Mountain Goats

January 8, 2001

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Where can you find Rocky Mountain goats?
Mountain goats live in the United States and Canada. In Idaho, most goat populations are located in the central part of the state.

Mountain Goats can be found in the steep rocky areas of the White Clouds, the Sawtooths, Seven Devils, and Bitterroot Mountains. The Selkirk Range in Northern Idaho also plays host to Mountain goats.

Mountain goat

Scientific Name Oreamnos Americanus

A mountain lamb
belonging to America

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area has many opportunities to view Mountain Goats. Scientists in this area are studying the effect winter recreational activities are having on the population of Mountain Goats in the area.

Find out how goats survive in this harsh environment they call home.

Identifying Mountain Goats
Mountain Goats are about three and a half feet tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 150 and 220 pounds. Or about the same weight as a grown man.

It can be difficult telling the difference between males and the females, unless you're a keen observer of their behavior.

  • Both have slender black horns
  • Both grow "beards" on their chins as they grow older.
  • Both have large, powerful shoulders that help them climb and paw at the ground for food.

Mountain Goats

Males are called

Females are called nannies.

Baby goats are called kids.

A Group of Mountain Goats is called a Band.

Nanny and Billy goat in the spring Males and female goats look about the same, but males are slightly larger than females and
billies spend a lot of time alone, while nannies live in small groups with the youngsters.

A group of Mountain goats is called a band. The number in a band will change frequently. A healthy population of goats will have goats of all ages. Again, though, the billies often tend to be loners. Sometimes they even form their own bands.

Queen of the Hill
Each mountain goat has a rank. Rank determines who gets the best sleeping and feeding spots and who gets to use the salt licks first. Usually the larger nannies are at the top of the ladder. Interestingly enough, the kids rank the same as their mothers. If a billy goat happens to be around, he ranks the lowest of all, except during breeding season.

Mountain Goat tracks

Goat at the Salt LickDinner Time
Rocky Mountain goats eating habits vary throughout the year. Their diet consists mainly of grasses, woody plants, mosses, lichen and other vegetation.

These goats also seem to be drawn to salt licks, although there is no evidence that salt is a required mineral for them, they really seem to like the taste.

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