The photo was first posted to the image-sharing website Imgur.com. According to the state Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), they have no idea who the person was or what he was trying to do.
Officials have speculated that the man could be a "wildlife enthusiast," or possibly even an ethologist doing a unusual kind of scientific study of goats in the wild. ABC4
reports Phil Douglass, conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said: "The term is often used wildlife enthusiast, and people are very enthusiastic about wildlife and do some very out there types of things." He said, however, that DWR officials have never seen such "enthusiasm" with goats. He continued: "It’s happened before in a different setting, not to my knowledge has it happened with goats."
Douglass told Fox 13
: "I've been trying to figure out... It could be that they were trying to get photographs. Could be that they were out for a hunt to see what the complexity of the herd is."
Douglass said some hikers have come forward to say they have seen the person. According to Douglas, the person could be endangering his or her life by being so close to goats. Fox 13
reports DWR officials say mountain goats are territorial and both male and female animals have horns that could cause serious injuries to a person.
Wildlife officials say they would like to talk with the "goat-man." They say the goat hunting season is coming up and the man could be endangering himself. Fox 13
reports Douglass said: "There have been reports of people who have been killed or injured by goats. There’s a hunt that’s coming up in September. Certainly don’t want anyone out in a goat suit at that time."
The man who claims he took the photographs is Coty Creighton. The Standard-Examiner
reports Creighton is the design director for JDHgroup based in Ogden. He told the Utah Standard-Examiner
on Thursday that he took the photos early on July 15, while on a hike. The spot was about half a mile north of Ben Lomond Peak.
Creighton told Salt Lake's Cityweekly
"I was heading to Ben Lomond Peak, but this technically happened on the slopes of Willard Peak, just to the North of Ben Lomond. At first, I was just watching the goats, but there was the one odd shape that just stood out. It was bigger and a brighter white than the other goats. I tried getting a better view with my camera but I didn't have a telephoto lens with me, so I still couldn't quite make it out. I could see it wasn't walking the same, and it seemed clumsy in comparison to the other goats. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what other type of animal it could be. An albino bear? Honky Sasquatch?"
According to the Standar-Examiner
, Creighton said: "I thought it was a deformed goat. It was clumsy, not nimble… He was on his hands and knees, crawling along the mountainside."
But when he used a pair of binoculars to observe the "goat," he realized it wasn't a goat but a man wearing what appears to be a custom-made goat suit, with horns. According to ABC4
, Creighton said: "His goat costume was definitely home made, it wasn't done very well he had a full mask covering his face up and fake horns coming off the top of his head, he even had to lift the mask at times to make his way and see over rocks and bushes."
Creighton said that at first, he thought the man might be a photographer but he had no gear. He said: "Once I realized he had no camera gear or anything else, it went from being really funny to really creepy."
He spent 20 minutes taking pictures of the goat-man.
According to Creighton, the man was actually acting like a goat. He said that at one point, he took off his mask and saw he was being observed. Creighton said: "So he just kind of froze in his tracks, he was on his hands and knees just kind of staring at me."
He said after some time the goat-man sat down and appeared to sulk.
Creighton told the Standard-Examiner
he thought it was wiser not to approach the man. He said: "Something was definitely off with that guy."
He said: "I’ve thought about it every day just because it's so hilarious I wish I hadn't have been creeped out at the time because I really want to talk to the guy."
Anonymous phone calls
reports the DWR received two anonymous phone calls Thursday morning from a man who stated repeatedly: "Leave goat man alone, he’s done nothing wrong."
Douglass confirmed that the man had done nothing illegal. He said: “My concern was for the safety of the individual (from being injured by goats or hunters), and if he understands the risk, he’s free to make those choices."