Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook, goats were unknown in the Hawaiian Islands. Captain Cook released goats in 1778 and between 1792 and 1793 Captain Vancouver also released a variety of animals that may have included goats. Eventually goats found their way to all the major Hawaiian Islands.
As with just about every other animal introduced to Hawai'i, the original intentions were good but the end result was damage to the fragile ecosystem of the islands. Goats, escaping domestication, quickly reproduced creating large populations of wild goats that lived in the rugged mountain rainforests and lava fields.
Goats, along with pigs, are responsible for the extinction of a number of native Hawaiian plants. They forage and destroy all ground cover and damage ancient rock-work with their hooves.
Just about every island has goat and pig management and on the Big Island goat hunting is allowed year round in some areas and part of the year in other areas.
Goats are easiest to find in the higher elevations - in open meadows and barren lava fields. We have seen mountain goats numerous places on Saddle Road, including the lava fields near Pu'u Huluhulu as well as the Pu'u 'O'o walking trail (both on Saddle Road). The goats pictured here were seen while we were on the Old Road near South Point in Ka'u. This female with her two kids checked us out for a moment before high-tailing it into the rough lava fields.