The Tacoma attorney who filed $10 million in wrongful-death claims on behalf of the estate, the wife and stepson of the Port Angeles hiker fatally gored by a 350-plus-pound mountain goat in Olympic National Park said he's been reading the often-negative public reaction.
The Tacoma attorney who filed $10 million in wrongful-death claims on behalf of the estate, the wife and stepson of the Port Angeles hiker fatally gored by a 350-plus-pound mountain goat in Olympic National Park said he’s been reading the often-negative public reaction.
A common theme: What do you expect? There are dangerous animals in the wilderness.
“They have no clue as to what happened, said John Messina. “A particularly dangerous animal was not removed from the park.
“I mean, three strikes and you’re out, and this animal had a lot more than three strikes. Even according to the park’s policies, it should have been removed.”
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The incident took place on Oct. 16 when Bob Boardman, 63, was hiking at Klahhane Ridge in the park, along with his wife, Susan Chadd and a friend, Pat Willis.
According to an incident report filed by Colin Smith, the park’s chief ranger, “the goat approached Boardman’s party while they were sitting and having lunch. They did not approach the goat; instead when it came up to them they attempted to leave the area.
“The goat then followed alongside or behind Boardman for approximately ¾ to 1 mile until the fatal encounter. … There is no evidence Boardman committed any acts of aggression towards the goat. … The goat gored Boardman with its left horn. …
“The wound severed an artery, which caused rapid blood loss and was fatal. The goat then stood over or near Boardman for at least 30 minutes after the goring, keeping any rescuers from reaching Boardman. It is likely that Boardman died within five minutes of being gored.”
Rangers shot and killed the goat that afternoon.
The claim seeks $5 million for Boardman’s estate, $3 million for Chadd and $2 million for Jacob Haverfield, 30, who is Chadd’s son and Boardman’s stepson. In addition, the claim seeks some $22,000 for counseling, funeral costs, obituaries and other expenses.
Messina said the National Park Service had received complaints about the goat for four years and should have known it was a danger.
The claim was filed on May 1 and has been referred to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of the Solicitor, said Barb Maynes, spokeswoman for Olympic National Park. She said the department has six months to answer the claim.
Messina said that if the matter is not resolved, then a lawsuit will be filed in federal court.
This past June, Olympic National Park issued a revised 27-page “Mountain Goat Action Plan.”
“The key action to prevent hazardous encounters with mountain goats is to not let them get habituated to human presence,” the report said.
Among advice to hikers in the report was not to urinate on trails in the backcountry.
“Urine deposits on the trail entice goats to use trail area, and turn trails into long linear salt licks,” said the report.
The goats are not natives to the Olympic Peninsula, Maynes noted.
They were introduced in the 1920s — before the area was designated a national park in 1938 — by and for hunters, she said.
She said the population has grown from just a few mountain goats to, in a 2004 count, as many as 320.
Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or firstname.lastname@example.org