When Mike Stoican got word of Saturday's deadly mountain goat attack on Klahhane Ridge, the 53-year-old Allyn man said he realized how lucky he is to be alive.
When Mike Stoican got word of Saturday’s deadly mountain goat attack on Klahhane Ridge, the 53-year-old Allyn man said he realized how lucky he is to be alive.
Stoican was near the summit of 5,944-foot Mount Ellinor in the Olympic National Forest when he was gored by a large mountain goat in 1999, he said.
His account of the encounter was similar to the one that killed Robert Boardman, 63, of Port Angeles, along the Switchback Trail about 17 miles south of Port Angeles.
“The doctor said I was very lucky,” said Stoican, who said he was cut in the thigh by a mountain goat’s horns minutes after he left a group of friends on the top of Mount Ellinor.
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“It missed the femoral artery by about an inch.”
Boardman, a registered nurse, community musician and avid hiker, was gored in the thigh by the horns of a nearly 300-pound male mountain goat.
Fellow hikers said the mountain goat stood over Boardman as he lay bleeding on the ground, staring at the people who were trying to help.
Witnesses said Boardman died a hero because he put himself between the charging mountain goat and other hikers.
Olympic National Forest officials said they have a record of Stoican’s encounter.
Stoican said Boardman’s death gave him new perspective.
“It made me step back and think about it a little more,” Stoican said Thursday.
“I have kids in high school. I could easily not have been around for them.”
Stoican said he was putting on his ski pants when the mountain goat charged.
It knocked him back and opened a 4-inch deep wound in his upper right leg.
Instinctively, Stoican swung at the buck with an ice ax. He missed but scared away the animal by yelling at it.
Hearing the shouts, Stoican said his three friends came to his aid and helped him cover the wound with bandages and duct tape.
They had encountered the same mountain goat shortly before the attack.
“We were eating lunch on the top,” Stoican said.
“While we were eating lunch, a big male goat came up to us. I’ve never seen a real aggressive goat like this.
“He was licking us and our packs and getting in our food and everything. Eventually, he just left.
“Usually, you move and they kind of move back. This one was in your face.”
Stoican had to leave the summit before his friends. He said the mountain goat waited until he was alone.
“It was odd because it was similar to what happened to the guy in Port Angeles,” Stoican said.
“That’s exactly what happened to me. His mission was to hit me. He wasn’t going to be stopped.”
As he was changing into ski pants for the descent, the mountain goat jumped from a rock about 15 feet away.
“He drilled me right in the upper thigh,” Stoican said.
“It was the last thing that I expected. Fortunately, it turned its head.”
Saturday’s incident was the first fatal animal attack in the national park, which was established in 1938.
“There was a record of a cougar attack in the Elwha Valley, but the cougar was never found,” Maynes said.
Bears became a nuisance in parts of the Elwha Valley about 10 years ago, but the park has no record of a bear attack.
“There was period in 1999 and 2000 when there was kind of a rash of bears getting into human food in the Elwha Valley,” Maynes said.
The park closed two sections of the Elwha trail to overnight backpacking to get the bears out of the habit of stealing food, Maynes said.
Around the same time, a bear was reported to be threatening people at Sol Duc campground.
“It was relocated, but it came back, and it was lethally removed,” Maynes said.
Stoican has been hiking in the Olympic Mountains since he was a boy and has never heard of anyone else getting gored by a mountain goat.
He said he noticed a change in their behavior about 15 years ago. He thinks they have become less timid around humans because they are being fed.
“It used to be they wouldn’t come close to you,” he said.
“They look cute and cuddly, and it’s easy to throw food at them, but people need to not do that.
“They’re way too comfortable with people.”
Last year, Stoican said, a mother mountain goat and two youngsters followed him and his daughters nearly a quarter of a mile down a trail.
“In spite of what they look like, they are not your backyard domestic goat,” Stoican said.
“They are five times the size, if not 10 times the size. Obviously, they can be just as dangerous as anything else.”
Information from: Peninsula Daily News, http://www.peninsuladailynews.com