A Mountain Goat Died Because Tourists Are Still Being Jerks

A confused mountain goat wound up in the center of town in Seward, Alaska. The rude and unthinking curiosity of a throng of onlookers led to a fatal outcome. When will this sort of thing stop?

It’s not clear why a lone mountain goat ended up wandering the streets of Seward in July 2016. Mountain goats rarely depart the remote wooded areas of Alaska. However, this one ended up right in the middle of town. Residents of Seward are used to seeing the occasional moose, otter or porcupine around populated areas, but a mountain goat was something unusual.

A mountain goat resting in his more natural habitat near Seward, Alaska.

A mountain goat resting in his more natural habitat near Seward, Alaska.

Some guessed he might have been fleeing a predator. Kerri O’Neill told KTUU that she and her daughter saw the goat trotting through a restaurant parking lot toward the beach area. Word spread quickly that “something you don’t see every day” was going on.

In short order, so many people were jockeying to see and snap photos of the mountain goat that he kept moving to escape them. Eventually, onlookers crowded the goat all the way to the rocky water’s edge of Resurrection Bay. He couldn’t get past the gawkers to slip away. O’Neill said the presence of unleashed dogs on the beach only added to the mayhem that scared the goat.

You can see the goat picking his way along the rocky shore near the Seward Small Boat Harbor in this video snippet:

Frightened, the goat leapt into the water and swam into Resurrection Bay. He swam for about half an hour. Even there he wasn’t alone — one of the dogs swam out to him. Unable to return to shore because of the dogs and people clustered there, he tired and drowned. Photo-happy tourists watched him do it. They drove him to do it, to be more accurate — and they apparently didn’t care enough to realize that.

Erin Kuester, a Seward visitor who posted a comment to an article published by the Seward City News, said she saw the whole thing. She insists responsibility for the death of this goat lies squarely at the feet of the officials — the Alaska State Troopers and animal control — who could have done more to control the crowd. Her comment said, in part:

The local authorities were aware of the situation all afternoon. The mountain goat was trapped for at least 20 minutes abutted near the Sea Life Center, and in the water over 30 minutes before the state troopers arrived. Sure, the troopers can blame camera-toting travelers, but they (the troopers) have knowledge of local wildlife behavior. . . . . Pure neglect, not gaping tourists, led to this needless waste of life.

Kuester also noted that one tourist couple attempted to help the goat for over an hour by begging people to leave it alone, to no avail. It seems a lackluster response by officials, coupled with the persistence of gawkers who wouldn’t allow the goat to leave, left the poor goat with no alternatives.

Along Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska

Along Resurrection Bay in Seward, Alaska

In an online Daily Dispatch notice, the Alaska State Troopers officially reported the incident in this way:

Investigation revealed a large amount of people followed the goat towards the SeaLife Center on the rocks resulting in the goat jumping back in to the water. The goat was unable to come back to the rocks due to the people standing on the rocks. The goat ended up drowning in the water.

It is imperative that wildlife is given adequate space to be able to leave a congested area like downtown Seward.

Selfie-seeking tourists with camera phones are turning into lethal weapons. Over and over this past year, boorish, unthinking people have been responsible for the deaths of several innocent animals. Remember these incidents?

  • Argentina, February 2016 – A beach crowd near Buenos Aires clustered around a baby dolphin, passing it around to take selfies. It died from dehydration before they were through with it.
  • Dominican Republic, June 2016 – Seven men, including beach life guards, snagged a small tiger shark from the water to use as a photo prop. It died.
  • Macedonia, March 2016 – A woman grabbed a swan roughly by its wing to pull it from a lake for a selfie. Some reports say the swan died, others say after lying motionless it swam away.
  • Pennsylvania, June 2016 – Five high school football players killed a snake, raccoon, opossum, pigeons and frogs so they could take selfies with the carcasses while holding baseball bats.
  • China in 2016, and Months and Months Before – An obviously sad and depressed polar bear is kept in a small enclosure at the Grandview Mall aquarium in Guangzhou so shoppers can take photos of him.

Now we can add this poor mountain goat to the 2016 list of shame. Clearly, unless human nature changes, he won’t be the last animal to perish due to human idiocy.

Like so much else going on in the world today, I must ask — why is this happening again and again? Do most of us care so little for our fellow creatures that it just doesn’t matter if they die or suffer so long as we get our precious photo to use on Facebook?

We must leave wild animals alone. We should never corner them for photos. We cannot endanger them just so we can look at them for a while longer. They’re not here for our amusement. They have as much right to live in peace as any of us. Perhaps one day, the majority of the human race will recognize that fact.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

118 comments

John B
John B8 months ago

Thanks for sharing the sad news.

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Angela L
Angela L11 months ago

Humans are plain stupid and selfish!!!!! No consideration for anyone else. So sad.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Dianne D.
Dianne Dabout a year ago

hope there is video of who did this and these people are prosecuted, especially the one who didn't control his dog.

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer Habout a year ago

People are idiots but the lack of trooper assistance for the goat shouldn't be ignored. The need for selfies is disgustingly egotistical. I can't think of anyone that I would want to see as a selfie. If you are a wildlife gawker - keep your distance; leave them alone. Wildlife is more valuable than your damn selfies. I hope Karma bites your butts for pushing him to his death.

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Patricia H.
Patricia Harrisabout a year ago

Quanta Kiran, so stupid, it's quite frightening...

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiranabout a year ago

people are stupid

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Judie B.
Judie Babout a year ago

I don't understand the need for selfies, anyway. If you are that narcissistic, get rid of the phone and get professional help! If your selfishness causes the death of a living being (as in this case) you should be fined heavily, and be banned from using any kind of phone with a camera for at least a year, or face jail time.

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Patricia H.
Patricia Harrisabout a year ago

Valentina R., Humanity is not quite the word I'd use to describe such cruel stupidity.

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Valentina R.
Valentina Rabout a year ago

Humanity is revolting.

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