A couple weeks ago, I was up at White Mountain in California. The standard route up White Mountain leads past the Barcroft Research Station, which is one of the highest, if not the highest research laboratory in the world. On our way back down from White Mountain, my climbing partner brought my attention to a sign that was near the road/trail to Barcroft. It said, “Attention Hikers. Report all Mountain Goats sightings to DHS.” At the time, we were ready to get off the mountain and back to the car, so we didn’t stop to take a picture of this sign. However, within fifty feet of the sign we were having a vigorous discussion about why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would want to know about mountain goats. We quickly agreed that it would make rational sense if the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Department of Fish and Game wanted to know about mountain goat sightings. But the Department of Homeland Security? Were these terrorist goats? Or terrorists disguised as goats? Or, even worse, goats disguised as terrorists? As we walked, the more the “goat sign” felt like a Doctor Strangelove type situation to me. Were these goats trying to get at our precious bodily fluids? And, while the Department of Homeland Security has to secure the nation from the many threats it faces, since when did goats become a threat?
After White Mountain, we headed to Mt. Shasta, and I forgot about the mountain goat sign. After all, I had batsquatch to worry about. But as I drove to work today, I heard a story on NPR about how the rangers of Olympic National Park reclaimed a popular trail from MOUNTAIN GOATS by driving them off with paintball guns. In case you don’t believe me, read the full story from accredited news organizations here, here, here, and here.
After hearing this story today, I now know why DHS is interested in mountain goat sightings. Or at least I think I know. Or suspect that I know. Ok, I know nothing. But I do know that if you see a mountain goat, and you are not packing a paintball gun, you should yell loudly at it and waive your arms if it “menaces” you. Also, if the mountain goat says, “Baaaaa”, it’s probably just saying hello in goat, and not stating some terrorist manifesto. And, if you think “Baaaaaa” is a terrorist rant, you probably have altitude sickness and once you take care of that problem, then you should call the DHS if you are on White Mountain.
As an aside, if any other climbers saw/have pictures of this sign and want to send it to me or discuss it with me, I would greatly appreciate it, as I now really wish that I had taken a picture of it. I also won’t report you to DHS for seeing goats and not reporting them, I swear.