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   MOUNTAIN GOATS

 

(Oreamnos Americanos)

Females are called nannies and males are called, you guessed it, billies. Offspring are called Kids. Billy Goats weigh up to 200 pounds and have a thick fleecy undercoat covered by a shaggy whitish coat that is 6 inches deep. The thick coat ends at the knee giving the appearance of pantaloons! When the tourists arrive in the spring the animals may be in their fleecy shortened summer coat. Goats stand 3 feet at the shoulder and average 6 feet in length. Mouth, eyes, nose and hooves are pitch black. Both sexes may dawn a beard and this feature, horn as well as the hump on the back easily distinguish them from the Bighorn Sheep. Tail is short as are the legs and the ears are long.

MOUNTAIN GOATS

Best places to see Goats include Goats and Glaciers Viewpoint where a salt lick attracts the animals (on the Icefields Parkway 35 kilometers south of Jasper). Also Sunwapta Gorge, Athabasca Falls and several other spots along the Icefields Parkway. Look for them at the East entrance to Jasper Park and near Cascade Mountain (West of Banff). They are more commonly seen on the Eastern slopes of the Rockies (British Columbia).

MOUNTAIN GOATS
Watch for clumps of white hair stuck to shrubs and trees but only at the higher elevations that goats love.


Rutting Season antics. Mountain Goats do display the characteristic comic displays of males in many species but this is confined to the application of urine soaked mud, aggressive threats and very occasional horn saber fights with other males.  Not as odd the the mating antics of humans but...

Nannies bear single "kids" or occasionally twins 6 to 9 pounds after a winter of eating shrubs (sounds like a plot for a new movie?).

Athabasca Falls

 

Mountain climbers can only stare in awe at the amazing feats of mountain goats. No animal on Earth is as agile!

MOUNTAIN GOATS

You can tell the age of a Mountain Goat. Just grab the animal by the horns (just kidding) and count the rings on the horn (similar to a tree). Horns car grow 2 inches per year. Females have a crooked edged horn (to the back) where the mails have a gently curving horns. Similar to Bighorn Sheep the horns are mostly ornamental.


Goats love steep and dangerous slopes. Predators fear of heights is the goats best defense. Their stocky bodies, short legs and specially adapted claws make them expert climbers in the steep cliffs, windy crags and high elevations. Front and back legs are close together. Possibly the greatest enemy of the goat (they rarely lose balance) are avalanches and snowslides with any unfortunate victims being eaten at the bottom by bears or other carnivores. Goats eat any vegetation they can find including lichen, grasses, rushes, flowers, conifer browse, tourists and shrubs. What a tasty salad, eh? Because food is scarce on mountain cliffs goats are somewhat solitary.

GOATS
Goats and Sheep (above) will come down from the safety
of cliffs and steep inclines for water and food.

Carnivores looking to make a meal of goats include bear, the mountain lion and wolf. Rarely, the young may be attacked by eagles, lynx and wolverines. Human hunters avoid the animals as their meat has a musky taint which is not appetizing.

 

    EDITH CAVELL VALLEY

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