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Thread: Pack Goats

  1. #1
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    Pack Goats

    I was out on a loop hike in Castle Ravine in Randolph yesterday and rounded a corner and met a couple with 3 pack goats. They had attempted an ascent up another route and the going was rougher than expected so they elected to drop down into the ravine to head back to the trailhead. The goats are 1 year old male goats, presumably wethers and still in training. They were relieved to hear that they were not far away from somewhat smoother terrain. We talked a bit and suggested that Valley Way might be an good route to try as at one time Madison Hut was supplied by mule train. The goats were quite sociable.

    I have only encountered pack goats once in the whites and it was smaller size "billy goat" complete with curved horns. There seemed to be more interest in them 20 years ago. I believe they are allowed anywhere that other pets can go but expect like the former llama packing operation that worked the Wild River area, if used commercially they are subject to outfitter guide permits. I believe the llama packing operation was limited to the Wild River and Kilkenny area and prohibited from the more popular parts of the whites.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 09-02-2019 at 06:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    I once encountered pack goats while hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. The couple with them said they were great and required very little in the way of maintenance.Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #3
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    Pack animals aren't allowed on the AT.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshandBaron View Post
    Pack animals aren't allowed on the AT.
    Actually there are a few spots on the AT in the Smokies for example that allow horses. http://www.appalachiantrail.org/docs...rsn=c58ebc64_4 When I went through years ago, I can testify that there was legal horse manure on the AT (and a very muddy trail bed). There are still some stretches of the AT that are on public roads (Rattle River trail head to Centennial trail in Shelburne) and therefore horses can be on the AT on these stretches.

    I have seen discussions in the past with respect to pack animals if a dog with a pack constitutes a pack animal?. Given that there are now miniature horses used as "assistance animals" I expect the definition could be expanded to having a goat as an assistance animal that happens to be carrying a pack.

    The PCT on the other hand is built for horse packing by default. It makes for a really nice grade and trailbed in many areas although getting used to stepping in horse manure does take some getting used to.

  5. #5
    Senior Member KV's Avatar
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    A friend recently spent the night at the Perch. She told me of the horrible mess left by the goats somebody had brought in. She was told they (the goats) were being trained for hunting. ?? The owners/trainers took off for a day hike and left the animals behind. The next day after they departed (goats in tow) my friend checked out the area and was appalled at the extent of stripped bark on all the surrounding trees, the amount of goat sh*t everywhere and the general disorder and disarray in their aftermath.

    How is this acceptable?
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  6. #6
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    I had asked the goat packers I met about if the goats were browsing the local vegetation. They were quite adamant that they carried the goats feed with them and the goats did not browse. I agree if the goats were browsing and were left alone that is unacceptable and the owners deserve to be called out at a minimum. Not sure if they can be banned unless they are a commercial operation.

    The former llama treking operation that worked in the Wild River assigned a llama to each guest and the guests were supposed to keep the llamas from browsing. They did carry feed but it was an ongoing issue.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey! We eat the blueberries and rasberries don't we. So what's with the Bovidae discrimination? I'd like to see more trails for horses and pack animals, though I don't utilize either one but can evision at least the bridal trail. Like a lot of things, I'd like to see people have the freedom to enjoy it in their own way, but responsibly, as is a purpose, for example, of many snow mobile and ATV clubs. There is the right time and place but a short chain on creatures that can cause damage is justified. Out west I've seen corales and the like for horses, notably at Guadalupe Peak in TX where bond between man and beast is fascinating once you've seen the trail.

    Besides, maybe these goats can clear poison ivy and invasives in places and do some trail maintenance while they're at it. They'd certainly be an organic way to clear deer yards and create more edge habitat. Let them earn their way ... sort of like thru-hikers at huts.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    I once encountered pack goats while hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. The couple with them said they were great and required very little in the way of maintenance.Click image for larger version. 

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    Beautiful country, hey. I notice the "pack animal" in the foreground ... instinctively knows how to maintain order and discipline I bet.

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    My vet friend says goats clearing out patches of poison ivy is mostly a myth. They will eat it if they have to but they don't like it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Eagan View Post
    My vet friend says goats clearing out patches of poison ivy is mostly a myth. They will eat it if they have to but they don't like it.
    There was a segment on my local news several months ago about a company that actually rents goats to eat poison ivy around schools and areas like that where they don't want to use chemicals. They basically fence off the area in question, toss 2-3 goats in there for a week and it's a barren wasteland at the end of the week. No idea what it costs but it seemed like a cool, chemical free way to get rod of a problem. I assume this is probably not too common of a business but who knows.
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