Goats Removed from Washington Park After Developing Insatiable Thirst for Human Urine

U.S. Forest Service, Flickr // Public Domain
U.S. Forest Service, Flickr // Public Domain

In Washington’s Olympic National Park, mountain goats have become quite the nuisance, so much so that park authorities have begun airlifting them out of the area with the help of the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Services, according to Popular Mechanics. Their crime? They’ve developed an obsessive taste for human pee.

Mountain goats aren’t native to the national park, but they’ve lived there for almost a century. Just 12 goats were brought to the park by a hunting group from Alaska and British Columbia in the 1920s, as The Seattle Times reported, but those few goats multiplied rapidly, and by the 1980s, there were thousands of them. The park service has been trying to reduce the population for decades, but the goats are on the rebound. There were more than 600 goats counted in the park in 2016, and those numbers have been rising. There are estimated to be about 700 now.

Park officials argue that all those nonnative goats are chomping down on native plants, harming the park’s unique ecosystem. They’re also a significant menace to park visitors. They’re known to get too close to visitors on trails, and some are aggressive and hard to chase away. In 2010, a hiker died after being gored by one.

Their attraction to humans in the park has a gross logic behind it: Unlike in their native habitats, Olympic doesn’t offer any of the natural salt resources the goats need to survive. Instead, they’re forced to hunt around for alternative sources of salt—like human pee and sweat. “Many hikers know too well about mountain goats’ lust for salty excretions,” The Seattle Times explained in 2017. “In some areas, goats seem to magically appear when hikers separate from their parties to pee.”

As part of the effort to remove the problematic goats from Olympic National Park, officials are moving as many goats as they can to North Cascades National Park, where they’ll supplement declining native goat populations. More than 600 goats will be captured, sedated, and airlifted out of the park. They’ll be examined by veterinarians, fitted with GPS collars and transported to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as part of the initiative. There, they will hopefully find more palatable sources of salt than hikers’ pee.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

This $49 Video Game Design Course Will Teach You Everything From Coding to Digital Art Skills

EvgeniyShkolenko/iStock via Getty Images
EvgeniyShkolenko/iStock via Getty Images

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A Prehistoric Great White Shark Nursery Has Been Discovered in Chile

Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
Great white sharks used prehistoric nurseries to protect their young.
solarseven/iStock via Getty Images

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) may be one of the most formidable and frightening apex predators on the planet today, but life for them isn’t as easy as horror movies would suggest. Due to a slow growth rate and the fact that they produce few offspring, the species is listed as vulnerable to extinction.

There is a way these sharks ensure survival, and that is by creating nurseries—a designated place where great white shark babies (called pups) are protected from other predators. Now, researchers at the University of Vienna and colleagues have discovered these nurseries occurred in prehistoric times.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, Jamie A. Villafaña from the university’s Institute of Palaeontology describes a fossilized nursery found in Coquimbo, Chile. Researchers were examining a collection of fossilized great white shark teeth between 5 and 2 million years old along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru when they noticed a disproportionate number of young shark teeth in Coquimbo. There was also a total lack of sexually mature animals' teeth, which suggests the site was used primarily by pups and juveniles as a nursery.

Though modern great whites are known to guard their young in designated areas, the researchers say this is the first example of a paleo-nursery. Because the climate was much warmer when the paleo-nursery was in use, the researchers think these protective environments can deepen our understanding of how great white sharks can survive global warming trends.