National and State Parks across the country each have their own set of rules, unique to the landscape and particular wildlife of the area. Every single one of them, however, has at least one in common: do not approach the wildlife.
Regardless of whether it’s a bison, elk, mountain goat, or bear, the distance between any park visitor and any wild animal should be at least 50-100 yards at any given time. If the animal wanders toward you, it’s your responsibility to re-establish that distance.
Breaking this rule is a bad idea. Doing so with a baby animal present is an unbelievably bad idea. Even the most seemingly harmless animal will become aggressive if it believes its baby is in danger.
It should go without saying but these Glacier National Park visitors coming within feet of a nanny and her kid could have easily ended in a mountain goat attack.
Now, it also goes without saying that the appeal of a baby mountain goat is undeniable. They’re tiny, fuzzy creatures that romp through the fields after their mothers, taking their first tentative leaps among the rocks and cliffs until they’re able to scale even the steepest mountains with ease.
However, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to approach them. While mountain goat attacks are extremely rare, they’re unpredictable, skittish animals whose females possess a strong maternal instinct.
Unlike elk or moose, female mountain goats grow horns just like males. The only difference is that females’ horns are thinner and less curved. They’re still the perfect weapon for goring a potential threat.
Mountain Goat Kills Hiker in Olympic National Park
Again, mountain goat attacks are rare, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Back in 2010, an Olympic National Park visitor suffered fatal injuries after coming into contact with a mountain goat.
The 63-year-old hiker, named Robert Boardman, was hiking on a popular trail with his wife and friend. About four miles into the trail, they encountered a mountain goat. While instructing his wife and friend to turn back, Boardman faced down the goat, attempting to shoo it away.
Soon after Boardman was out of sight, his wife and friend heard his screams. Rushing back up the trail, they found Robert Boardman lying motionless on the ground, the mountain goat standing over him. After about 15 minutes, the goat was successfully distracted by another hiker, allowing Boardman’s group to approach him.
A local doctor who happened to be on the trail gave Boardman CPR, doing everything he could to restart the hiker’s pulse. Sadly, however, it was too late. The Coast Guard arrived on the scene 20 minutes later, airlifting the hiker to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The mountain goat was later found and euthanized, and Boardman is the only known person to have died in such an attack at the park. But as Olympic National Park representative Barb Maynes explained to the Seattle Times, “the underlying fact is that wildlife is unpredictable, and that applies to all types of wildlife.”