Mountain goat assonance

Mountain goat jams are on the rise in Spearfish Canyon. Courtesy photo

OPINION — “Get out of the road, kid!”

The young mountain goat neglected my suggestion and assumed a more statuesque pose for the lady with the lap dog struggling to balance her camera and Shitzu simultaneously.  

It is elk and deer season, and there are times when I drive the canyon a dozen times in a week as I travel from town to hunting locations.

On several occasions last week, I was halted in my travels by a goat jam.

Experienced travelers in the Yellowstone National Park byway have perhaps struggled through a similar traffic delay caused by bears or bison.

A signature species will make its appearance along a highly traveled roadway, and tourists are unable to contain themselves.

Losing their minds and forgetting all of the common courtesies of highway travel, they will abandon their vehicles in the middle of the road, engines running, and scurry over to threatening wildlife attempting to get a selfie without being gored, grabbed, or gashed.

The juvenile goat wouldn’t have come up to my waist and had no horns for jabbing or gashing like those that his mother displayed only yards away.

I have been bombarded of late with images of the mountain goat tribe currently living near Bridal Vail Falls.

They are highly photogenic with hundreds of local fans.

I have counted up to seven animals stretched out along the roadway cliffs and trailheads with several animals carrying the signature weapons designed to be lethal to predators from grizzly bears to humans.

This year, a young Canadian grizzly bear made the mistake of trying to make a meal of an adult mountain goat and was killed by just such a pair of horns.

Nine-inch daggers driven by a mountain of muscle can sever arteries.

If your dog were to provoke a defense response and you had to take a charge, are you willing and trained to use fido as an airbag against the attack?

It’s just a suggestion, but you might want to bring a bigger dog?

For better and safer photos, leave the dogs in the car, and pull off to the side of the road prior to taking your pictures.

More lethal than wildlife are the advancing log trucks which can not stop in time for you to avoid their impact, especially on slippery roads.

Living too long in cities has weakened or perhaps numbed man’s natural awareness.

We make less eye contact and deny the information gathered by our other senses that would normally have given us                                   warning.

The children of ranchers and hunters who were raised to pay attention to the behavior of animals are in decline and generations of city deer and domesticated dogs and cats have left the next generation ill prepared to commune with nature.

Each year we are reminded of our loss by images of tourists being launched like cheerleaders into the sky by disgruntled buffalo who object to paparazzi.

In 2010, a 63-year-old Washington man who was hiking with his wife attempted to shoo away an aggressive goat.

He told his wife to go on without him as he attempted to distracted it.

The wife heard shouting and returned only to find her husband unconscious and suffering from puncture wounds.

Not only was he gored, but the animal also refused to leave the scene and kept rescuers away from the body for an extended period until it was finally frightened away by a rescue helicopter.

Wildlife that has been conditioned by the presence of humans become more dangerous with each intrusion.

On good days grandma can advance and get her picture without incident, but goats are among the most violent of all cloven hooved animals.

They naturally abuse each other with jabs and head buts along rocky trails as part of their daily maintenance of the family hierarchy.  

If too-familiar humans get between them, or threaten their young, damage can be done.  

As we enter the breeding season, late October through November, it is good to keep in mind that all animals have bad days.

If the uninformed or unobservant push their luck with an unruly buck or speeding truck…. they might get struck.

The Speirs family has owned and operated Crow Creek Wildlife Management Service since 1996.

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