The attacks took place on the trails of Mount Timpanogos, just north of Provo, which is the second-highest mountain in Utah's Wasatch Range. In the past three weeks, two dogs were fatally gored by mountain goats in separate incidents while on Saturday, a black labrador was thrown from a cliff, according to Utah County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Spencer Cannon.
“It was reported that the dog was harassing a female mountain goat and she had two babies – or kids – with her,” Cannon tells Wyoming newspaper the Cowboy State Daily.
“The goat apparently decided, ‘I’ve had enough of this’ and went after the dog.”
Mount Timpanogos looms at about 7,000 feet above sea level over Utah Valley and its high altitude terrain makes it a haven for mountain goats, which despite their name are not actually goats at all. Rather, they are in the same cloven-hoofed family that comprises animals like gazelles, antelopes and bison. They sport sharp horns, powerful bodies and long, shaggy white hair.
Despite requiring a 14-mile round trip hike to reach it, the summit is one of the most popular in the Rocky Mountains, meaning the local mountain goat population has had ample opportunity to get used to human traffic.
Mountain goats are quiet, elusive herbivores, but they are known to be unpredictable and skittish and may attack if they feel threatened. In response to the attacks, the wildlife awareness and safety outreach project Wild Aware Utah took to Facebook to warn other hikers of the dangers of allowing dogs to get too close to mountain goats, reporting that in at least one of the recent incidents, a mother was protecting her young.
“These types of incidents are both unfortunate and avoidable. If you come across wildlife while you're hiking or camping, be sure to keep your dog leashed and under control. It is also against Utah law to allow dogs to chase or harass hoofed wildlife.”
There is no legal requirement to have dogs leashed on Mount Timpanogos, but officials are urging hikers to leave their dogs at home or keep them on-leash when hiking on Timpanogos. All hikers are cautioned to give mountain goats a wide berth – use binoculars to get a closeup view – avoid feeding mountain goats and keep your belongings close to you. Read more about what to do if you meet a mountain goat on the trail.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.