British Columbia

Mountain goat 'turned the tables,' killed grizzly bear in Yoho National Park

Parks Canada says a mountain goat in Yoho National park took on a grizzly bear — and won.

The bear was found with puncture wounds consistent with a mountain goat's horns, says Parks Canada ecologist

Parks Canada says a mountain goat, like the one seen in this file photo, killed a grizzly bear in Yoho National Park. (Parks Canada)

Grizzly bears are known as one of the most ferocious predators in the forest; few can stand against them. 

Except for a rare circumstance in eastern B.C.'s Yoho National Park, where a mountain goat took one on — and won. 

According to Parks Canada, a forensic necropsy of a female grizzly bear determined that it died of wounds inflicted by the mountain goat. 

David Laskin, wildlife ecologist with Parks Canada, said the bear was found with puncture wounds at the bottom of the neck and armpits, consistent with a mountain goat's horns. 

"[It] was the result of an unsuccessful predation attempt on a mountain goat. And I guess the mountain goat was successful in the circumstance. And it ultimately turned the tables on this bear," he said on CBC's Radio West. 

He said that it was consistent with the predatory attack behaviour of grizzly bears and the defensive response of mountain goats.

The grizzly, although not the one pictured here, weighed 70 kilograms and was healthy prior to its death. (Jakub Moravec/Shutterstock)

"When grizzlies attack, they tend to focus on the head in the back of the neck and the shoulders of their prey. And this is usually from above. So in turn, the defensive response of the mountain goat would be to protect itself using its sharp points," Laskin said. 

The remains of the grizzly bear were found on Sept. 4 by a hiker on Burgess Path, near Golden, B.C. According to Laskin, the bear was female and weighed 70 kilograms. While mountain goats usually weigh around the same, he said he's seen some weigh over 130 kilograms. 

Laskin says the adult bear was smaller in size among the population of 25 to 30 grizzlies in Yoho and Kootenay national parks, but it was not unusually small.

The bear was an adult, but the necropsy showed no signs she had ever had cubs.

Laskin says it's hard to gauge the bear's hunting experience, but her smaller size may have played a role in the fatal attack.

Parks Canada said it removed the carcass from the area to prevent it from attracting any wildlife that may pose a risk to visitors.

The department also said that although goats are well-equipped to protect themselves, it is rare to see one actually kill a bear.

"It's pretty interesting. It doesn't happen every day," said Laskin. 

"And, you know, nature is full of surprises."

With files from Radio West and The Canadian Press

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