Mountain Goat

Mountain Goat

Rocky Mountain goat

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Oreamnos americanus
Population size
48-62 thou
Life Span
12-20 yrs
WEIGHT
45-140 kg
HEIGHT
1 m
LENGTH
120-179 cm

The Mountain goat is a hoofed mammal native to North America. A subalpine to alpine species, it is a sure-footed climber commonly seen on cliffs and ice. Both male and female Mountain goats have beards, short tails, and long black horns that contain yearly growth rings. They are protected from the elements by their woolly white double coats. The fine, dense wool of their undercoats is covered by an outer layer of longer, hollow hairs. Their coats help Mountain goats to withstand winter temperatures as low as -46 °C (-51 °F) and winds of up to 160 kilometers per hour (99 mph).

Di

Diurnal

He

Herbivore

Gr

Graminivore

Fo

Folivore

Te

Terrestrial

Pr

Precocial

Co

Congregatory

Vi

Viviparous

Gr

Grazing

Po

Polygyny

So

Social

He

Herding

Do

Dominance hierarchy

Al

Altitudinal Migrant

M

starts with

Ca

Canada Province Animals
(collection)

Sn

Snow White
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

Mountain goats live in the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range and other mountain regions of the Western Cordillera of North America, from Washington, Idaho, and Montana through British Columbia and Alberta, into the southern Yukon and southeastern Alaska. Their northernmost range is said to be along the northern fringe of the Chugach Mountains in southcentral Alaska. These animals usually stay above the tree line throughout the year but they will migrate seasonally to higher or lower elevations within that range. Winter migrations to low-elevation mineral licks often take them several kilometers through forested areas.

Mountain Goat habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Mountain goats are social animals; after the breeding season is over, males and females move away from each other, with the adult males (billies) breaking up into small bands of two or three individuals. Females (nannies) form loose-knit nursery groups of up to 50 animals. They are active during the day and spend most of their time grazing. Mountain goats establish dominance hierarchies and can be quite aggressive. Nannies can be very competitive and protective of their space and food sources. They fight with one another for dominance in conflicts that can ultimately include all the nannies in the herd. In these battles, nannies circle each other with their heads lowered, displaying their horns. As with fights between billies during the breeding season, these conflicts can occasionally lead to injury or death but are usually harmless. To avoid fighting, an animal may show a posture of nonaggression by stretching low to the ground. In regions below the tree line, nannies use their fighting abilities to protect themselves and their offspring from predators such as mountain lions, wolves, wolverines, lynxes, and bears.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Mountain goats are herbivores (graminivores, folivores). Their diets include grasses, herbs, sedges, ferns, mosses, lichens, and twigs and leaves from the low-growing shrubs and conifers of their high-altitude habitat.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
late October to early December
PREGNANCY DURATION
6 months
BABY CARRYING
1 kid
INDEPENDENT AGE
1 year
FEMALE NAME
nanny
MALE NAME
billy
BABY NAME
kid

Mountain goats are polygynous meaning that males mate with more than one female; however, some females may sometimes mate with multiple males during the breeding season. Nannies in a herd are ready to breed in late October through early December, at which time males and females participate in a mating ritual. Mature billies stare at nannies for long periods, dig rutting pits, and fight each other in showy (though occasionally dangerous) scuffles. Young billies sometimes try to participate, but they are ignored by nannies; nannies also sometimes pursue inattentive billies. Kids are born in the spring (late May or early June) after a six-month gestation period. Nannies give birth, usually to a single offspring, after moving to an isolated ledge. Kids weigh a little over 3 kilograms (6.6 lb) at birth and begin to run and climb (or attempt to do so) within hours. Although they are mostly weaned within one month, kids follow their mothers closely for the first year of life (or until the nanny gives birth again if this does not occur the next breeding season); nannies protect their young by leading them out of danger, standing over them when faced by predators, and positioning themselves below their kids on steep slopes to stop freefalls. Mountain goats reach reproductive maturity at about 30 months of age.

Population

Population threats

Mountain goats are not currently endangered; however, these animals are sensitive to human disturbance, especially increasing helicopter activities for industrial and tourism activities. Road construction, mining, and other development also have harmful effects on the population of this species.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Mountain goat is 48,000-62,000 mature individuals. In 2010, the total population in Canada was estimated at 43,700-70,200 individuals including 2000 individuals in Alberta; 39,000-65,500 individuals in British Columbia; 1,000 individuals in Northwest Territories; and 1,700 individuals in Yukon. Recent total estimates in the United States are 37,000-47,000 individuals, with 24,000-33,500 individuals in Alaska. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Despite its name, the Mountain goat is not a true goat. It belongs to the subfamily Caprinae or goat-antelope, along with true goats, wild sheep, the chamois, the muskox, and other species.
  • The Mountain goat is the only living species in its genus. The name Oreamnos is derived from the Greek term oros - "mountain" (or, alternatively, oreas "mountain nymph") and the word amnos "lamb".
  • The Mountain goat's feet are well-suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes with pitches exceeding 60°, with inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can spread apart. The tips of their feet have sharp dewclaws that keep the animals from slipping. Mountain goats also have powerful shoulder and neck muscles that help propel them up steep slopes.
  • Mountain goats are the largest mammals found in their high-altitude habitats, which can exceed elevations of 13,000 feet (4,000 m).
  • Although Mountain goats have never been domesticated and commercialized for their wool, pre-Columbian indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast did use the wool of these animals into their weaving.

References

1. Mountain Goat on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_goat
2. Mountain Goat on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/42680/22153133

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