Mountain goats are fascinating animals. They may look silly with their long faces and sometimes out-of-control horns, but don’t let their funny traits fool you. These amazing survivors can climb the steepest slopes and live off practically nothing.
When one particular group of mountain goats ended up somewhere they didn’t belong, the environment and its inhabitants suffered. Desperate for their next fix, these goats became addicted to something very strange and potentially dangerous…
Since 2018, those who found themselves near Olympic National Park may have seen a rather strange occurrence: goats dragged through the sky in orange backpacks by helicopter. But the reason why these goats were being removed was even stranger than the sight itself.
Olympic National Park is a nature reserve near Port Angeles, Washington. The park has four basic regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west side temperate rainforest, and the forests of the drier east side. It’s a popular spot for boating, camping, and of course, mountain climbing.
In recent years, the park’s visitors have been harassed by Mountain goats — though they’re not entirely to blame. The goats were first put there by a hunting group in the 1920s, and since they had almost no natural predators in the park, their population grew quickly.
In their natural habitat, the goats tend to lick salt rocks in order to hold water in for a longer time, but those aren’t found in Olympic Park. This means that in their new territory, they had to resort to other methods to get their salty fix.
When a mountain goat is having really “baaaahd” salt cravings, they turn to the only other animal that carries salt in their body: humans. Hiding behind the rocks and trees, the goats practically stalk their prey and prepare to seriously invade their personal bubble…
The goats usually run up to the tourists, unafraid of them, and begin licking their exposed skin to get a nice taste of their salty sweat. However, it doesn’t stop there. When a hiker decides to go number one behind a bush, the goats are ready to pounce and drink it up. Yum!
Sadly, what might sound like a funny quirk had serious consequences for hikers like Robert H. Boardman, a 63-year-old local from Port Angeles. He set out to hike the National Park with his wife and their friend in 2010, but never made it back.
Eventually, authorities discovered that a mountain goat had attacked Boardman with its horns and hooves, and would not let anyone else get near him. Boardman was eventually retrieved and taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
As a result of this tragedy, the National Park Service rangers got to work tackling the problem and warning park visitors. Along with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Forest Service, they came up with a 3-5 year plan to remove the goats from the park.
They decided that some of the goats will be sedated, blindfolded, and airlifted out of Olympic National Park, and then placed into a different nature reserve. Others would be lifted out in fancy orange bodysuits, and the rest will get their own crate.
The plan is to capture roughly half of the 700 goats within the park and safely transport them to the snowier North Cascade Mountains, where they are a native species.
Ruth Milner, who has been studying mountain goats with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for decades, has stated that moving the goats to the North Cascades is a “win-win.” Why? Well, because the population of goats in the Cascades could actually use an increase.
However, environmental sciences Professor David Wallin from Western Washington University is skeptical. “This translocation effort isn’t going to solve the problem, but we figure we can move 300 to 400 goats over and that’s a 10 percent bump in the population [in the North Cascades]. Our hope is that will help jump-start the recovery.”
The goats who aren’t getting on a first class flight to the Cascades are being moved by refrigerated trucks to keep the thick-furred rascals cool on their way to their new old home.
The goats who still remain are being made to wear tracking devices so the rangers and the departments can stay on top of their whereabouts in Olympic National Park. If one were to attack again, they’ll know exactly which goat is to blame.
Those who have been seen acting aggressively or who may be injured or ill, are sadly being marked to be put down. This is not only to protect the visitors of Olympic National Park, but also the other animal species in the North Cascades.
To keep things somewhat natural, the slain Goats are left in the park to provide food for scavengers. These carcasses will be placed far away from any hiking trails or other popular spots out of safety for the visitors.
“We saw the ecosystem bounce back,” said Patti Happe, a wildlife biologist at the park. “When you get a group of goats hanging out in an area they move around and trample the soil and fragile vegetation. They also form these wallows and create big patches of exposed soil, and with erosion, they get bigger and bigger.”
The story of the goats gone wild has received a lot of attention. NPR had interviewed several experts on the issue, and the story even made the front page of the Seattle Times.
The mountain goat problem is not one with an easy or quick fix, and the goats will be transported until at least 2019 and monitored for much longer. Hopefully, this will lead to less out-of-hand altercations with hikers. Please give these goats some salt to lick!
Goats are certainly interesting creatures and they have some really strange behavior that makes them totally unique. But goats are in fact ancient creatures, and in order to stand the test of time, they have to able to adapt to their surroundings… whatever they are.
Last August, Hobo was found wandering a country road near Charnock Richard, Lancashire in England. He was severely underweight and his horns had been snapped off.
He was taken to the Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Chorley where he was spotted and adopted by animal lover Tracey Flowers. Though she already over a dozen animals, she just couldn’t resist adding Hobo to the family.
Though Tracy had several other goats for Hobo to play with, it was actually the dogs that seemed to make Hobo the happiest, and pretty soon, he was spending almost all of his time with them.
Now Tracy thinks that Hobo doesn’t even see himself as a goat anymore. He thinks he’s a puppy!
“I have two other goats but they are nothing like Hobo,” she says. “They act like actual goats but he is happiest when he is with the dogs.”
Tracy now walks Hobo every day with the rest of the dogs. He’s even come to expect it and starts bleating and leaping around if she’s late with the leash.
While he’s not yet fully housebroken, he’s allowed a free run of the kitchen where he gets into all kinds of trouble. “Hobo is such a character and has a hilarious sense of humor,” says Tracy. “He is so much fun and is a massive part of our lives now.”
another big goat loving crew is The Gentle Barn. It’s a sanctuary in Tennessee that rescues and rehabilitates abused and neglected farm animals. One of its residents is Pearl, and she’s one friendly goat!
There’s not an animal on the farm with whom she doesn’t get along. One of her best friends is Daisy the horse, one of the Gentle Barn’s very first residents.
Pearl’s also quite friendly with all the dogs who live there. It looks like she and this pup are having a friendly conversation in the barn!
She even gets along great with cats, although here she looks like she might be more interested in munching the papers on the table. There’s one person, though, who Pearl just might like best of all…
The Gentle Barn Tennessee / Facebook
This friendly goat absolutely loves when the UPS delivery driver comes to visit! Just look at him waiting to greet his friend.
The Gentle Barn wrote on Facebook: “Pearl is in love with the UPS man. When she hears his truck pull in she will drop whatever she is doing to run and see him!”
The UPS driver loves Pearl, too, and usually brings her treats. Sometimes she gets a little impatient, though, and climbs in his truck to get them! And this deliveryman isn’t the only one with an unexpected animal bond.
Everybody knows that the relationship between dogs and mailmen isn’t always friendly. For Colorado mailman Jeff Kramer, though, the highlight of his work day involves getting to see his favorite dog on his route, Tashi.
Of course, as a longtime employee of the United States Postal Service in Boulder, Colorado, Jeff, 53, has made many close friends along the way. Still, he gets no greater joy than when he sees Tashi while out delivering the mail for the day.
Jeff knows better than anyone that the relationship between dogs and mailmen is historically tumultuous, so he’s sure to be extra cautious on his route. “You don’t check out a dog first,” he said in an interview. “You let it check you out, and you’re much better off that way.” This is how he became close with Tashi…
It was with this caution in mind that Jeff first approached the home on Bluebell Avenue in South Boulder where he would meet his soon-to-be best pal, Tashi. It became clear to him right away that he could throw all caution to the wind, as this dog was the friendliest he’d ever met. It’s been that way ever since, actually!
“As fast as he could—which was not very fast—he ran up to me, tail wagging, first day I met him,” Jeff said of his initial meeting with Tashi. “He’s just a really friendly dog. I am a dog person, and they can tell.”
It wasn’t long before Jeff began looking forward to seeing his favorite black Labrador every day during his route. The feeling was, of course, mutual. Tashi loved all of the attention and petting he’d get from his favorite postal worker!
“Tashi adores Jeff,” the dog’s owner, Karen Dimetrosky, said to reporters in an interview. “Tashi would hang outside and would always get so excited when Jeff came… He has always wagged his tail and pulled us over to his mail truck.”
As their relationship grew over the years that followed, Jeff couldn’t help but notice that Tashi seemed to be slowing down. At 14 years old, he’d begun to gain a noticeable amount of extra weight, which prevented him from even being able to walk down the stairs to greet his friend.
This sudden change made Jeff sad, to say the least. He continued to deliver their mail daily, but he didn’t know exactly how bad Tashi’s condition had gotten. One day, while bringing their mail, he noticed that Tashi’s owners had to help him out of the house.
Tashi’s family carrying him in and out of the house soon became a common occurrence. “We were literally carrying him up and down the stairs,” Karen said in an interview about their beloved dog. “And he weighs about 70 pounds.”
“We didn’t realize how much trouble [Tashi] was having until I saw them actually carry him up the stairs,” Jeff said, recalling the events solemnly. “I remembered my dog having the same problem, and it’s sad.”
This daily sight of the aging Tashi, while sad in and of itself, also furthered Jeff’s sadness as it reminded him of his own beloved dog, Odie. Odie had, sadly, passed away five years earlier, and Jeff couldn’t help but be reminded of the time when his dog entered his twilight years.
Determined to make a difference in Tashi’s life, and to hopefully help him regain some mobility, Jeff developed a plan. One day, he arrived to the Dimetrosky’s home with a massive pile of wood—the remains of a ramp he’d once built to aid Odie.
Even though Jeff had brought the wood in hopes that Tashi’s family would build him a ramp, the materials sat untouched for months. “We’re not very handy,” Karen admitted. “I’m more handy than my husband, but I didn’t know how to put that together.”
That’s when Jeff decided he would have to take matters into his own hands. He could no longer sit idly by and watch as Tashi lost the ability to come outside to greet him. So, one morning, he came to the Dimetrosky’s home and built the ramp all by himself!
Jeff, who built the ramp for Tashi out of the kindness of his heart, remains humble about his more-than-generous actions. “I just noticed they needed it. I didn’t need it anymore and I hate throwing things away,” he said.
With that, the Dimetrosky family was extremely thankful for everything that Jeff had done for Tashi. “He’s just amazing,” Karen said about her mailman’s generosity. “We’ve had the ramp for a few months and he’s saved us.”
From his generous actions, Jeff also stood to regain the companionship of his beloved route dog! Before long, he and Tashi were right back where they’d once been. “It’s amazing,” Karen said. “Jeff will come knock on the door and Tashi will get up off his bed and walk out to greet him.”
It goes without saying that Jeff building the ramp for Tashi had given the sweet dog a new lease on life. “The ramp has helped Tashi tremendously,” Karen added. “He can walk in and out of the front door and down to the yard independently.”
“[Jeff] potentially prolonged his life because my husband and I both pulled our back out by lifting Tashi on and off the porch,” she said. “[It has] given Tashi a sense of independence and dignity as an older dog. Jeff is just a compassionate letter carrier who possesses a love for animals.”