Count 'em: 90 mountain goats in one photo near Mount Baker
That’s a lot of mountain goats – 90 to be exact. The aerial photo was taken in late July near Mount Baker by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
There's been a recent rebound for a species that was decimated decades ago by hunting, the department’s Rich Harris told KUOW’s Emily Fox.
“Now that we hunt them only in certain locations and in a much more conservative way, we see them responding positively,” said Harris, a species manager with the agency’s wildlife program.
The goats still must contend with climate change, though Harris says it’s hard to pin specific problems in the species on that.
“We know that mountain goats are a cold-loving species. They don’t do well in hot weather, they try to get away from it,” he said.
Heat may have been one reason the goats in the photo – 66 adults and 24 kids – got together, Harris said. A nice, cool snowfield is a great place to lie down when temperatures rise.
Harris said the goats also find safety in groups – more eyes to watch for predators. He said there also might have been a natural salt lick nearby.
Which brings us to humans and mountain goats.
Harris said mountain goats aren’t necessarily dangerous, despite the well-publicized 2010 death of a man who was gored in Olympic National Park.
But because goats like salt, they can sometimes turn to humans to find it – in the form of sweat and urine. He advises to keep a respectful distance – don’t let them lick you – and pee well away from the trail you’re hiking.
“We want to keep the goats wild and the people safe,” Harris said.
To find out more about interacting with mountain goats in the wild, you can watch this video:
Correction, 10 a.m., 8/23/2016: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect host.