Thursday morning – at around 11AM – my mother sent an email bearing a simple message: ‘hikers beware’, accompanied by a link. At that very moment, I was considering whether to join a short overnight expedition, so I thought it prudent to learn of what, precisely, hikers should be aware:
Olympic National Forest trail closed by goats
The Associated Press, HOODSPORT, Wash. —
Olympic National Forest has closed a trail near Hoodsport for two weeks because of aggressive mountain goats. The forest says there were several encounters this week with aggressive goats on the Mount Ellinor Trail, 18 miles northwest of Hoodsport.
Wildlife biologist Kurt Aluzas said the goats may be on the trails because of this year’s deep snowpack. Goats are also drawn to hiking trails seeking salt, and nanny goats may be aggressive protecting their young.
Violating the closure order could bring a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and six months in jail.
This wasn’t the first time the goats of Olympic National Park have made the news: Tim Egan wrote about them a year ago for The New York Times. Still, the AP article made me feel better about my plans to go hiking. For one, I wasn’t planning to hike Mount Ellinor. For two, I wouldn’t even be in ONP – I was heading to the North Cascades. But most importantly, I know those goats on Mount Ellinor, and they’re my friends: