UPDATED, with correction and new information -- Survivor recalls 1999 encounter with mountain goat in Olympic National Forest
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A mother mountain goat and her offspring graze on Klahhane Ridge in Olympic National Park earlier this week. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

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Memorial for mountain goat victim set Oct. 30

A MEMORIAL SERVICE for Bob Boardman, who was killed by a mountain goat Saturday, is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30.

The service will be at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center on the Lower Elwha reservation west of Port Angeles.

It will be open to the public.

A website, http://bobboardman.wordpress.com, is devoted to Boardman, a registered nurse at Olympic Medical Center who also did medical work with the Lower Elwha and Makah tribes.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story and accompanying sidebar are updated to reflect the following changes:

1. A time has been set for the memorial service for Bob Boardman — it will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Center.

2. It was learned today from Olympic National Forest officials that Mike Soican was in Olympic National Forest, not Olympic National Park, when he was gored by a mountain goat in 1999.
Stoican was near the summit of Mount Ellinor, which is in the national forest near the southeast corner of Olympic National Park. He thought he was in the national park.

3. The story is also updated with events this week — ranger patrols of Klahhane Ridge and the necropsy done on the goat that killed Boardman.

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK -- When Mike Stoican got word of Saturday's deadly mountain goat attack on Klahhane Ridge, he said he realized how lucky he is to be alive.

Stoican was near the summit of 5,944-foot Mount Ellinor -- in Olympic National Forest, near the southeast corner of Olympic National Park -- 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 sharp horns minutes after he left a group of friends on the top of Mount Ellinor.

"It missed the femoral artery by about an inch."

Boardman, 63, a registered nurse, community musician and avid hiker, was gored in the thigh by the horns of a nearly 300-pound male mountain goat. It was the first fatal animal attack in the park's 72-year history.

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 Park rangers are now patrolling trails around Klahhane Ridge, east of Hurricane Ridge and about 17 miles south of Port Angeles, looking for any other aggressive goats and talking with hikers.

ONP Superintendent Karen Gustin said rangers want to make sure there are no other goat attacks.

If other aggressive goats are found, the park would first look at the option of removing them from the park, said Barb Maynes, ONP spokeswoman.

The mountain goat that killed Boardman was tracked down and shot by rangers.

A necropsy, or animal autopsy, was conducted Sunday on the animal. A pathologist's report is expected next week.

Among other things, the necropsy might show whether the goat had entered the rut, the fall mating season.

Maynes said mountain goats in the national park typically do not behave differently toward people during the rut, which peaks in mid-November. But male goats are known to exhibit "dominance displays" toward other males, challenging and intimidating their rivals.

The necropsy is also expected to reveal any signs of disease, such as rabies, or abnormalities of the central nervous system.

"We're looking at anything that could possibly affect this animal's behavior and predispose it to acting so abnormally," Maynes said.

Stoican, 53, lives in Allyn, in east-center Mason County.

Olympic National Forest spokeswoman Donna Nemeth said Friday that although the agency had no formal record of the mountain goat attack, a former ranger remembered it.

Stoican said he reported it to Olympic National Forest rangers on his way to a hospital emergency room.

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."

Barb Maynes, the ONP spokeswoman, said there was "no record of any kind of attack in the park from mountain goats" until Saturday.

She said Saturday's incident was the first death in the park caused by a wild animal. ONP 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."


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 22. 2010 5:10PM
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