keen, Jame Davis, Susan Drumheller, Katie Gordon, Joa Harrison and family, Jane Hoover, Phil Hough*, Deb Hunsicker*, Dan Krabacher*, Brian McVey *, Theresa MacLennan, Francine Mejia , Cami Murray, Elizabeth Oliver, Jeannie Patterson, Katie Radborn-Dale, Nancy Schmidt, Howard Shay*, Connie Shay*, Larry Siegrist, Jason Smith, Kim Taylor, Kate Walker.