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Oreamnos americanus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Oreamnos americanus
Species Authority: (de Blainville, 1816)
Common Name/s:
English Mountain Goat, Rocky Mountain Goat

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Festa-Bianchet, M.
Reviewer/s: Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority) & Stuart, S.N. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
This species is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, large population, and because it is not declining at anything close to the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in southeast Alaska (USA), south Yukon and southwest Northwest Territories (Canada) to north-central Oregon, central Idaho, and Montana (USA). It has been introduced to Kodiak, Chichagof, and Baranof Islands (Alaska), Olympic Peninsula (Washington), central Montana, Black Hills (South Dakota), and to Colorado, Utah and northeastern Nevada (USA) (Grubb, 2005).

In Canada, mountain goats inhabit all major mountain ranges from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, west to the Coastal Range of British Columbia, and north into the St. Elias, Coast, Cassiar, Logan and Selwyn Ranges of Yukon; and the Mackenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories. In Alaska, the mountain goat is generally continuously distributed along the mountains extending up the west coast to Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula. Its also occurs in the southern Wrangell and Talkeetna Mountains and the northern Chugach Mountains. Goat populations have been established through transplants on Baranof and Kodiak Islands. In the contiguous states, it is found in a relatively continuous distribution across several large mountain ranges in Washington, Idaho and Montana. Mountain goats are also discontinuously distributed to the east and south of this area, where many herds have been established by transplanting animals. In Alaska and Washington, separate herds are not always distinguished.
Countries:
Native:
Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon); United States (Alaska, Colorado - Introduced, Idaho, Nevada - Introduced, Oregon - Introduced, South Dakota - Introduced, Utah - Introduced, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming - Introduced)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The total population in Canada is approximately 58,000 individuals, but could range from 44,000 to 72,000, distributed as follows: Alberta 2,750; British Columbia 39,000-67,000; Northwest Territories 1,000; and Yukon 1,400. Recent total estimates in the United States are 36,000 to 47,000 individuals, with more than 12,000 animals in the contiguous states, and 24,000 to over than 33,000 in Alaska.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Most mountain goats occur in high altitude habitats, up to the limit of vegetation. Although they sometimes descend to sea level in coastal areas, they are primarily an alpine and sub-alpine species. Throughout the year, the animals usually stay above the timberline, but they will migrate seasonally to higher or lower elevations within that range. Summertime migrations to low-elevation mineral licks often take them several or more kilometers through forested areas. This species is most active during the early morning and late evening, and grazing sometimes continues throughout the night. Their diet includes grasses, herbs, sedges, ferns, moss, lichen, twigs, and leaves from the low-growing shrubs and conifers of their high-altitude habitat. Their main predators are cougars, wolves and brown bears. The species lives in groups that can vary from a few to a hundred, and during the winter months, groups generally coalesce to form large herds. The gestation length is approximately 180 days, with a single birth typically, although twins are common in introduced populations. The age of primiparity varies from 2 to 5 years among populations. Male mortality is much higher than female mortality and very few males live longer than 10 years. Very few females survive more than 16 years (Festa-Bianchet and Côté, 2008).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): These animals are largely protected from threats due to the inaccessible nature of their habitat. The species is hunted, but there are regulations in both of its range states that have stabilized past declines. Mountain goats are more sensitive to human disturbance than most other ungulates, and are particularly sensitive to harassment from aircraft. Increasing aircraft use for industrial and recreational purposes on mountain goat habitat is a major concern for their conservation.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In Canada, mountain goat habitat, along with more than 3,500 goats, are protected in eight National Parks (Banff, Glacier, Jasper, Kootenay, Nahanni, Revelstoke, Waterton and Yoho), Kluane National Park Reserve, and in Kluane Wildlife Sanctuary. Numerous provincial parks and wildlife reserves throughout western and northern Canada provide additional varying levels of protection. Limited hunting by aboriginal people is permitted in some northern national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, and licensed hunting is permitted in many provincial parks. Outside protected areas, goats are legally hunted under strict controls issued by provincial or territorial government agencies. Harvests are set annually for each population. In British Columbia for example, harvest rates vary between populations and range from 0.4 to 9% (Hebert and Smith, 1986), with an average of 1,100 to 1,200 goats shot by resident and non-residents each year in the Province. In Yukon, by contrast, harvests are much lower, varying between three and 15 animals per year, with the aboriginal harvest estimated to be zero. Transplants have been used to re-introduce mountain goats into many areas of its former range. Habitat management continues to play a key role in its conservation, and developments are subject to environmental screening processes on public land. Conservation measures proposed for Canada: 1) Determine the species’ requirements for mature forests on steep slopes in coastal mountain ranges that are used as winter habitat in British Columbia (Hebert and Turnbull, 1977; Fox et al., 1989). Several coastal populations will be affected by current and future timber harvest operations. Ideally, much or most of this habitat should be preserved. 2) Obtain more accurate population inventories in all regions of Canada to allow more detailed management plans to be developed.

In the United States, primary conservation measures have included habitat protection, introductions and re-introductions, and harvest regulation. Eight state wildlife management departments have transplanted mountain goats from native ranges in Canada and the United States. Six of these states did not have indigenous populations. Many transplanted populations were established with only 10 to 15 founder animals. Goats are harvested in nine states under conservative regulations of the wildlife departments which monitor populations. The mountain goat occurs in nine federal protected areas: Alaska: Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords, and Wrangell - St. Elias National Parks; and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge; Montana: Bison Range National Wildlife Refuge; Glacier National Park; South Dakota: Mount Rushmore National Monument; Washington: North Cascades, and Mount Rainier National Parks. However, most herds are in national forests including many wilderness areas). The International Order of Rocky Mountain Goats, a private organization, raises funds for research and management of the species. One state, Colorado, uses two hunting licenses in an auction and a raffle to raise funds for these activities.
Citation: Festa-Bianchet, M. 2008. Oreamnos americanus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
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