Mountain Goats (Oreamnos americanus)

Mountain goats aren't really goats at all. They are a kind of mountain antelope more closely related to the mountain antelopes of Europe and Asia, than to farmyard goats. They are found only in the northwestern mountains of North America, and the southern Yukon is the northern edge of their range. The Yukon's montain goat poulation is estimated at 1700, with more than half living in the Kluane National Park and adjacent Kluane Wildlife Sanctuary in the southwest Yukon.


The mountain goat feels safest in the most extreme mountain habitats, favouring cliffs and inaccessible rock faces that would leave most humans clinging dizzily to any available handhold. To a mountain goat, however, steep mountainsides well above treeline are a safe, predator-free home. The goats’ compact bodies and thick, cream-coloured coats allow them to be indifferent to wind, snow and extreme temperatures. They are built for climbing, with strong forelegs adapted to hauling them up almost-impossible slopes. Their hooves are shaped like suction cups, with a strong ridge around a relatively soft central pad, providing secure footing on a variety of irregular surfaces.


Males (billies) and females (nannies) can be hard to tell apart. Females have thinner horns with a curved tip while males are thicker at the base and curve gradually along the entire length. Billies are substantially larger than nannies, but since male goats are solitary except during mating season (November to December), size comparisons are difficult to make.


Mountain goats usually give birth in May and June. The newborns arrive with a white woolly coat to protect them against the cold of a mountain spring, and develop very rapidly.