The third season of the mountain goat ambassador program hit the ground running the middle of June. As soon as hikers appear on Scotchman, so do the goats. They flock to the popular peak in hopes of getting some easy salt. Natural mineral licks are often times well away from a goat’s preferred habitat and in areas that have more predators. Thus the goats, despite their natural fear of humans, have learned that we provide a relatively safe means to obtain essential salt. This has led to some goat-caused injuries to hikers in the years prior to our Ambassador Program.
This year there are quite a few mountain goats awaiting hikers near the summit of Scotchman Peak. They are hopeful but their wishes are being dashed by an outstanding crew of Ambassadors. These volunteer hikers briefly chat with visitors on the trail and explain how to hike safely in mountain goat habitat. Thus we are happy to report there have been no injuries related to goats since the inception of the Ambassador Program.
A few simple actions by hikers will keep everyone safe and the trail open.
First and foremost – keep 100 feet between you and the goats at all times. They are beautiful and the kids are adorably sweet and friendly looking. It is NOT okay if they approach you. These are wild animals and should be treated as such. They have sharp horns and teeth which can cause a visit to ER for stitches (this happened the year prior to our program)! They can be protective of their young, territorial and just plain unpredictable. Yell, wave your arms and slap your hiking poles together. This should push them off the trail and away from humans. If it does not, throw stones near them. There are many peaks nearby that are excellent goat habitat. They are on Scotchman in hopes of getting salt. We are not ‘invading’ their only habitat.
Watch your equipment at all times. They have been known to steal a hiking pole (salt from sweat on the grip), lift a sweaty shirt or jacket and even chew on backpack straps or try to steal your food!
If you eat on the summit (prefer if you’d eat further down) please be VERY careful to not spill crumbs and definitely to not share your lunch.
If you have brought your canine companion, please do not feed them on the summit – they tend to leave crumbs. It is also recommended that Fido be on a leash to protect both your buddy and the goats. The goats do seem to keep a more respectable distance when there is a dog around. Never fear though – you will still be able to get stellar photographs – they do not retreat that far!
A final request – if nature calls we ask that you urinate 150’ off the trail and on vegetation/soil instead of rocks. Urine dries & leaves the coveted salt. It’s more difficult for the goats to lick dirt and leaves.
We have a lot of new Ambassadors this year who are doing an excellent job – we, along with the Forest Service and Idaho Fish and Game greatly appreciate everyone’s hard work to help educate the public, keep the goats safe and the trail open.
We still need Ambassadors – it’s fun and easy – you get to meet some amazing people from far away places with interesting stories who want to learn. To sign up click here.
For more information email Mary@scotchmanpeaks.org