How to stay safe when encountering mountain goats
Aug 30, 2023, 11:02 AM
SALT LAKE CITY — Within the last month, three dogs were killed by mountain goats on Mount Timpanogos. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reminds the public of important safety tips when encountering mountain goats and other wildlife.
“Mountain goats are really adapted to snowy weather and high-elevation conditions,” Once-In-A-Lifetime Species Coordinator, Rusty Robinson, said. “As part of that adaptation, mountain goats don’t have hard hooves like other big game animals. Their hooves are more rubbery, which helps them grip the rocks when they are climbing a steep cliffside. They also grow really long, thick hair in the winter, and then shed it in the spring when the weather warms up.”
Here’s what to do if you encounter a mountain goat while hiking:
- Give them plenty of space (roughly 150 feet or more). Mountain goats will often stand their ground or charge you if you get too close.
- If you see a mountain goat coming down the trail you are on, turn around and head back down the trail to avoid getting too close to them.
- Like other big game animals, mountain goats can be especially aggressive toward dogs. Keep dogs leashed and under control at all times. It is against Utah law to allow dogs to chase or harass protected hoofed wildlife, like mountain goats.
- If a mountain goat begins approaching you, slowly back away and give it some distance. If it continues approaching, wave your arms and make loud noises to try and scare it away.
- Talk to the land-managing agency for the area where you’re hiking and look for signs at trailheads to know if a particular trail has had reports of aggressive mountain goats. Then stay alert.
- Never feed a mountain goat or allow it to lick your skin.
“Mountain goats can impale you with their horns, so you don’t want to risk coming into contact with one,” Robinson said. “Remember that they are wild animals, so always give them plenty of space. They are found in some pretty extreme terrain, so you don’t want to risk getting too close to one while on the edge of a cliff. Be aware of your surroundings, stay alert and don’t put yourself in those situations. If you need to turn around and cut your hike short, do it.”