Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus)

I don't remember exactly when, or who started calling me "Mountain Goat". I know it's because I love trail running and for some reason I get up hills pretty well. Runs or hikes leading to peaks are my favorite journeys. The high country, those places above the tree-line of 9,000 feet or more, hold a fascination for me. The warm sun, crisp air, alpine passes and meadows, the surrealistic blueish green waters of cirque lakes...all have a kind of divine magic about them. That's where the mountain goats dwell.


I really love them, I wish we had them in our mountains. In the united states they live in the Rockies. There are varies species of mountain goats located in other parts of the world. We do have BIG HORN SHEEP that live in our local deserts and mountains. I once saw a herd of them on Mt. Baldy. I'll write about them another time; today I devote my first blog to my namesake, the Mountain Goat.

Here are some very interesting facts about Mountain Goats from Wikipedia:

The Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus), also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat, is a large-hoofed mammal found only in North America. Despite its name, it is not a true goat, as it belongs to a different genus. (Antelopes not goats). It resides at high elevations and is a sure-footed climber, often resting on rocky cliffs that predators cannot reach.

I love getting to the high places; just like this goat pictured on the left. Maybe I'm avoiding predators too!

I've got to get to the Rockies..never been there. Though I have been to some pretty spectacular places in the High Sierras.

Both male and female mountain goats have beards, short tails, and long black horns, 15-28 cm in length, which contain yearly growth rings. They are protected from the elements by their woolly white double coats. The fine, dense wool of their undercoats is covered by an outer layer of longer, hollow hairs. In warmer seasons, mountain goats moult by rubbing against rocks and trees, with the adult billies (males) shedding their extra wool first and the pregnant nannies (females) shedding last. In the winter, their coats help them to withstand temperatures as low as -50 Fahrenheit (-46 Celsius) and winds of up to 100 mph (161 km/h).
A male goat stands about one meter (3'3") at the shoulder to the waist. Male goats also have longer horns and a longer beard than nannies. Mountain goats typically weigh between 45 and 136 kg (100 - 300 lb.);[1] females are usually 10-30% lighter than males. The mountain goat's feet are well-suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes, sometimes with pitches of 60 degrees or more, with inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can spread apart as needed. Dewclaws on the back of their feet also help to keep them from slipping.
(Note that the Nannies are FIESTY!)
Nannies can be very competitive and protective of their space and food sources. They will fight with one another for dominance in conflicts that can ultimately include all the nannies in the herd. In these battles, nannies will circle each other with their heads lowered, showing off their horns. As with fights between billies during breeding season, these conflicts can occasionally lead to injury or even death, but they are largely harmless. To avoid fighting, an animal may show a posture of non-aggression by stretching low to the ground.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.


Dave-O said...


Trail Runner Con Dios said...

What a lovely opening. Welcome to blog heaven Coach Mountain Goat!

Joanne said...

Hey Hopie...finally entering the wonderful world of blogging. Yeah!