Hostile Mountain Goat, Hiker Encounters Trigger Idaho Trail Closure
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While bears and buffalo may be atop hikers' list of concerns when trekking through nature out West, aggressive mountain goats are responsible for temporarily shutting down a popular hiking trail in Northern Idaho.
The U.S. Forest Service announced late last week that the Scotchman Peak Trail will be closed temporarily as a result of recent encounters between humans and mountain goats, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported. A person was bitten by a goat back in June and there have been several reports of goats attempting to head-butt or charge trail-goers.
The Forest Service is working with the Idaho Department of Fish & Game to address the concern but has not issued a timetable for reopening the trail.
In a news release, Idaho Panhandle National Forests spokesman Jason Kirchner said "the temporary closure is intended to allow time for the goats to find other sources of food beyond handouts provided by hikers and to reduce their willingness to approach humans."
The Forest Service attributed the encounters to trail visitors who have been offering food to the goats, which has led the animals to adapt and behave aggressively in an effort to obtain human food.
The visitor violations have occurred in spite of posted signs urging trail hikers to avoid feeding the goats.
"Feeding wild animals is dangerous and selfish behavior," former Fish & Game biologist Mary Terra-Berns wrote in a 2014 Daily Bee column. "It not only puts the individual providing the food in danger, it also puts everyone else in danger. Feeding creates an expectation of salt or food from anyone that hikes to the top of the peak."
As recently as 2010, a hiker was fatally gored by a mountain goat at Washington's Olympia National Park.
It's worth noting that the trail closure comes in the wake of increased bear activity in Montana's Glacier National Park.
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