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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Scotchman Peak trail reopened; hikers urged to avoid feeding goats

Mountain goat on Scotchman Peak in North Idaho northeast of Lake Pend Oreille. (Bob Legasa)
Mountain goat on Scotchman Peak in North Idaho northeast of Lake Pend Oreille. (Bob Legasa)

HIKING -- The trail to the top of Scotchman Peak near Clark Fork, Idaho, has been reopened after being closed four months ago because of aggressive mountain goats.  It will be up to hikers to keep the trail open by following proper wildlife etiquette.

Perhaps the Forest Service is too shy to say it outright, but that means hikers must avoid peeing near the summit of the peak.  Mountain goats and other critters are attracted to urine for the salt content.  You can do this!

Here's the info released today by the Idaho Panhandle National Forests:

The Scotchman Peak Trail #65 reopens February 12, after having been closed in September 2015 as a precautionary measure against aggressive mountain goats.  The goats had been habituated to humans as a result of hikers enticing the goats with food offerings, and were behaving aggressively in an attempt to obtain human foods. 

In June 2015, a hiker was bitten by a goat and required multiples stitches.  Additionally, there were numerous reports of goats attempting to head-butt or charge hikers, which could easily lead to serious injury or death.  The temporary closure was intended to allow time for the goats find other sources of food beyond the handouts provided by hikers, and to reduce their willingness to approach humans.

People play an important role in keeping this popular trail open by discouraging goat encounters.  Wildlife experts recommend people stay at least 100 feet away from the goats and if goats approach, to yell, wave clothing, and throw rocks from a distance to scare them away. It is bad goat etiquette to feed them and allow them to lick salt off your hands. 

In order for the Forest Service to keep this trail open so everyone can enjoy the expansive views and frequent mountain goat sightings, people have to practice good goat etiquette and educate others if bad behavior is witnessed. 

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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