Thursday, February 16, 2012
O ~ Oreamnos americanus, Mountain Goat
Despite its name, the Mountain Goat is not a true goat but is a member of the sub-Family Caprinae along with the goats. In the Cascade Mountains of Washington, Mountain Goat are at the southern-most tip of their natural range. It is possible to find these animals within 30 miles of downtown Seattle near Mt Si and along the I-90 corridor. Mountain Goats were introduced to the Olympic Mountain area where they are currently causing quite a bit of ecologic damage to the rare flora of the park.
Goats eat common vegetation along with moss and lichen. They migrate vertically to follow the snow pack. Padded, cloven hooves allow the animals to navigate rock faces that can be nearly 60 degree slope. Main predators, aside from man, are Golden Eagles, which will hunt the young kids. It is common to find both Mountain Goat and Golden Eagles in the Yakima Canyon between Ellensburg and Yakima.
The shed wool the mountain goat was collected and used by native peoples for textiles.