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Friends of Scotchman Peaks tout mountain goat awareness

by The Western News
| June 14, 2022 7:00 AM

The days are getting longer, the snow is melting, wildflowers are blooming and that means it’s time to get out and hike Scotchman Peak.

The iconic ridge that looms over Lake Pend Oreille lends itself to fantastic views and the opportunity to see wild mountain goats in their craggy home.

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.

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.

While it can be an amazing feeling to be that close to a wild animal, please remember that it is not only dangerous for you, but also for the goats and future hikers.

If a goat becomes a “problem,” it may face being euthanized. 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.

Hikers are recommended to stay at least 100 feet from goats. If they approach a person, yelling or acting intimidating are ways to show the goat they aren't an easy target for salt. If you see other hikers getting too close to the goats, politely let them know that they should stay away because these wild animals can be dangerous.

The group is also seeking volunteer trail ambassadors Peak Trail this summer. Trail Ambassadors are outfitted with a T-shirt and hat by the Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness. They also talk with fellow hikers about goat etiquette and safety.

To become a volunteer Trail Ambassador or learn more about hiking safely in mountain goat territory visit: Scotchmanpeaks.org.