Researchers have determined that mountain goats in Glacier National Park are flocking to the high traffic area of Logan Pass because they love the taste of human urine. The ungulates are drawn to the salt in your urine and will sometimes lick the same patch for ten days.
Studies have shown that a mountain goat will travel as much as 18 miles for a mineral lick. But 3 miles is more typical.
Back in 2013, Glacier National Park commissioned a multi-year study on how mountain goats are affected by roads, people, and trails in the Logan Pass area. The popular area is accessible by car and has about 3,500 visitors a day.
“There was a concern with the goats and sheep at Logan Pass,” Mark Biel, GNP natural resources program manager, told the Great Falls Tribune. “We wanted to see what was driving them to hang out with people…we noticed they were acting a lot different and exhibiting different behaviors from the ‘backcountry’ goats.”
Researchers concluded that the urine at Logan Pass was attracting the goats and the large groups of humans were helping keep mountain goat predators, like bears, coyotes, and wolverines at bay. This combination made Logan Pass a safe salty buffet for the mountain goats.
In 2010 a hiker was gored to death by a mountain goat at Olympic National Park.
The research, published in the Biological Conservation journal in July, noted that Logan Pass was forced to close for a week in 2015 because of a nearby wildfire. During the closure, the scientist noticed the goats that typically hung around Logan Pass returned to the cliffs. The experts believe the lack of humans led to increased predators at Logan Pass and ultimately deterred the mountain goats.
About Mountain Goats
Mountain goats are considered one of the most sure-footed climbers in the wilderness. Their feet have inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can spread apart. The tips of their feet have sharp dewclaws that keep them from slipping. They have great shoulder and neck muscles that help propel them up steep slopes.
Mountain goats inhabit mountain ranges from Colorado to Central Alaska.
In 2010 a hiker was gored to death by a mountain goat at Olympic National Park. In late July, Olympic National Park drafted a “Mountain Goat Management Plan” to remove the Mountain Goats from the park.