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Park Rangers Not Responsible for Rogue Mountain Goat

The National Park Service is not liable for the death of a hiker killed five years ago by an aggressive mountain goat in the Olympic National Park.

A sharply split panel of federal appeals judges in Seattle turned down a claim by Susan Chadd that her husband, 63-year old Robert Boardman, died because park officials dithered and stalled over whether a huge male mountain goat with a bad reputation should be killed before he hurt someone.

In October 2010, the goat attacked and gored Boardman, who was hiking with his wife and a friend, severing his femoral artery. Boardman bled to death before help could be summoned.

Chadd sued for damages, claiming park officials were negligent in failing to kill the big goat even after they knew for years that he was getting more aggressive toward people.

But the judges held that park rangers were shielded against negligence claims because they were exercising their discretionary function in trying to control the goat by non-lethal means - hazing and beanbag bullets.

A dissenting judge was bluntly critical of the majority decision. He wrote - quoting - this is analogous to a routine tort case, where a homeowner has a fierce dog but does not get rid of the dog until after it has torn some child's face off  - End quote.

Whether Chadd will ask the US Supreme Court to overturn the decision is undecided.

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