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Goat man in the forest

* Utah: Is it too late to back up? *

Utah: is it too late to back up? Photo by Lillian Houghton.

THE WEST

It was such a sweet story at first: A man in a hairy white goat suit with fake horns who appeared to be trying to join a mountain goat herd in the Wasatch Mountains some 40 miles north of Salt Lake City. Yes, the faux goat was clumsy, not being a real caprid with fabulous grippy, gravity-defying, cloven hooves, but there he was, clambering over rocks on a steep slope, hoping -- perhaps unwisely -- to be accepted by animals renowned for their sinuous grace and wise faces. Or so some of us assumed. Philip Douglass of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources was even worried that "goat man," as the press called him, might be shot and turned into an unusual trophy when hunting season for the animals began in September. Alas, the mystery ended when goat man revealed himself to be a 57-year-old archery hunter from Southern California. No, he didn't want to be one with the mountain goats, he told The Associated Press, he just wanted to practice getting as close as possible to a herd in order to kill one of them. So all that laborious four-legged climbing while wearing his homemade goat suit was merely preparation for a mountain goat hunt in Canada next year. The man, who was not identified, was apparently not happy about all the publicity, which began when a hiker spotted him on a mountainside and a TV news crew photographed him from a helicopter. And we suspect that he was the anonymous "agitated man" who called wildlife authorities to say: "Leave goat man alone. He's done nothing wrong."

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