THEY LIVE IN places most humans only dream of trekking.
Among the highest peaks, in the jagged crevices and rocky valleys where beauty intersects with danger, only the best trained and most fit dare to tread.
Here dwell the white monarchs of the mountains-the mountain goat.
Also known as Rocky Mountain goat this beautiful, somewhat mysterious creature traverses the steepest habitat with ease.
Dedicated mountain hunters consider them a highly respected quarry and yet they are one of the least understood animals in North America amongst the general hunting populace.
And that’s a shame since they are truly unique and are one of the greatest hunting challenges to be found anywhere.
Pete Muennich has for many years had a deep passion for mountain goats and their pursuit and decided to turn that into a cause in 2013.
That was the year he founded the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance (RGMA) initially working on habitat projects in goat country. That has turned into a 1,000-member organization that has contributed many thousands of dollars to mountain goat conservation work.
“It started off very grassroots, and we still are, but we have grown to the point we are doing numerous projects and can fund some important conservation work and research,” he said
Muennich said RGMA’s mission is to increase and enhance the management, range, and populations of goats across both native and suitable non-native North American habitats without negatively impacting native ungulates.
“We also work to educate the public of ongoing conservation projects and petitioning for the expansion of sustainable hunting opportunities across the continent.”
In Summer 2019 RGMA volunteers went into Olympic National Park for a massive mountain goat capture a relocation project.
“This is the second summer of live goat captures orchestrated by the Park Service and Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Park deems their resident goats non-native and is in the midst of removing them from the landscape. The RMGA is extensively involved in the successful live capture and relocation of some of the Park’s mountain goats.”
In his blog at goatalliance.org Muennich noted officials weighed each goat before extensive biological sampling including the taking of blood and hair samples as well as nasal swabs.
“Once the veterinarians completed their work, the goats were carefully unhobbled as we ushered them into their crates. Boxed up goats were then loaded into a refrigerated truck for the drive to their new home in the North Cascades.”
RMGA dollars will continue to be allocated to assist in the Park Service’s live capture efforts. They hope many more goats are captured live and put into other areas before federal officials engage in lethal removal.
In comparison to whitetails, turkeys or even elk, relatively few hunters pursue mountain goats.
Like sheep, there aren’t enough goat harvest opportunities available to fully fund conservation efforts through traditional license sales.
Through RMGA much good can come to a species that is currently facing some controversies as noted above and the challenges of much of the hunting world overlooking them in a world where wildlife needs all the help it can get.
RMGA is changing that and if you like to know more, visit. goatalliance.org.
MOUNTAIN GOATS inhabit rugged, mountainous habitats in western North America. In Alaska, mountain goats occur in coastal regions in southeastern and south-central Alaska. Mountain goats were not described in the scientific literature until 1816 and remain one of the least-studied large mammals in North America.
The mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) is the single North American representative of a unique group of mountain ungulates called the Rupicaprinae, or “rock goats.” They are characterized by having relatively short horns and a fondness for living in rugged terrain.
The appearance of both sexes is much alike except that males are about 40 percent larger than females and have differently shaped horns. Adult female goats weigh about 180 pounds, with males averaging about 280 pounds (in late-summer); prime-aged males often weigh more than 300 pounds, with the largest male yet weighed topping 385 pounds.
The horns of an average adult female are equal in length to those of an average adult male but are more slender and bend back more sharply at the tip. Mountain goat hooves are specially designed for climbing in steep, rock, and slippery terrain.
A close-up look reveals a hard keratinous sheath and a soft embedded pad that enable goats to gain purchase on the smallest of granite cracks while simultaneously gripping maximum surface area.
Source: Alaska Department Of Fish and Game
Email Steve LaMascus at [email protected]