Rare and tragic events in Olympic National Park on Saturday: A mountain goat gored a 63-year-old hiker on the popular Switchback Trail to Klahhane Ridge; the Port Angeles man later died of injuries to his thigh. It’s the first wildlife-caused fatality in Olympic, and potentially the first fatal attack by a mountain goat ever recorded.
Bob Boardman, his wife, and a female friend had stopped for lunch at a scenic overlook when the aggressive billie approached the experienced hikers. Boardman attempted to shoo the goat away gently, while his companions retreated back down the trail. They reported hearing him yell, and returned to find the goat standing over an injured and bleeding Boardman. An off-duty ranger eventually got the goat to back down by distracting it with an emergency blanket and tossing rocks at it.
Later reports confirmed the man had actually distracted the 4-foot tall, 300-pound ram from attacking other hikers, and officials had known about this aggressive goat from previous reports of it following hikers and refusing to give way.
Rangers eventually found the goat with bloody horns and shot it. Officials hope tissue sample testing might reveal disease or another reason why this goat was so uncharacteristically aggressive. In the meantime, they’re warning visitors to keep at least 100 feet away from all mountain goats.
Hunters introduced mountain goats to the Olympic Peninsula in the 1920s. Mountain goats are not typically aggressive towards humans, but they have been observed harassing the more docile bighorn sheep.