If you’re angling to spot a mountain goat but Thursday’s snow cut your hiking season short, look no farther than the Hunter Creek or Centennial neighborhoods. Or Burlingame. Or the airport, apparently.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife started receiving calls about a male mountain goat in early October. Near as anyone can tell, it seems healthy and hasn’t caused any harm, so officials are content to let it be.
“I was actually on vacation when this all happened,” CPW game warden Kurtis Tesch said, referring to one of the initial sightings near Hunter Creek Apartments on Oct. 2. “Sounds like it was one goat, and then some of our officers went up there and checked it out and then realized it wasn’t a danger to anybody. It kept on meandering around, so they just sort of let him go.”
Last week, CPW received a few more reports of the goat — this time on Main Street on the west end of town.
“We did have some sightings last week,” said Karla Ferguson, an administrative assistant at the CPW Glenwood Springs office. “Right there on the Main Street! Then we got another report that he was seen out by the airport.”
Typically, mountain goats reside in the, well, mountains — usually at or above timberline. Roaming Aspen’s downtown is atypical behavior, to say the least.
“[This is] not where they’re supposed to be,” Tesch said. “Not really sure where he came from; obviously the high country, but not sure which side of [Highway] 82 he came from. Possibly, he came down from Smuggler.”
The goat appears to be in good health and hasn’t shown signs of aggression.
“I know we talked about capturing it, but we didn’t really want to run the risk of doing that with it not being a threat to anybody around. We’re just leaving him and seeing what he does,” he continued.
That said, mountain goats aren’t always demure, so if Aspen’s newest local is encountered, it should be treated as what it is: wildlife.
“They can be aggressive and do charge, so reminder to folks to keep their distance and don’t cause any unnecessary issues,” Tesch said, adding that the warning is as much for the goat’s well being as people’s.
“This one being in town isn’t going to be a threat to the population or anything like that. I think the biggest thing is for … people not to take selfies with it and create a situation where we need to put it down because it attacked somebody.”
Unlike bears, whose in-town presence is so pervasive that there are dedicated policies specifically on how to handle them, mountain goats are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
“There’s no two-strike policy; that’s only for bears. The only time we have any issue with goats is if they charged and injured somebody,” Tesch said. “Rather than interfering with their behaviors, we like to let them do their own thing.”
As recently as Thursday, a video surfaced of the goat strolling down the sidewalk at Centennial. Like many Aspenites, it, too, is a transplant, as are all of its Colorado brethren — it turns out the first herd was brought to the state from Montana sometime between 1948 and 1972.