The mountain goats that call Scotchman Peak home are still there. And so are some very well-dressed trail ambassadors. The fourth season of the partnership between FSPW, Idaho Fish & Game (IDFG), and the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) is underway.
Volunteers have been out on weekends and holidays hiking Scotchman Peak since mid-June. They chat with other hikers about safety in mountain goat country. This includes how to keep those pesky goats away when they are in search of salt (aka sweat). And also, why to keep them away.
In 2015, a Scotchman Peak hiker was letting a mountain goat lick the sweat off his leg. The hiker decided he was done and ready to move on. The goat disagreed. Some stitches and conversations with FSPW, IDFG, and IPNF later, there was a plan in place to close the trail. The goats needed some time away from people.
Scotchman Peak Trail ended up being closed for the remainder of the season due to fire. When folks started hiking it again in 2016, the herd had not forgotten how yummy sweat and human food was to them. Luckily, the Trail Ambassador program kicked off that same year.
This season, hikers seem to be responding well to a little education. There is still the occasional person who takes a selfie with a mountain goat licking their ear. Luckily, the good advice from the ambassadors is spreading. There is an increasing number of unofficial ambassadors on the trail. If someone is letting a goat lick them, it’s not just dangerous for that person and the goat, it’s dangerous for all the other hikers to come. And people aren’t afraid to let others know that.
If you want to join the volunteer Trail Ambassadors, the official season runs through the first weekend of October. Visit our website for a list of open dates.