Speedy mountain goat hoofs it 50 kilometres, possibly seeking alone time

A young mountain goat hoofed it this summer on an adventure that surprised scientists who've track the beasts for decades.

Lake Louise wildlife specialist says the billy may have sought a new place to call home

A mountain goat (not the one pictured) took an unusual 50-kilometre jaunt this summer, surprising researchers. (Becky Bohrer/The Associated Press)

A young mountain goat hoofed it this summer on an adventure that surprised scientists who've track the beasts for decades.

The goat, who is male, may have been feeling a bit anti-social and tried to escape the other billies and nannies in the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, a wildlife scientist says.

The goat was wearing a collar attached by scientists, who use the data to track mountain goat movements and populations.

In July, the data showed he hoofed it from the Skoki-Baker Creek area near Lake Louise to Mount Cory, just outside the town of Banff — a 50-kilometre journey and in less than a week.

"It was unusual for us to see this," said Jon Stuart-Smith, a wildlife management specialist for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay field unit. "And we were a little bit surprised that it went for that long a walk, especially at a time of year when we weren't necessarily expecting it."

Alone time

Typically, the data shows goats hanging around their home bases and on nearby steep, rocky cliffs, Stuart-Smith said. They rarely head lower except when visiting salt and mineral licks.

"This male was likely just looking for a new place to spend some time away from other goats," he said.

The possibly anti-social animal stuck to his route on his solo vacation, first detailed by the Rocky Mountain Outlook. He crossed a few valleys on the way but spent most of his journey at high elevation above the treeline, Stuart-Smith said.

Mountain goats have black, dagger-like horns and white furry beards. They like to live high up in the mountains on the steep, rocky cliffs. (Becky Bohrer/The Associated Press)

Mountain goats should not be mistaken for bighorn sheep, the prolific creatures with curved horns that dot mountain roadsides. Mountains goats, both male and female, have short, dagger-like black horns and all-white coats and beards.

They're not often seen by people because they like to scuttle through steep, rocky terrain not often traversed by park visitors.

This particular billy is living in the ideal location for loner goats. Only an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 mountain goats make Alberta home, but next door, British Columbia is home to more than 40,000.

The population of Alberta mountain goats is believed to have declined dramatically since the 1960s but the species is now listed as secure by the provincial government.

With files from Lisa Robinson and the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.