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THE GOATS OF CRIPPLE CREEK

By: "Gary Pfalzbot"
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The Goats of Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek, CO -- Ever been there? I am sure that some of you who are reading this have at one time or another traveled in from either Colorado Springs or Canon City, CO to visit one of the most active gold mines in the United States. Or perhaps you are one of the many people who often visits the many casinos available. Well, depending upon which way you might have driven into the town itself, you may or may not have seen the goats of Cripple Creek.

Situated at nearly 10,000 feet or more is a small herd of Angora goats which many visitors to Cripple Creek consider as "Colorado Mountain Goats". And it is an easy mistake to make as these goats truly do live in the mountains and scale rocks that would make the average climber cringe in fear.

Where did these goats come from? Good question. It has been related to this author by Animal Control authorities and the Teller County Sheriff office that these goats at one time belonged to a gentleman who refused to keep the goats contained. And why should he? At that point in time, there were no laws that restricted goats, cattle or the burros of Cripple Creek from running free. In fact, the burros "in" Cripple Creek still are allowed to roam freely.
The Goats of Cripple Creek

What was once a much larger herd (approximately 15) of "wild" Angora goats has unfortunately dwindled to just 3. Much of the attrition of this herd can be attributed to their frequent crossing of the highway to reach green meadow grasses. A smaller portion of their attrition can probably be attributed to the fact they have not for at least the last decade, received any type of vaccination or worming of any type.

Upon my initial investigation of these goats, I found that the Animal Control officer receives on an average at least 5 calls per week in the form of complaints of "goats on the highway". While the Animal Control Officer would ultimately like to see these goats caught and contained, the Sheriff is reluctant to allow their containment because they are ruled to be free as goats with an owner, but without an "identifiable" owner. The property on which they roam can be considered to be owned by several different parties - none of which would like to see a decade long attraction disappear.

On a nearly everyday basis, several tourists stop to gawk and take pictures of the "mountain goats" that are looming on the rocks several hundred feet above. On perhaps three or more occasions, I have stopped to correct their beliefs that these are mountain goats and ultimately refer them to GoatWorld to compare the two if they wish. I don't know who these tourists believe to be crazier, myself or the goats. The Goats of Cripple Creek

At any rate, these Angora goats do provide a certain sense of amusement and awe for anyone who sees them. But unless you travel in the back way to Cripple Creek, you may never see them!

From Colorado Springs heading west on Highway 24, resist the urge to turn on Highway 67 in Divide, CO. Simply keep heading west on Highway 24 to Florissant, CO and turn left at CR1 (Teller County Road 1). You will stay on Teller One and pass the turn off to Canon City, CO. Approximately another five miles up the mountain, you will suddenly see on the left of the road, two large sets of rocks where the goats reside. It is truly a unique sight that you will not get everyday!

In closing, we, Gary & Pamela Pfalzbot of GoatWorld hope to see these goats remain in what seems a perfectly natural setting for them. Even though in many respects they are wild, there are some individuals who frequently appear to be caring for them by providing oats and grain to them from time to time. We urge visitors to resist the urge to feed them - Goats need a regular diet and these goats are fending for themselves with little help just fine. As an interested party in the safety and well-being of these goats, we would prefer to continue to let them run natural as they have for many years. We would like to plan to temporarily contain these goats only for the purpose of worming and giving them the appropriate vaccinations they need to survive. Hopefully by doing so, we can preserve that which has become somewhat of a landmark at 10,000 and above in the Colorado Rockies!

About the author: Gary Pfalzbot is the webmaster of GoatWorld. He has raised goats over the years, been involved with 4-H (as a young boy) and currently resides in Florissant, CO, situated within the Rocky Mountains. He and his wife Pam began raising a few breeds of goats, mainly precipitated for the control of Kudzu vine. They now primarily author the GoatWorld web site to continue to inform, educate, and promote the industry and those persons who are interested in goats.

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21-November-2014
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