• Relocated mountain goats spotted in Rattlesnake Ledge, sparking concerns for hikers

    By: Deedee Sun

    Updated:

    RATTLESNAKE LEDGE, Wash. - Wild mountain goats have been spotted at Rattlesnake Ledge. KIRO7’s Chopper 7 also saw goats Thursday on Mount Si

    Some of the goats were relocated by air from the Olympics to the Cascades after a lack of salt in the first environment led the goats to become aggressive.

    Stunning images from Rika Osawa show a mountain goat hanging out on the ledge at Rattlesnake in October.

    One video shows the goat walking towards the camera.

    “When he was walking towards us I was like, wow!” Osawa said over the phone.

    She said she was nervous – but not scared.

    Other photos show from Osawa show the goat just yards away from hikers, a pet dog, and if you’ve been to Rattlesnake – you know everyone is not far off from a very big drop. The goat in the photos is wearing a black GPS collar.

    “That’s so we can track her movements,” said Rich Harris, with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We did have one nanny that moved into a popular hiking trail – the Rattlesnake Ridge area. Because she’s an animal that was used to being around people in the park, she didn’t run away,” Harris said.

    Harris said he was somewhat surprised that the goat made its way to Rattlesnake. He said since then, she’s made her way about 16 miles away from the trail, close to where fish and wildlife first dropped her off.

    The female goat was one of 98 goats relocated in September from the Olympic National Park to the Cascades, where they’re found natively.

    Harris said the goats were brought to the Olympics in the 1920’s by a hunting club from Alaska and British Columbia.

    “They proliferated, did very well, then started causing issues,” Harris said.

    Because there’s so little salt in the Olympics, the goats became attracted to hikers’ sweat and urine and started causing problems for people.

    In 2010, 63-year-old Robert Boardman was killed on a trail by a 370 pound aggressive goat.

    Hikers who’ve been to Rattlesnake say they’re hoping fish and wildlife is thinking about hiker safety with the mountain goat relocation business.

    “It seems like a recipe for more unfortunate interactions between goats and people. The goats are habituated to humans, they’re looking for their missing salt, so they’re going to want to hang around people and there’s tons of people,” said Ann Ziegler, who was at Discovery Park Thursday.

    Hikers said the relocation could be a problem, especially on a ledge with a big drop like Rattlesnake.

    “If they give you a bit of a bump. That would be a problem, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that,” said Anthony Robinson, another hiker. Robinson was at Rattlesnake around the time the goat was spotted, but he didn’t see the goat.

    Fish and Wildlife says goats are not aggressive by nature and hikers don’t have to worry. But as with encountering all wildlife – be cautious.

    “A wild animal that’s habituated is used to people who don’t cause a threat, so it just goes about its business. That can become problematic because goats do crave salt. We don’t want people getting too close to the goats. So do not let them lick you, do not touch them, don’t approach them, and don’t feed them,” Harris said.

    “If they approach you, we recommend shouting, raising your voice. And if they are very insistent -- and this will typically happen in the summer when they really want salt -- then throwing small pebbles or rocks at them, it’s OK to even hit them,” Harris said.

    More goats are coming to the Cascades – the overall plan is to move about 350 goats in total from the Olympics to the Cascades, and another move will happen in the summer of 2019.

    Harris said they are monitoring the goats for any potential trouble.

    “We are making sure there aren’t problems, that a goat doesn’t wind up in a really bad place where it’s a danger to itself or the people,” Harris said.

    As for the two goats Chopper 7 spotted on Mount Si Thursday, Harris said none of their relocated and GPS-tracked goats were there, so the goats were likely there natively.

     

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