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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Scotchman Friends educating hikers about mountain goats

A mountain goat billy dubbed “Monte” is frequently seen on North Idaho's Scotchman Peak.
A mountain goat billy dubbed “Monte” is frequently seen on North Idaho's Scotchman Peak.

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WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Mountain goat watching has become an attraction luring hikers up the significantly steep 7-mile round trip to the top of Scotchman Peak northeast of Lake Pend Oreille.

Unfortunately, some hikers are urinating on the mountain top and making food available to the goats. Goats are attracted to the salt in urine and can become aggressive in defending their "salt licks." They also can become dangerous with their sharp horns if they become addicted to human food. 

Considering the number of hikers climbing up the peak nowadays, the cumulative effect of these actions could lead to a goat's demise.

NOTE:  An aggressive mountain goat gored and killed a hiker in Olympic National Park last fall. The goat as killed by rangers. The family has just filed a $10 million wrongful death suit against the park.... you can see how serious this gets.

The Friends of of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness recognize the threat to their iconic goats, so they're posting signs -- see pdf document with this post -- and asking Scotchman visitors to act in the best interest of the goats.

"There is an increase in the number of goats, mostly younger, who are hanging around the top of Scotchman Peak," said Phil Hough of the Friends group. "We're not sure if it's been a successfull couple years for goat reproduction, or if word has gotten out in the goat "social circles" that there are "yahoos" willing to do stupid things like feed them.

"We're trying to get the word out to leave them alone.  Just this week, our summer intern, Lauren Mitchell, finished a Goat Education Poster. We'll be displaying it at trail heads and events. 

Read on for some of the tips the poster offers for mountain goat encounters.

Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness remind you: Mountain Goats are wild!

• Do not assume that mountain goats are tame. Respect their personal space and respect their presence as the “kings of the mountain.”
• Do not feed mountain goats. This makes them associate humans with food  and sometimes even dependent on humans as a source of food.
• Do not urinate close to the trail. Goats have very little sodium in their  diet and have discovered that human  urine is a great source of salt.
• Do not leave your backpack unattended. Mountain goats  will chew off  the sweaty straps.

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Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.

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