Find the best places to hunt Mountain Goat in Canada and discover the Mountain Goat's Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Provinces with Mountain Goat Hunting

North West Territories Resident and Non Resident
Yukon Resident and Non Resident
British Columbia Resident and Non Resident
Alberta Resident and Non Resident


Selecting a Hunting Calibre for Mountain Goats

Vital Shot Placement for Mountain Goats 

Vital Shot Placement for Mountain Goats 

Original Photo By: Mark Tyra - Flickr

Modified by 

Much like hunting sheep. Goat calibers mentioned are the .270, with additional references to the 7mm and the 300 magnum. The reason behind these choices cited is the need for a rifle to be able to make a long shot and the need for a lightweight firearm.

Again bullet choice seemed to come in at about 100-120 grains, really good optics, and mounting systems are always in the formula for a great sheep gun. 





Range and Habitat of Mountain Goats

In Canada, the range of the mountain goat (also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat) extends along most of the mountain ranges of British Columbia, the alpine zone of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, the southern portion of the Yukon, and near NahanniNational Park in the southwest corner of the North WestTerritories. 

 Mountain Goat Range Map of Canada

Mountain Goat Range Map of Canada

Original map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Modified By:


At elevations that can exceed 13,000 feet (4,000 m), the mountain goat is the largest mammal in Canada to inhabit that altitude. They primarily frequent the mountain ranges and subalpine zones of the mountains. But they sometimes descend to sea levels in coastal areas. Normally they stay above the tree line throughout the year, however, they will seasonally migrate to higher or lower elevations within their range.

These seasonal movements are fostered by their nutritional needs, reproductive needs, movements to/from rutting areas, and foraging conditions.

Although there is no physical need for salt. Salt licks are an important component of their diet; traditional salt licks are returned to throughout the summer. It appears that they just like the taste and with this desire Mountain Goats will travel long distances to reach these salt licks. Aggressive behavior is common once they are there.

Nannies in the spring will seek the safety of a secluded ledge higher up the mountain in order to "kid".

Goats in the winter will seek more windswept areas in order to forage for food.

Daily individual movements by mountain goats is reflected by an individual’s need to forage, rest, maintain its core internal temperature and security from predators or other disturbance(s). These daily movements are primarily confined to areas on the same mountain face, drainage basin, or alpine opening that they occupy, with 6-7 feeding-resting cycles every day.

Mountain Goats are most active at dawn and dusk; however, they are also active throughout the day and night. Adult males travel less than 1 km/day while adult females travel 2-5 km/day, potentially more when in nursery groups.

In some populations, males do travel extensively during the rut; this depends on the distance between neighbouring groups, for Mountain Goats do not have particular rutting ranges.

Habitat Description:

  • Preferred habitat includes areas that provide escape terrain, including steep cliffs (45-60o), bluffs, rocky outcrops, and slopes formed by an accumulation of broken rock debris at the base of cliffs within Alpine tundra and subalpine sub-regions.

  • Snow generally covers the ground 8-9 months of the year.

  • They rely on alpine meadows for foraging; however, they rarely venture far from the escape terrain of rocky cliffs.

  • Adult males commonly forage below the tree line within coniferous forests; adult females with juveniles rarely travel below the tree line.

  • During winter, Mountain Goats prefer to use lower elevation habitats to avoid deep snow, often foraging at or below the tree line.

  • Bedding sites are often located near or on cliffs where individuals have a clear view of their surroundings; they use their front hooves to dig bedding site into 3-10 cm of soft ground.

  • Competition for bedding sites is common and neighbors are often only 1-4 m away.

  • Annual home range size is approximately 21 km2 and 24 km2 for males and females, respectively.

Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus)

Mountain Goat

Billy Nannie
Life Span 12-15 years 12-15 years
Shoulder Height  3.33 ft (1 meter)  
Overall Length 47–70 in (120–179 cm)  

150 - 225 lb (68 and 102 kg)

Males are often 40-60% heavier than females.

120-160 1b (54.4 - 72.6 kg)
Weight at Birth 7 pounds  (3 KG)
Eyes Able to detect moving objects at 1 Kilometer 
Dental Formula  2 (0/4 incisors, 3/3 pre-molars, 3/3 molars) = 32. 
Body Temperature  
Feet Two toed Ungulate
Can Travel 15 miles per hour (24 K/Hr) 
Diet Herbivore
Sexual Maturity 12 months 48 months 
Breeding Time late November to early January
Gestation N/A 90 to 120 days
Birthing N/A late May or early June
# in Litter N/A Usually one 
Weaning 90 - 120 days
Communication Vocalization (in breeding season)

Description of Mountain Goat

 Description of Mountain Goat

mountain goat description Photo From: Pixabay

Modified by:

Mountain goats are suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes with pitches exceeding 60°. This is done with the aid of inner pads that provide traction, cloven hooves that can spread apart, and sharp dewclaws to keep them from slipping. 

The mountain goat is one of the toughest animals to determine its' sex in the field. Both full adult billy (male) and full adult Nanny (female) goats have long beards under their throat, short tails, black lips, black eyes, black nose, relatively short legs, a pronounced hump over their shoulder, and long black horns at 15–28 cm (5.9–11.0 in) in length that are about the same length. Horn length is not a good judging factor for as little as 1" can make the difference of a Boone and Crocket goat or not.

Males have thicker horns, with a greater diameter at the base of the horn, and greater diameter along the entire length of the horn. Female horns are thinner at the base and through out the length of its horn. The curvature of the horn is also different between a Billy and a Nanny. Males exhibit a smooth, even curvature throughout the entire length of the horn, while a females horn is straight most of the way and then it has a distinctive curvature 2/3 of the way to the tip and that curvature slants back towards the body of the sheep.

Comparing the width between the bases of the two horns the Nannies has a greater gap while the Billys' in narrower. This feature provides one of the best ways to distinguish the sex of a mature goat. Mature billys will have bases which are greater than the width of his eye. Even the oldest Nannies will have horn bases equal to or less than her eye width.

Goats are known to urinate right after they get up and this posture is a good way to determine the sex of a goat. Males will stretch their hind legs backward, separate their rear legs to the side and arch their back.Females tend to squat with their hind quarters close to the ground when urinating.

Part of a Mountain Goats camouflage is that of two wooly, white coats to hide them in a snowy environment. The shortest coat is a fine dense undercoat that is covered by an outer layer of longer, hollow hairs (the winter coat). Mountain goats will moult off the winter coat in June and July, they shed with the aid of rubbing against rocks and trees. Adult males shed their extra wool first, the pregnant nannies shed last, and they grow back their winter coat in September. Their coats help them to withstand winter temperatures as low as −50 °F (−46 °C) and winds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h). 

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Mountain Goats

Billy Goat (Male)
Billy GoatPhoto From: Pixabay

As a herbivore, Mountain Goats are considered intermediate feeders in that they, consume a variety of both grass/forbs (grazer) and woody plant (browser) forage types. Their diet consists of fescue, bluegrass, wheatgrass, hairgrass, sedges, herbs, rushes, lichens, bluebells, willows, birch and sagebrush. The same generalized diet is consumed year-round, with a slight shift in the types of plants consumed from 55%grasses, 30% forbs and 15% browse in the summer to 60%grasses, 10% forbs and 30% browse in the winter.

Aggressiveness between individuals does occur when forage is scarce.

In the summer, it is estimated that the mountain goat takes in about 4,980 kilocalories per day which is approximately 39% more energy than they actually require. This results in an increase in weight, but their winter diet will drop to about 1,590 kilocalories per day, which results in a 12% loss in net energy per day.

A Mountain goat’s lifespan is limited by the wear on its teeth and lives 12 to 15 years,

Conifers Moss Ferns Grasses

Mountain Goat Breeding and Reproduction

Nanny and Kid 

Mountain Goat - Nanny with kid Photo From:

Each mountain goat has a social ranking and that rank determines who gets the best sleeping arrangements, the best food plots, who forages first, and who gets to use the mineral licks first. Social rank obviously has its benefits but those benefits are determined in part by the age of the ewe with the larger older nannies at the top of the ranking order. The kids will have the same rank as their mother and if a male happens to be around, except during mating season, his rank is the lowest of all.

Nannies will spend much of the year (with their kids) in a social group of up to 20 individuals. Nannies are quite aggressive and will often jockey within the group in order to maintain their dominance. This display for dominance fighting can be very competitive and serves to protect their space and food sources. A female will display aggressiveness more in the form of a display than an actual battle. These displays consist of arching their back and showing a side profile in order to appear larger, lowering their heads and displaying their horns, sudden rushing of another female, and pushing other females while they walk. These movements are harmless for the most part but can occasionally lead to injuries and death. In order to avoid a fight, a female may submit by stretching low to the ground.

In areas below the tree line, predators like wolves, wolverines, lynxes, or bears will prey on a goat of any age. Here the nannies must use their fighting skills to defend themselves and their young from predators, by stabbing with their long sharp horns and sometimes pushing attackers off of ledges. The cougar is perhaps the most effective predator and hunting Mountain Goats as it is powerful enough to take down the largest adult goat and is nimble enough to navigate the goats' rocky environment. At higher altitudes, there are not as many predators present, and it is here that that kids can fall victim to attacks from golden eagles.

Sexual maturity for a goat is reached at about 30 months of age and an interesting fact is that the sex of the offspring is largely determined by the age of the Nanny. Research has shown that those Nanny’s at or less than 6 years of age produced a female lamb 75% of the time. While those Nanny’s that were 10 years of age or older produced a female lamb 25% of the time.

After the breeding season is over, the gestation period for a pregnant Nanny is approximately 190 days. Giving birth or "lambing" is highly synchronized to correspond to the seasonal development of spring forage. This lambing period among the females generally occurs within a two week period between mid-May and early June. The nannies will isolate themselves within a rocky outcrop, a secluded gully, or canyon prior to giving birth. Each female will have 1-2 kids (twins occur 25% of the time, triplets are rare). After birth, the nannies will lick the kid dry and ingest the placenta The kid is on its feet within minutes of arrival into its sparse mountain environment and can readily follow its mother after two or three days. Then Nannies will rejoin her flock (nursery group) of 10 or more Nannies, kids, yearlings, and immature rams. The Nannies will remain with her kid for up to a year (or until the Nannies gives birth again if this does not occur the next breeding season).

In these nursery groups, one Nanny may watch over a group of frolicking kids that like to play games chasing each other on the rocks and jumping from boulder to boulder and allow the other Nannies to forage. If you spot a Nanny with three or more kids you can bet that the rest of the nanny group is very close at hand.

Kids frequently feed on the Nannies’ rich milk at first but will progress to nibbling tender plants at about two weeks of age and by the time they are five or six months old they will be weaned from nursing. Their growth is rapid in that they will go from their birth weight of 4.5 kg to about 29 kg by the end of their first summer.

Nannies are quite protective of their young and lead them out of danger, stand over them when faced by predators, and position themselves below their kids on steep slopes to stop free falls.

During the summer period, rams will establish an order of dominance in which rank depends mainly on horn size. Fights may break out but resolving the issue is usually settled without injury. In cases of similar horn size, however, as when separate bachelor bands meet, dominance must be settled by a fight. They do not fight head-to-head but rather stand side-by-side and stab at each other's flanks. Their flanks are covered with a thick skin that helps protect them from serious injury, however, deaths are recorded from time to time and those deaths are generally wounds to the chest, neck, or abdomen of the recipient.


Mountain goat breeding season begins in late November and lasts until early January. Gestation is about 150 to 180 days and 1 to 3 kids are born in May to June. The female gives birth on very steep cliffs in her home range to avoid predators. The young are mobile shortly after birth. The young are weaned after 3 to 4 months and stay with the mother until she gives birth the following year. Sexual maturity is reached after 30 months in both sexes, although Cote and Festa-Bianchet (2001) found that kid production was highest among female goats at 8 to 9 years of age. These authors also found that age and social rank were positively correlated, so older females of a higher social rank tend to produce more offspring than lower-ranked, younger females


Mountain Goat - Kid
Photo By: Darklich14 - Own work, CC BY 3.0, 

By mid-summer, breeding females will weigh 60-75 kg. or more and have a total length of 140-170 cm. The Nannies reach sexual maturity at four years of age, on average (3-7 years). Nannies in a herd undergo synchronized estrus in late October through early December, at which time the males and females participate in a mating ritual that consists of mature billies staring at nannies for long periods, digging rutting pits, and fighting with other billy's in showy (though occasionally dangerous) scuffles. Youngbillyssometimes try to participate in the mating ritual, but they will mostly be ignored by the nannies. Nannies are instigators in that they will sometimes pursue an inattentive billy. Both males and females are polygamists and usually mate with multiple individuals during the breeding season.  

Rams begin courtship in September by attempting to join small bands of ewes. Rams at this point are fairly easy to pick out from the herd as their coats are quite dirty from digging and wallowing in rutting pits. Male courtship of ewes is submissive in nature in that the rams will keep his distance, approaches with a low stance showing the broad side of the face and beard, licking the female's coat, and kicking the female's flanks. It will not be until late October that the females will accept the courtship rituals of the males and allow them to approach.

A fall nursery band comprises the ewes, the lambs of those ewes, yearlings that have not left the band, and these new found adult rams that have joined them for mating purposes. The dominant ram will try to prevent any other male in the group or approaching the group from mating with any receptive nanny in the band.

After the breeding season is over, males and females separate. The adult billies will break up into small bands of two or three bachelor groups while the nannies will form a loose-knit nursery groups of up to 50 animals.

Although either sex may be legally harvested, hunters are encouraged to select animals other than females with kids and some provinces (like British Columbia,) prohibit the taking of an adult goat that has a kid. Biologists suspect that orphan kids have a significantly reduced chance of survival during their first winter. The high death toll of kids and year old goats impacts the ability of the mountain goat to reproduce and yields this mammal a low productivity ratio. Maintaining a high number of mature females is desirable for good management of mountain goats.

Status of the Mountain Goat in Canada

Mountain GoatPhoto From:

The General Status of Alberta Wild Species report of 2010 lists the mountain goat as Secure.

The mountain goat is considered secure globally. In BritishColumbiathe mountain goat is ranked S4, is on the provincial Yellow List, and is considered “apparently secure and not at risk of extinction” (B.C. Conservation Data Centre 2010). Mountain goats rank as priority 1, the highest priority rank, for Goal 2 “Prevent species and ecosystems from becoming at risk” by the British Columbia Conservation Framework, a tool to assess and rank species and ecosystems for conservation action (B.C. Ministry of Environment 2009). 

Predation is not a major factor influencing Mountain Goat survival; the most significant causes of death are avalanches, falls and starvation during adverse weather conditions.

The largest threat to their population is road development and the associated disturbances.

Given the opportunity, wolves, wolverines, lynxes, and bears will prey on mountain goats of any age and Golden Eagles will snatch lambs right form the rocky ledges.




Photo Credits - Background

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