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Hiking Scotchman’s peak? Stay away from the goats

A mountain goat surveys Lake Pend Oreille from the top of Scotchman Peak on June 10, 2019, near Clark Fork, Idaho.  (TYLER TJOMSLAND)
A mountain goat surveys Lake Pend Oreille from the top of Scotchman Peak on June 10, 2019, near Clark Fork, Idaho. (TYLER TJOMSLAND)

Gearing up to hike Scotchman Peak, the classic 8-mile hike in North Idaho?

Don’t forget to avoid the goats.

“While it is tempting to get up close and personal with these herbivorous creatures, it’s important to remember that they are still wild creatures with sharp horns and tough attitudes,” the Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness warns in a news release. “Like horses and cows, these ungulates crave salt. They will walk many miles to find it in the wild. On top of Scotchman Peak, they don’t need to travel far, as our backpacks, shirts and urine all possess the precious mineral. The mountain goats of Scotchman Peak have learned that an easier way to find salt is to lick hikers and their equipment, not to mention the urine left behind on the ground.”

Humans should avoid getting close to goats and other wildlife. Refusing to do so, in pursuit of a cool selfie perhaps, can lead to devastating consequences for humans and goats. In 2010, a goat killed a man in Olympic National Park. More recently, Scotchman Peak was closed to hikers after a goat bit a hiker.

“If a goat becomes a “problem,” it may face the death penalty,” according to the news release. “Future hikers will be harassed by salt-seeking goats. And as we’ve seen in other busy mountainous places, aggressive goats can lead to trail closures at best and hiker fatalities at worst.”

Experts recommend staying at least 100 feet away from the goats. If the goats do approach, be loud and intimidating by waving your arms and yelling.

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness is also looking for volunteer trail ambassadors this summer. For more information, visit Scotchmanpeaks.org.

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