KIRO-TV is reporting that a freak attack by a mountain goat has killed a hiker in Olympic National Park in Port Angeles, Washington. The hiker, 63-year-old Bob Boardman from Port Angeles, is the first person to die in the park from an animal attack. Boardman, a nurse, woodworker and avid hiker had been enjoying a day hike in Olympic with his wife and a friend when the killer goat attacked. The trio were hiking on the Switchback Trail to Klahhane Ridge approximately 17 miles south of Port Angeles.
What are Mountain Goats?
So just what are mountain goats? According to National Geographic, mountain goats are not really true goats, but more like a goat-antelope mix. The large hoofed mammal, found only in North America, reside only in high elevations. Both male and female mountain goats have horns which they often use against each other to defend themselves and their offspring and vie for territory.
Mountain goats are not native to Olympic National Park, having been introduced in the 1920s. By the 1980s, the animals had become such a nuisance that a capture and release operation was instituted. The federal government shut down the program in 1990.
Though mountain goats are frequently aggressive towards each other, it is rare for them to attack and kill humans.
Details of Mountain Goat Attack Still Unclear
According to the Seattle Times, details of the deadly mountain goat attack are still sketchy, but what is known is that Boardman was apparently stalked by the killer goat before being attacked. Dr. Margaret Bangs, who was in the area at the time of the goat attack, saw the goat stalking Boardman. “I looked up, and you could see him (Boardman) with two walking sticks and that goat following, just breathing down his neck,” said Bangs.
Known Details of the Mountain Goat Attack
No one knows exactly what happened in the attack because when the mountain goat became aggressive, Boardman sent this wife and friend for help while he stayed to scare away the killer goat. What is known is that at approximately 1:20 p.m. the trio of hikers stopped for lunch at a scenic overlook when they were approached by the goat. The goat immediately began acting aggressively towards the hikers. As Boardman’s wife and friend left down the trail, they heard screams. When help finally reached Boardman he was lying on the ground, the goat standing on top of him. Rescuers had a difficult time getting the goat to leave the body, but were eventually successful. The goat was later shot and killed. Boardman, who had been gored in the thigh, later died at Olympic Medical Center.
Other Hikers Reported Aggressive Mountain Goat
This is not the first news of an aggressive mountain goat in the area. In 2008, park officials were informed that an aggressive goat was approaching hikers and following them on the same trail where Boardman was killed. It is not known if this is the same goat, although park spokeswoman Barb Maynes explains, “we have had specific reports that we can specifically link to one individual goat.” Park rangers had shot bean bags and thrown rocks at the aggressive goat to discourage it from following hikers, but had not killed it because it had never attacked anyone.
Park Biologists Set to Examine Killer Mountain Goat
Park biologists will conduct a necropsy of the killer goat as they attempt to figure out what it behaved the way it did. The goat’s physiology will be evaluated and it will be tested for a variety of diseases.