Goats and Your Safety

A large white mountain goat stands on a steep mountain slope.
Non-native mountain goats can be dangerous. Always use caution.

NPS photo

Mountain goats are a non-native animal introduced to the Olympic Mountains in the 1920s. Like any wild animal, they can be dangerous, but some goat behaviors increase the risk to humans. Following the guidelines below can help you have a safe experience if you encounter a goat:
  • Mountain goats can become very tolerant of people and allow very close approach.
  • If habituated, goats are more apt to “stand off” than most other large mammals, and will hold their ground rather than move away.
  • Male goats become more aggressive during the breeding season, which peaks in November, but can begin in October and run will into December.
  • All goats use their potentially lethal sharp horns to defend their personal space.
  • Mountain goats crave salts. In some areas they seek human salts in urine or sweat soaked clothing, leading to conflicts. Do not urinate on or near the trail. Please go off trail at least 50 yards and urinate on a rock or bare ground. Don’t leave sweaty clothes unattended—goats may chew them.
  • Keep a safe distance—at least 50 yards (half a football field)—from mountain goats at all times. Animals that are closely approached may lose their natural fear of people, and become habituated to humans. Once habituated, they may develop aggressive behaviors or attempt to assert dominance over people.
If a goat approaches you, slowly move away to keep a safe distance. If it follows you be prepared to chase it off by yelling, waving coats or other objects, or throwing rocks.

If you encounter a mountain goat within 50 yards, please report it to the closest ranger station.

Last updated: February 12, 2018

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Port Angeles, WA 98362

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