Published July 23, 2012
Utah authorities are working to identify a man spotted dressed in a goat suit among a herd of wild goats in the mountains of northern Utah.
The photographer who snapped blurry photos of the individual, dubbed "goat man," told Fox affiliate KSTU-TV that he spotted the man Sunday as he was descending Ben Lomond peak, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City.
"He was clumsy, working his way down the cliff trying to catch up with the rest of the herd," photographer Coty Creighton told the station. "With the binoculars, I could clearly see it was a guy dressed up in a homemade goat suit."
Creighton said the man appeared to be wearing heavy gloves so he could crawl on his hands and knees. He also said that at one point, the man lifted his mask and looked up at him for several minutes.
"He kind of slouched down, like was getting nervous or was feeling really self-conscious," Creighton added. "He actually got off his hands and knees and sat on the hill for several minutes until he thought I was gone."
Phil Douglass of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said Friday that the person wearing the goat suit is doing nothing illegal, but he worries the man is unaware of the dangers.
"My very first concern is the person doesn't understand the risks," Douglass said. "Who's to say what could happen."
Wildlife officials now just want to talk to the man so that he is aware of the dangers. There's no telling what his intentions are, Douglass said, but it is believed he could just be an extreme wildlife enthusiast.
"People do some pretty out there things in the name of enjoying wildlife. But I've never had a report like this," Douglass said. "There's a saying we have among biologists -- You don't go far enough, you don't get the data. You go too far, you don't go home. The same is true with some wildlife enthusiasts."
Douglass said 60 permits will be issued for goat hunting season in that area, which begins in September. He worries the goat man might be accidentally shot or could be attacked by a real goat.
"They may get agitated. They're territorial. They are, after all, wild animals," he said. "This person puts on a goat suit, he changes the game. But as long as he accepts responsibility, it's not illegal."
Douglass said wildlife officials received an anonymous call Thursday from an "agitated man" after the sighting was reported in local media. The caller simply said, "Leave goat man alone. He's done nothing wrong."
"I want people to enjoy Utah's wildlife. We live in a really neat place. We have wildlife all around us," Douglass said. "We just want people to be safe."
Creighton, 33, was hiking Sunday when he came across a herd of goats. He said he realized something was odd about one goat that was trailing behind the rest.
"I thought maybe it was injured," Creighton said Friday. "It just looked odd."
He said he pulled out binoculars to get a closer look at the herd about 200 yards away and was shocked. The man appeared to be acting like a goat while wearing the crudely made costume, which had fake horns and a cloth mask with cut-out eye holes, Creighton said.
"I thought, `What is this guy doing?' " Creighton said. "He was actually on his hands and knees. He was climbing over rocks and bushes and pretty rough terrain on a steep hillside."
Creighton moved down the mountain and hid behind a tree, then began snapping photographs.
"We were the only ones around for miles," Creighton said. "It was real creepy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.