Dean M. Chriss
Mountain Goat, Staring
(Click image to enlarge)
I met this mountain goat on a trail, and instead of continuing down the slope it
stopped and stared at me for quite a while, probably wondering what this odd two
legged creature with bad balance was doing way up here. I had time for a photo
before the obliging mountain goat continued on its way.
Mountain goats are not true goats, but they are related. The mountain goat (Oreamnos
americanus), also known as the Rocky Mountain goat, is a sure-footed hooved
mammal endemic to North America. They live in subalpine to alpine regions
and are commonly seen climbing on impossibly steep cliffs, even in ice and
snow. They have cloven hooves with two toes that spread wide to improve
their balance and rough pads on the bottom of each toe to provide a good
grip on slippery surfaces. Mountain goats are powerful and nimble climbers
that can jump roughly 12 feet in a single bound.