The state of Montana is so, so amazing. If you want a road trip, put Montana at the top of your list. People come here to see Glacier National Park and other parks and national forests. You can see everything here, from mountains to forests to plains. There are so many environments to check out, beautiful vistas, wild spaces, friendly towns, and a thriving, diverse population of wildlife.
That brings me to my story. I’m here to tell you, don’t feed mountain goats Fig Newtons. I learned the hard way.
I was not far outside the border of Glacier National Park, just having an afternoon drive, when my progress got a bit slowed by a herd of mountain goats in the middle of the highway. Believe it or not, this isn’t super-uncommon in Montana or Wyoming. It might not always be mountain goats that stop traffic. I’ve heard stories and warnings about buffalo blocking traffic, too, and these huge creatures aren’t inclined to move once they’ve sat down to rest or picked a grazing spot.
There are all kinds of warnings against feeding and interacting with wildlife, but I think you’ve gotten the picture by now that I’m not always great at playing by the rules. I could see my mountain goats coming from a long way off on a long, flat stretch of road. There weren’t too many of them at first, about eight goats standing in the road. I slowed down to take a look. I’d spotted them from a distance and through my binoculars, but I was so excited to see these animals up close.
They were pretty bold about my van. They made way and milled around. I’m sure they would have let me through if I kept rolling forward or beeped my horn. But I put my van in park and rolled down my window for a proper look at these fuzzy, horned critters. They have strange eyes and a curious yet skittish nature. I snapped some pictures while the goats gave me and the van a once-over from a comfortable distance a few feet away.
I wanted them to come a little bit closer, and then, I got a bright, or maybe stupid, idea. I decided to feed the mountain goats. It was like every sign and warning I’d heard about feeding wildlife disappeared from my mind and I was blinded by the cute fuzziness of these animals. I rooted around my van for something that seemed goat-friendly and came up with a package of Fig Newtons, which I’ve never liked that much anyway.
I started tossing them out my window. The goats were a little startled but moved in to investigate. And that’s when the goats had a revelation. Apparently, they love Fig Newtons. Those big alien-like eyes of theirs got even wider. And pretty soon, they were crowding closer and closer to the van and I was nearly out of Fig Newtons. Once I ran out of Fig Newtons, things got a little dicey. I got my wish to see the goats up close; they were crowded around my van, staring in my windows. It was when I heard a thud of something headbutting my bumper that I knew I’d made a mistake. Don’t feed the goats.
I decided to get out of there, and it wasn’t easy. I had to lay on my horn and inch forward. When goats would move out from in front of me, others would take their place, and they were all following me. Eventually, though, I got an opening and stepped on it, leaving the goats behind me.
Learn from me; don’t feed the wildlife. I realized later that while Fig Newtons are plain snacks and many goats didn’t get to eat one, I risked making them sick and shouldn’t have encouraged them to be in the road. Now, it’s another lesson learned on the road.