Mountain goats kill dogs in string of ‘unusual’ attacks in Utah mountains, officials say

Typically mellow mountain goats have mercilessly killed three dogs in a string of “unusual” attacks at a popular hiking and camping destination in Utah, officials said.

The most recent attack took place Saturday, Aug. 19, when a dog was harassing a mother mountain goat and her two babies on Mount Timpanogos, Sgt. Spencer Cannon told McClatchy News in a phone interview. Cannon is a spokesperson for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office where the popular summit is located in Provo, just south of Salt Lake City.

“Mama mountain goat decided: ‘I’m done with this,’ hooked him and pushed it over a cliff and the dog died,” Cannon said in the interview.

Mountain goats gored the other two dogs in the three weeks prior to the Aug. 19 attack, Cannon said. Those goats may have been defending their territory or otherwise felt threatened in some way.

“We don’t have a lot of experiences where mountain goats come at people or animals like this. They typically tend to shy away,” he said. “So to have three (incidents) in three weeks where dogs were killed during the interaction is unusual.”

All three dogs were unleashed during the attack — and hikers often don’t leash their dogs when they take them up on the mountain, Cannon said.

“Most of the time they’re just fine,” he said. “So this seems unusual.”

While the incidents are tragic, officials with the Timpanogos Emergency Response Team reminded hikers it’s their responsibility to keep animals safe.

Allowing your dogs to chase goats carries fines akin to poaching,” officials with the team said in an Aug. 20 post on Facebook. “Both dogs and people need to pay attention while on the trails.”

Mountain goats have attacked dogs on the trail before, officials said.

“In 2021, Ruby the dog rounded a corner of the Emerald Lake shelter at the same moment a goat appeared from the other side,” officials said. “She tried to run, but the goat ran her down and threw her in the air.”

Ruby’s hip was punctured, but she was able to recover with veterinary care, officials said.

“On the mountain, goats and wildlife have right of way. We are guests in their space,” officials said. “The mountain goats on Timp are usually very mellow and will walk fairly close to people. Please keep your distance, even if it means delays on your hike.”

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