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Family To Sue Parks Service Over Aggressive Goat

Phyllis Fletcher

The family of a Port Angeles man who was killed last year by a mountain goat has filed a $10 million claim with the National Parks Service. The family's attorney says the Parks Service knew the goat in Olympic National Park was aggressive and dangerous. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher reports.


John Messina is a personal injury attorney in Tacoma. He says park rangers knew this goat so well, they had a nickname for it.

Messina: "They called him Klahanne Billy. He was probably the biggest goat up there."

They named him after the area where he hung out: Klahanne Ridge.

Messina: "There was about a four–year record of complaints and discussions of what to do with this animal. How to control it. Throw rocks at it."

The Parks Service did not immediately return a call for comment about this story. But a spokesperson for Olympic National Park told newspapers in October that park rangers knew the goat was aggressive and had been watching it for years.

Messina: "So, under those circumstances, the Parks Department owes people who come there a duty of care for their safety. That includes protect them from the wildest of the wild animals."

In the early 1980s, The Parks Service airlifted goats out of Olympic National Park by helicopter. Not because they were dangerous to people, but because they were destroying native plants. Mountain goats are not native to the Olympics.

But then in 1984 the Associated Press reported the goats that were left behind just ate better and reproduced faster. There was talk of shooting them at the time and giving their bodies to science. But Messina says some people objected, and the whole thing became a political hot–potato.

Now the goats are protected on national park land. But the Parks Service shot Klahanne Billy after he gored Bob Boardman to death in October last year. Olympic National Park revised its "Mountain Goat Action Plan" this year.

Messina says Boardman's family plans to file their lawsuit as early as November.

I'm Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW News.

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