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Mountain goat

Chèvres De Montagne

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Mountain goat

Facts about the Mountain goat

 Family: Bovidae
Height: 140 to 155 cm
Weight: 60 to 80 kg
Lifespan: 15 to 18 years

  • Black horns
  • Goatee
  • Yellowish white coat
  • Short tail

The Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) is an ungulate capable of withstanding extreme cold. A descendant of Asiatic goat-antelopes, it is a closer relative of the chamois than of the wild goat. Its native habitat is the steep slopes and summits of western Canada and the United States at an altitude of about 2,000 metres.  

Expert rock climber

Chèvre de montagneThe Mountain goat’s hooves are superbly adapted to a mountainous and snowy environment. Its short but powerful legs help the animal climb easily along rocky ledges and high cliffs.

 

Beware of horns

Males and females have horns that curve to the back. Reaching about 30 cm in length, these horns form a pointed weapon that can seriously wound an attacker. The number of rings on the horns helps determine the mountain goat’s age.

Dominant nannies

Throughout the summer, the mountain goat leads a mostly solitary life. From October to January, individuals come together to breed. During this period, males clash with each other for the right to mate. However, females are more aggressive than males and generally, it is they who dominate the herds.

One kid at a time

Chèvre de montagneThe mountain goat reaches sexual maturity at around 2½ years of age. In June after a gestation period of 5 to 6 months, the female gives birth to one kid (baby goat). Over the course of her life, she will bear five to seven kids.

Protective mother 

The kid is born in a hard-to-reach place for predators, chosen carefully by the mother. Within hours of birth, it can already stand on its legs. Weaning occurs about four weeks after birth, but the mother continues to watch over her offspring throughout the first year of life.

Herbivore diet

The mountain goat is a herbivore, feeding on grasses, lichen, mosses, buds and twigs. During winter, when vegetation on the alpine tundra becomes scarce, the mountain goat must descend to lower altitudes to meet its dietary needs.

Beware of cougar

Among predators, the mountain goat especially fears the cougar, one of the rare carnivores capable of hunting at high altitudes. In addition, goat kids are not safe from attack by golden eagles.

Habitat loss

Chèvre de montagneFor a time, the mountain goat’s survival was threatened due to over-hunting. Regulation of this strictly recreational hunt has helped stabilize populations. However, the mountain goat remains vulnerable to human activity, which in certain regions is increasingly encroaching on its natural habitat.

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