It’s called "wildlife"

Posted by Ken Campbell August 12, 2011 0 Comment 765 views


First of all, I need to say that the killing of Robert Boardman was an absolute and undeserved tragedy. He was the hiker that was gored to death by an aggressive and hostile goat on Klahane Ridge last October. I feel for his family in their loss and I can only imagine their grief.
But now, a Tacoma attorney has filed a $10 million-dollar lawsuit against the National Park Service, alleging wrongful death because the animal in question had been known as a “dangerous animal” prior to the event and should have been removed. The suit seeks $5 million for Boardman’s estate, $3 million for his wife and $2 million for his step-son, plus $22,000 in other expenses.
Goats are not native to Olympic National Park. They cause all kinds of grief to the environment and if they didn’t look so damn noble and cool perched on crags in the high country, they would have been eliminated years ago. I am in favor of their being taken out of the mix, either with tranquilizers and helicopters or bullets and pitchforks… whatever. The fact of the matter, however, is that they are there now and they need to be accounted for.
Robert Boardman didn’t deserve to die. All accounts are that he tried to get away from the goat and the goat acted in what could be called a malicious and predatory manner. (If you want to get all anthropomorphic about it.) But here’s the thing: the goat was a wild animal. Wild animals do wild things, like eat their food raw, crap wherever they want to and, sometimes, kill hikers. This particular goat was shot by rangers later in the day, so he won’t be a repeat offender, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again sometime.
I wrote about it back then… I knew this goat (or his twin), and I had a dicey encounter along this same stretch of trail some months before Boardman’s death. The event shook me a bit, although I didn’t spend too much time thinking about it later and it never occurred to me that the Park Service was to blame. Who knew? Maybe the next time I get chased by a bear, or stalked by a mountain lion, or bitten by a mosquito, maybe I’ll get me a quack lawyer with an eye for a fancy government payout.
There is no situation so tragic and horrible that adding a lawyer won’t make it worse. The minute you leave your car and start up the trail or down the river or out into the bay, you are no longer at the top of the food chain. Figure out what you are going to do to deal with that fact, but leave your wrong-headed notions of safety and entitlement back home.

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