Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fatal goat goring investigation continues at Olympic NP

The preliminary investigation of the October 16th fatal mountain goat goring near Klahhane Ridge has concluded and the findings were consistent with initial accounts of the incident.

Witnesses and others in the area at the time describe an aggressive male mountain goat that approached, followed and fatally gored Robert Boardman while he was hiking. Following the fatal encounter, the goat stood over Boardman until several visitors, including an off-duty National Park Service employee, succeeded in scaring off the goat. First aid and CPR were administered at the scene and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter transported Boardman to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, where he was pronounced dead.

Following the incident, the goat was positively identified by park rangers and destroyed. A necropsy and comprehensive tissue analysis were conducted on the goat and preliminary results have been released. A wide range of tests, including the initial visual examination during necropsy, followed by microscopic study of the major organs and a battery of diagnostic tests, have not revealed any signs of disease or other physical abnormalities.

The goat is estimated to have weighed over 350 pounds. Tests for rabies virus, encephalitis virus, plague and tularemia revealed no evidence of those diseases. Salt concentrations in the animal’s urine were within normal limits. Tissue analysis showed that the goat was in breeding condition or “rut.” Additional diagnostic tests for several diseases are still ongoing, including listeria and chronic wasting disease, as are several chemical assessments for key nutrients.

Rangers and wildlife biologists conducted daily goat behavior monitoring patrols during the week of October 18th, but these have not continued since snowfall began on October 24th – nearly two feet of snow is now on the ground at Hurricane Ridge. Up to eight goats were seen in a day but there were no observations of aggressive mountain goat behavior. Some goats appeared to be habituated to human presence, but quickly moved away when people yelled or waved their arms. Patrols will resume this fall if weather and snow conditions permit.

Once winter weather begins, mountain goats typically move to their winter range, which varies from herd to herd. Winter range for goats in the Hurricane/Klahhane area is primarily along a rocky, windswept ridge north and east of Klahhane Ridge. Park biologists, in collaboration with biologists from neighboring land and wildlife management agencies, have solicited and have been receiving information about mountain goat–human interactions from across the animals’ range. Park staff will incorporate all new information learned through this incident into the park’s nuisance and hazardous animal plan.

You can read about my encounter with a mountain goat in Colorado a couple of weeks ago by clicking here.


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