Trail closed by aggressive goats reopens to hikers

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK -- A popular hiking trail on Mount Ellinor has reopened after aggressive goats forced its closure over the summer.

A goat gored a hiker to death two years ago. And earlier this year when reports of aggressive goats resurfaced, the U.S. Forest Service closed the trail while they worked to correct area goats' behavior.

Wildlife biologist Kurt Aluzas spent the past three months using many methods to let the goats know who's boss by yelling, and even waving a plastic bag.

"It creates movement. It creates motion. It makes you look bigger, broader, and it makes a little bit of a racket," Aluzas said.

Aluzas was armed with rocks, a rubber-ball slingshot and even pepper spray to face -- and dominate -- the aggressive goats.

"That's a form of dominance, and that's what this is really about it's about -- showing that in standing my ground, I'm not going to let you push me around," he said.

Hikers are urged to keep a 50-yard distance from mountain goats. Those who wish to snap a photo are urged to use a zoom lens. Hikers must also go 50 yards off the trail to urinate since goats crave salt and will lick the rocks where someone has gone.

The Forest Service has posted signs along the trail to instruct hikers on preventative behavior.

An aerial survey showed approximately 30 mountain goats in the area.
close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off