National Forest Foundation

Eight Facts About Mountain Goats You Should Know

Wildlife

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Category: Wildlife
by Hannah Ettema

Mountain goats are actually not goats.

Mountain goats are not in the same genus as goats. In the bovidae family, mountain goats are associated with antelopes, gazelles and cattle.

Head to the skies if you’d like to see one.

Mountain goats live in alpine and subalpine environments. In the high-altitude environments, sometimes above 13,000 ft, they are the largest mammal. The high elevation protects mountain goats from predators. In the summer, they’ll stay above the tree line and migrate to lower elevations in the winter.

Just North America for mountain goats.

In the high reaches of the Rockies and Cascades, mountain goats bounce around the rocks. In Canada, you could see one throughout British Columbia, Alberta, and Yukon. Alaska is home to mountain goats in Southeast Alaska and the Chugach Mountains.

Interesting nomenclature all around.

Most people know that baby mountain goats are “kids” and males are “billies” but did you know a female is a “nannie”?

Kids (have to) get the hang of it pretty quickly.

After a day or so of being born, young goats are scrambling around rocks with their mother.

The secret is in the horns.

Just shy of their two year birthday, you can tell the age of a mountain goat by counting the rings on their horns. Not unlike trees!

Mountain goats are with us for about a decade.

The average lifespan of a mountain goat is 9 to 12 years.

Watch out – mountain goats can be aggressive.

Nannies can be protective of their territory and food and will fight other nannies. In the mating season, males will fight with each other to mate with a female. Mountain goats may also become hostile towards humans.

Despite how accustomed mountain goats may be around people, they are still wild animals. Their horns are sharp and may be used to defend their personal space.

Check out this guide to ensure your wildlife viewing is safe.

For more information about mountain goats, visit:


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