Artwork by

Mountain Goat Notecard



Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanos)

Mountain goats are superbly adapted to the harsh conditions of the crags, ridges, and steep terrain of North America. The habitat that mountain goats make home is a region where it is winter around 9 months of the year and is generally snow-packed from September through May. Their natural range extends from Idaho and Washington to Alaska.

Male and female mountain goats look similar, however males are considerably larger. Both sexes have black horns; horn size can be correlated to age. Females’ horns are more slender in size than the males’. They have shaggy, white-yellowish coats that thicken in the winter for protection against the cold. Their white coats also act as camouflage, blending well with the snow.

Mountain goats are not really goats but are members of the antelope family. They live in a variety of elevations, but always near cliffs. Travel is aided by their strong, muscular forequarters, negotiating rocky slopes on split, pliable hooves with soft, rubbery pads and a hard outer lining. Few predators can follow their travels; they generally plow through even deep snow.

Male goats (billies) may wander considerable distances in search of receptive females (nannies). Billies remain with the nannies only during the receptive period. Babies (kids) are born, generally singly, in late May or early June after a 6 month gestation. Kids are precocious and can keep up with adults when only hours old. Just after giving birth, nannies join other nannies and newborns to form nursery flocks. Kids remain with their mothers until the next breeding season.

Survival in the high alpine region is a struggle. Mortality rates are high and are caused by avalanche, falls, predation, parasites, harsh winters, and hunting. Mountain goats may live 14-15 years, though most live only 8-10 years.

Nature gives the mountain goat the ability to exist in this extreme environment just as we are provided with what we need to move forward with surety and reach for new heights.

artwork by Linda Matusich ©2006

text by Steve Sierigk