Officials are warning hikers at a popular camping and recreation area north of Provo, Utah to keep their pets on leashes after mountain goats have killed multiple dogs by goring them or pushing them off cliffs.
The most recent goat-dog conflict occurred on August 19, according to the Timpanogos Emergency Response Team. An off-leash dog was reportedly agitating a female mountain goat with young. The nanny defended her kid by pushing the dog off a cliff. The dog died from the fall.
“It is the responsibility of dog owners to keep their animals under control at all times, as well as to pack out their waste,” Utah County officials told Salt Lake City’s FOX-13 TV. “Allowing your dogs to chase goats carries fines akin to poaching.”
Whitney Albee from Manti, Utah went hiking, backpacking, and camping near the Mount Timpanogos Trail the weekend of August 19 with her husband. Albee reported what they encountered on Facebook.
“The mountain goats are everywhere. And not afraid to get close,” she wrote. “We thought we would see them up on the mountain range, [at] more of a distance. But we had no idea they would just be right on the trail or just a few feet off the trail.
“We were warned that two dogs had been killed within the last two weeks. One was pushed off a cliff, the other one was gored. We were told to keep our dog on a leash the whole time. The goats popped around everywhere unexpectedly.”
It’s a good thing the Albees chose to keep their dog leashed throughout the duration of their trip. The third incident would happen while they were in the area.
“Unfortunately … we passed a dog who later was killed by another goat. Our understanding is that it was annoying a mom (nanny) with her babies (kids) and was gored and pushed off the cliff.”
Albee posted a number of mountain goat photos in and around their tent camp. She says some walked within just a few feet of her husband who was sleeping in a hammock.
“Pretty amazing animals, but it’s their home and we need to respect them,” she wrote.
Mountain goats in the area are usually calm and unaggressive. But they are protecting their young during this time of year. Unleashed dogs can prompt goats to enter a defensive and dangerous state.
Scott Root from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources had some advice for dog owners. “At the present time, I would probably discourage people from taking dogs up around Timpanogos,” he said.
Rare Mountain Goat Attacks
Even though mountain goats are not known to be aggressive critters, they are powerful animals with sharp horns and they’re sure-footed on the most treacherous terrain. These characteristics give them an advantage over humans and dogs in the backcountry, especially near cliffs and steep areas. The most high-profile story of a mountain goat attack happened in 2010 when hiker Robert Boardman, 63, was killed by a goat in Olympic National Park. Boardman and his companions took a break for lunch when they were approached by a mountain goat. Boardman attempted to scare the goat off, but it charged and gored him in the leg. The goat stood over the man’s body and prevented other hikers from coming to his rescue. Park officials eventually shot and killed the goat.
More recently, researchers confirmed that a mountain goat had killed a small female grizzly bear in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park.
“Grizzly bear predation of mountain goats is relatively common, and I guess the mountain goat was successful in this instance and turned the tables on the grizzly,” David Laskin, a wildlife ecologist with the Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay field unit told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. “Mountain goats are big animals and those horns are very sharp.”