According to a developing story at BBC and CBS, a hiker by the name of Robert Boardman has recently passed due to injuries that he sustained from a mountain goat attack. Boardman was having lunch with friends in Olympic National Park when a mountain goat neared their party and attacked Boardman when he tried to shoo the goat off. It took a park ranger hurling stones at the goat to get the animal to leave the area and reach the injured man. Attempts to get him to a hospital in time were unsuccessful, and he passed in a matter of hours following the mountain goat attack.
While an accidental death in the wilderness like this is always a tragedy, some of the media coverage of the attack is even more unsettling. No sooner was news of the mountain goat attack reported that a commentator at TreeHugger.com posted a tasteless opinion piece implying that the event was caused by the actions of the park rangers working at Olympic National Park. This article and others point to a park policy of mountain goat hazing that had left this particular mountain goat in such a flustered state that it had no choice but to lash out.
There was, in fact, a policy that did encourage hikers to do keep the goat in question by throwing rocks at it if necessary. The goat had been reported to be fairly aggressive but did not seem to present a serious enough threat to make it necessary to remove or destroy the animal. Instead, hikers were told to be aware of its presence and avoid approaching any such wildlife in the area.
Neither the end of the article at TreeHugger, the commentator states “Now, I’m no expert animal behaviorist, but it seems to me that hurling rocks at aggressive animals might not always be the best policy.” He goes on to state that such a policy had “backfired.” Comments following the article state that the area should have been closed off to human visitors entirely and attribute the tragedy to “human folly.”
The goat was eventually tracked and put down. The story at TreeHugger has been RT’d on Twitter over 7 dozen times (I stopped counting) and was reported in the same general tone Gawker.com