Hundreds of mountain goats in Olympic National Park, WA have become so addicted to the salt found in human urine and sweat that they are an aggressive menace to national park visitors, charging at hikers and trampling vegetation. They have a taste for salt and minerals in human urine, and sweat on clothes and backpacks, according to officials.
The solution to this problem? Airlift 375 of the non-native grumpy animals to more remote areas closer to their natural habitat where they will be less of a nuisance. The goal of the relocation is to transport 100 goats by September 24, and the rest within the next 12-months. Authorities said they expected to shoot another 300 or so that cannot be caught.
The operation began last week, when crews equipped with tranquiliser darts and nets captured goats from ridges and rocks within the park before being airlifted to a staging area, driven to another part of the North Cascades, and then airlifted in crates before being released back into the wild.
Jesse Plumage, US Forest Service wildlife biologist, said: “Mountain goat relocation will allow these animals to reoccupy historical range areas in the Cascades and increase population viability.”
Goats are often blamed for environmental damage, chomping and trampling their way through sensitive vegetation. They were introduced to this area in the 1920s, before the park was established and before sweaty walkers took to strolling the hills, and their numbers have grown steadily since
Park officials urged walkers not to urinate along trails, to avoid turning paths into “long, linear salt licks” and attracting goats.
In 2010, a 63-year-old walker bled to death after being gored by a 370-pound male mountain goat. It had followed within five or six feet of him for as much as a mile, according to rangers at the time.