Species / International Ovis

American Mountain Goat

Oreamnos americanus)


The high mountain ranges of northwestern North America, from southern Alaska southward through the Coastal Mountains of British Columbia to the Cascades of Washington, and in the Rockies of British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. There are also limited populations in the Yukon, and in the Mackenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories. It has been introduced on Kodiak, Baranof and Chichagof Islands in Alaska; on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington; in northeastern Oregon; in several areas in Montana; in the Black Hills of South Dakota; and in several ranges in Colorado.


The American mountain goat’s shoulder height is 35-40 inches and can weigh up to 300 pounds. The shaggy coat is white or yellowish white (vanilla) in color, with long under wool, and longer guard hairs that form a stiff mane on the neck and rump, and pantaloons on the thighs. The legs are long and heavy, and the large hoofs have rubbery pads in the center for sure footing on rock. Black scent glands are located behind the horns in both sexes. Both males and females grow short, sharp, black horns. The horns of the female are slimmer, straighter, and less divergent at the tips than those of the male, and can be longer as well.


Steep slopes, cliffs and glacier edges in alpine areas that have low temperatures and heavy snowfall. Sometimes in nearby meadows and valleys.


The mountain goat is a first-rate game animal. Its eyesight is as good as that of a mountain sheep and it occupies far more difficult ground. It is most easily stalked from above, because it does not usually anticipate danger from that quarter. A mountain goat makes a spectacular full mount, especially when taken in late season when the hair is long and thick. Care should be taken not to shoot one in a place where the brittle horns will be broken from a fall-or to shoot one where it cannot be recovered. When hunting in precipitous areas, ropes and other mountaineering gear should be available. Because of its generally inaccessible habitat, the mountain goat has been less affected by people than any other North American big game animal. The name "mountain goat" is misleading because, biologically, it is not a true goat; it is a member of the Rupicaprini tribe-the goat-antelopes-whose members are more primitive than true goats. They include the chamois of Europe and the serow and goral of Asia. Scientists believe the American mountain goat originated in Asia and migrated to North America over the Bering land bridge about 600,000 years ago.

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