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Montana Field Guides

Mountain Goat - Oreamnos americanus

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3


 

External Links





 
General Description
Coat white; horns and hooves black; tail may have a few brown or black hairs. Long hair of winter coat forms a beard under the chin and pantaloons around the front legs. Body compact and chunky, legs short. Horns smooth, sharp, and curved slightly backward, 8 to 10 inches long. Horns of nannies curve less and are thinner, but sometimes longer, than those of billies. Hooves have hard outer edges with soft centers that "stick" to rocks. Old billies may weigh 300 lbs. or more, nannies about 150 lbs. Nannies, kids and immature billies form small herds; mature billies often alone except during rut; females dominant over males.

General Distribution
Montana Range



Montana Distribution


Western Hemisphere Range

 


Distribution Comments
Map images and GIS layers of general and winter range for populations of this and other hunted wildlife species can be found on Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks GIS Layers web page

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 5051

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Occassionally discrete winter and summer ranges 5 to 10 miles apart in Bitterroots (Smith 1976). Males show little home range fidelity (Rideout 1977).

Habitat
Precipitous terrain; steep, south-facing slopes in winter, sometimes enter subalpine forest. Snow cover an important influence on winter distribution. Winter habitat: cliffy terrain, south-facing canyon walls, windblown ridgetops. Spring: south- and west-facing cliffs. Summer: meadows, cliffs, ravines, and forests (Chadwick 1973, Burleigh 1978, Joslin 1985).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Grasses, sedges, lichens, forbs and shrubs. Dominant items vary dependent on range and season: grasses, sedges, shrubs and forbs. Coniferous trees, mosses and lichens also used (Saunders 1955, Chadwick 1973, Smith 1976, Burleigh 1978). May congregate at mineral licks (Joslin 1985, Singer 1978).

Ecology
Vehicle access linked to population declines (Joslin 1985). Low productivity and sociobiological characteristics combine to make sensitive to overharvest (Smith 1976, Burleigh 1978). May leave traditional areas in response to disturbances such as logging (Chadwick 1973, Joslin 1985).

Reproductive Characteristics
Breed in November and December; usually one kid, but sometimes two on good range. Billies fight head to tail, sometimes inflicting serious wounds to hindquarters and flanks. Nannies usually breed at 2 1/2 years of age. Courtship begins late October. Give birth late May to early June. Gestation 182 days. Neo-nates highly precocious (Smith 1976). Hunting tends to be additive mortality. Low-to-no compensatory response.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • Anonymous. 1942. Grizzly bear, mountain goat, and moose survey. Flathead and Kootenai Management Units. Montana Fish and Game Department. Special Rep. 27 pp.
    • Anonymous. 1946. Trapping and transplanting goats. Montana Fish and Game Comm. 1945-46 Biennial Report.
    • Anonymous. 1987. Interagency Rocky Mountain Front Wildlife Monitoring/Evaluation Program Management Guidelines for Selected Species. USDI Bureau of Land Management. 71 pp.
    • Brandborg, S. M. 1955. Life history and management of the mountain goat in Idaho. Idaho Dept. Fish Game, Wildl. Bull. 2. 142 pp.
    • Brown, W. S. 1978-79. Habitat partitioning and niche overlap between bighorn sheep and mountain goats. In K. L. McArthur, comp., 1978-79 Annual Research Summaries, Unpubl. Rep., USDI National Park Service, Glacier National Park, MT. 66 pp.
    • Burleigh, W. E. 1978. Seasonal distribution and historical decline of the Rocky Mountain goat in the Cabinet Mountains, Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 110 pp.
    • Casebeer, R. L., M. J. Rognrud and S. M. Brandberg. 1950. Rocky Mountain goats in Montana. Montana Fish and Game Comm., Wildl. Rest. Div. Bull. No.5. 107 pp.
    • Chadwick, D. H. 1973. Mountain goat ecology--logging relationships in the Bunker Creek drainage of western Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 262 pp.
    • Chapman, J. A., and G. A. Feldhamer, editors. 1982. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
    • Eng, Robert. L., 1976?, Wildlife Baseline Study [for West Fork of the Stillwater and Picket Pin drainages]
    • Foresman, K. R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammologists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 p.
    • Hoffmann, R. S. and D. L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. University of Montana, Missoula. 133 p.
    • Joslin, G. 1985. Montana mountain goat investigations, Rocky Mountain Front. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Helena. 212 pp.
    • Joslin, G. 1986. Mountain goat population changes in relation to energy exploration along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front. pp. 253-271 In: Joslin, G. (ed). Proceedings of the Fifth Northern Wild Sheep and Goat Council.
    • Lentfer, J. W. 1955. A two-year study of the Rocky Mountain goat in the Crazy Mountains, Montana. J. Wildl. Mgmt. 19(4):417-428.
    • Lentfer, J.W. 1954. A two-year study of the RockY Mountain goat in the Crazy Mountains, Montana. M.S. Thesis, Montana State University, Bozeman. 40 pp.
    • Mack, I. A., F. J. Singer, and M. E. Messaros. 1990. The ungulate prey base for wolves in Yellowstone National Park II: elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats in the areas adjacent to the park. Pp. 2-41 to 2218 in Wolves for Yellowstone A report to the United States Congress, Vol. 2, Research and Analysis. Natl. Park Serv., Yellowstone National Park, WY.
    • Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 1948-1992. Annual goat hunting and harvest statistics. Helena.
    • O'Gara, B. W., and K. S. Todd, Jr. 1968. Eineria montanaensis n. sp. and e. ernesti n. sp. (protozoa: eimeriidae) from the Rocky Mountain goat Oreamnos americanus. J. Protozool. 15(4). 3 pp.
    • Pattie, D. L. and N. A. M. Verbeek. 1967. Alpine mammals of the Beartooth Plateau. Northwest Science 41(3): 110-117.
    • Peck, S. V. 1972. Spanish Peaks mountain goat study. M.S. thesis, Montana State University, Bozeman. 54 pp.
    • Pedevillano, C. 1986. Mountain goat behavior at the Walton Lick and Highway 2 underpasses in Glacier National Park. M.S. thesis, University of Idaho, Moscow. 110 pp.
    • Pedevillano, C. and R. G. Wright. 1987. The influence of visitors on mountain goat activities in Glacier National Park, Montana. BioI. Cons. 39: I-I I.
    • Peek, J. M. 1962. Rocky Mountain goat investigations (range phase). Montana Fish and Game Dept. P-R Job Compl. Rep. Proj. W-98-R-2, Job B-9 (Multilith).
    • Petrides, G. A. 1948. Mountain goat age ratios in Montana. J. Mammal. 29:185.
    • PHELPS, D. E., B. JAMIESON, AND R. A. DEMARCHI, 1975, MOUNTAIN GOAT MANAGEMENT IN THE KOOTENAYS I. THE HISTORY OF GOAT MANAGEMENT II. A GOAT MANAGEMENT PLAN, 1975-1985
    • Reid, F. 2006. Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston and New York, 608 pp.
    • Rhee, S. 1988-89.Maternal investment in mountain goats, Oreamnos americanus: a study of nursing as a measure of investment in mountain goat sons and daughters in Glacier... In K. Dimont, comp., 1988-89 Science Summary, Glacier National Park. Unpubl. Rep., USDI National Park Service, Glacier National Park, MT.
    • Rideout, C. B. 1974. A radio telemetry study of the ecology and behavior of the Rocky Mountain goat in western Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Kansas.
    • Rideout, C. B. 1974. Goats of Gunsight Pass. National Parks & Conservation Magazine 48(2):18-21.
    • Rideout, C. B. 1977. Mountain goat home ranges in the Sapphire Mountains of Montana. Pp. 201-211. in: Proc. Int. Mountain Goat Symposium. S. W. and W. G. MacGregor (eds). Brit. Col. Min. of Recr. and Conserv., F& W Branch.
    • Rideout, C.B. 1980. Mountain goat, pp.149-159 in Schmidt, J. L. and D.L. Gilbert. 1980. Big Game of North America: ecology and management. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg. 494 pp.
    • Rideout, C.B. and R.S. Hoffmann. OREAMNOS AMERICANUS. Mamm. Species 63:1-6.
    • Saunders, J. K. 1955. Food hahits and range use of the Rocky Mountain goat in the Crazy Mountains, Montana. J. Wildl. Manage. 19:429-437.
    • Saunders, J.K., Jr. 1954. A two-year investigation of the food habits and range use of the Rocky Mountain goat in the Crazy Mountains, Montana. M.S. Thesis, Montana State University, Bozeman. 22 pp.
    • Singer, F. J. 1975. Ecology of mountain goats in the vicinity of Walton Goat Lick, Glacier National Park. Unpubl. Prog. Rep., USDI National Park Service, Glacier National Park, MT. 16 pp.
    • Singer, F. J. 1977. Dominance, leadership and group cohesion of mountain goats at a natural lick, Glacier National Park, Montana. In: W. Samuel and W. G. MacGregor (eds). Proc. 1st. Int. Mt. Goat Symp. Brit. Col. Minist. of Rec., Fish and Wildl. Branch.
    • Singer, F. J. 1978. Behavior of mountain goats in relation to U.S. Highway 2, Glacier National Park, Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management 42(3):591-597.
    • Singer, F. J., C. Pedevillano, and R. G. Wright. 1985. Ungulates, highways and national parks or "the mountain goats of U.S. 2." Park Science--A Resource Manage. Bull. 5(2):20-21.
    • Singer, F.J., and J.L. Doherty. 1985. Movements and habitat use in an unhunted population of mountain goats, OREAMNOS AMERICANUS. Can. Field-Nat. 99:205-217.
    • Smith, B. L. 1988. Criteria for determining age and sex of American mountain goats in the field. J. Mamm. 69:395-402.
    • Suiger, F. J. and J. L. Doherty. 1985. Managing mountain goats at a highway crossing. Wild. Soc. Bull. 13(4):469-476.
    • Swenson, J. E. 1985. Compensatory reproduction in an introduced mountain goat population in the Absaroka Mountains, Montana. J. Wild. Mgmt. 49(4):837-842.
    • Thompson, K. 1952. New horizons for goats. Montana Wildlife. Summer.
    • Thompson, M. J. 1980. Cannon netting mountain goats. Proc. Northern Wild Sheep and Goat Council.
    • Thompson, M. J. 1980. Mountain goat distribution, population characteristics and habitat use in the Sawtooth Range, Montana. M.S. thesis, Montana State University. 68 pp.
    • Thompson, Richard W., Western Resource Dev. Corp., Boulder, CO., 1996, Wildlife baseline report for the Montana [Montanore] Project, Lincoln and Sanders counties, Montana. In Application for a Hard Rock Operating Permit and Proposed Plan of Operation, Montanore Project, Lincoln and Sanders Counties, Montana. Vol. 5. Stroiazzo, John. Noranda Minerals Corp., Libby, MT. Revised September 1996.
    • U.S. Forest Service, Kootenai National Forest. Montana Dept. of State Lands., 1978?, Final Environmental Impact Statement. Proposed Plan of Mining and Reclamation. Troy Project, Asarco, Inc., Lincoln County, Montana. Vol. III.
    • Western Technology and Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1996, Terrestrial Wildlife Reconnaissance: Stillwater Mining Company Hertzler Tailings Facility and Tailings Line, 1996. October 1996. In Stillwater Mining Co. Mine Waste Management Plan Amendment to Permit #00118 Supplemental Baseline Reports: Terrestrial Wildlife, Vegetation, Soils, Land Application Disposal, Waters of the U.S. January 1997.
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Citation for data on this website:
Mountain Goat — Oreamnos americanus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on August 20, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_AMALE02010.aspx
 
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