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Title: The Rocky Mountain Goat
Author: Grant, Madison
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber Notes

  Text emphasis shown as _Italics_.
  Whole and fractional numbers displayed as 13-1/2.


by Madison Grant



Photographed in northern British Columbia by the late E. A. Stanfield.]












  Copyright, 1905, by the

List of Illustrations


  Typical Mountain Goat Country                Frontispiece.

  Rocky Mountain Goat and Sheep                            6

  Goat Country                                             8

  Rocky Mountain Goat (Dead)                              10

  Rocky Mountain Goat (Head)                              11

  Rocky Mountain Goat (Mounted Specimen)                  14

  Rocky Mountain Goat (Mounted Specimen)                  15

  Rocky Mountain Goat and Sheep                           17

  Seven Mountain Goat Kids                                19

  Kids of Mountain Goat and Sheep                         21

  Two Goat Kids                                           23

  Mounted Head (Front)                                    26

  Mounted Head (Side)                                     27

  Skull of Goat (Front)                                   30

  Skull of Goat (Side)                                    31



Born in the spring of 1904, captured near Fort Steele and Michel, British


Ninth Annual Report of the New York Zoological Society.



The white or Rocky Mountain goat shares with the musk-ox the honor
of being the least known of the game animals of North America and
descriptions of it written even as recently as ten years ago are
valueless, as in many cases this animal is confused with white mountain
sheep and even with deer. The explanation of this lack of knowledge lies
in the extremely remote and inaccessible habitat of the goat, which
begins in the northwestern United States, among the highest peaks of
the Rocky Mountains and of the coast ranges and extends north, through
British Columbia, into Alaska. The material in most natural histories,
relating to this animal, is scanty and based on very inadequate
information, since the opportunity to see and hunt it has not been
granted to many. In captivity, we have had, on the Atlantic coast, only
eight immature specimens, two in Boston in 1899, two in Philadelphia in
1893, and the four now (1905) living in the New York Zoological Park. One
well grown male is living at this time in the London Zoological Garden.

As a result of this scarcity of direct knowledge, many myths have
gathered around this mountain dweller, leading, as usual in our North
American game animals, to an abundance of inappropriate names. The name
"goat" is objectionable, but will have to stand until some better term
can be found. The Stoney Indians in Alberta use the name "Waputehk," and
in Chinook, the universal jargon of the Northwest, the goat is called
Snow Mawitch (white deer). Neither of these terms are likely to become
common. It is not a goat, nor even closely related to them, but is the
sole representative on this continent, of a very aberrant group of
so-called mountain antelopes, known to science as the _Rupicaprinæ_, a
Subfamily of the _Bovidæ_.


The _Rupicaprinæ_ comprise five widely scattered genera, extending from
the Pyrenees of Spain, to the Rocky Mountains of the western United
States, as enumerated below.



In western Europe we find first the chamois (_Rupicapra_), known in the
Spanish Sierras and Pyrenees as the izard, and extending eastward through
the Alps and Carpathians as far as the Caucasus. Throughout all this
range only one species is recognized.

The next genus of this group is the goral (_Cemas_), with four species
ranging throughout the Himalayas and parts of China, into Amurland.

In Tibet we have the third and decidedly most aberrant member of the
_Rupicaprinæ_, the takin (_Budorcas_), the horns of which suggest those
of the gnu. Only one species of this genus is known.

The fourth, and to Americans perhaps the most interesting Old World
member of this Subfamily, is the serow (_Næmorhedus_), locally known as
the forest goat. This genus is perhaps, more closely allied to _Oreamnos_
than any of the preceding genera, and its horns resemble those of the
mountain goat, but are shorter and thicker. The genus _Næmorhedus_
inhabits the Himalayas, Tibet and China with outlying representatives
in Burma, Sumatra, Formosa and Japan and it is divided into numerous
species. The fifth genus is _Oreamnos_, the subject of this article.

All the members of these genera resemble the goat in tooth structure,
but differ widely from them in the position and shape of the horns, face
glands and other important details. The whole group is to be regarded as
an early off-shoot of the _Bovidæ_, to some extent intermediate between
the goats and the true bovine antelopes. The _Rupicaprinæ_ must have
pushed north, with their not distant ally the musk-ox, at a very early
time and become adjusted to alpine and boreal conditions. At the close
of the glacial period many of its members deserted the low country and
retired to high altitudes so that in some instances, notably that of
the chamois, we have an example of discontinuous distribution. Its sole
American representative probably reached this continent by way of the
Bering Sea land connection, during the middle Pleistocene, together with
the other American genera of the _Bovidæ_.



Measurements of the animal, in detail, are given on page 35]



_Oreamnos_ as remarked above, while more closely related to _Næmorhedus_
than to the other members of the group, has departed widely in structure
from all of its relatives. Its most striking character is its almost
pure white coat. This coloring is in perfect harmony with an environment
of snow fields, but in some parts of its range it renders the animal
unnecessarily conspicuous. Until white men appeared on the scene, it made
very little difference to the goat whether his enemies could see him
or not, as his home was beyond the reach of pumas, wolves, and for the
most part of bears and until other game became scarce, the Indians did
not hunt this inaccessible peak-dweller too closely. All the types of
_Oreamnos_ are characterized by this white coat and the only exception
is the well authenticated occurrence of goat in the Selkirks of southern
British Columbia, with a clearly-defined dark brown line extending
along the center of the back and terminating in an almost black tail.
This color variation appears to be fixed in both the summer and winter
pelage, as the markings were found on the skins of goats killed both in
July and November. Reports of goat with these characters are widespread
along the upper Columbia River, so that it would seem as though toward
the southern limit of its range, a color variation were just beginning
to appear. In addition to its uniformly white color, _Oreamnos_ differs
from the serow in the prominence of its eye sockets, in the elongated
shape of the muzzle and face, in the position and shape of the horns and
more particularly in the cannon bones, which are exceptionally short and
stout. In this latter respect _Oreamnos_ departs widely from all the
other members of the _Rupicaprinæ_. The most striking character however,
of _Oreamnos_, is the presence, situated in a half circle immediately
behind each horn, of a large, black scent-gland, as large as half an
orange. This gland is sometimes so tough as to wear deeply into the base
of the horn. A horn worn away in this manner was secured by the writer in
British Columbia.

The comparatively short duration of time since the appearance of
_Oreamnos_ in America and the somewhat uniform character of its habitat,
probably account for the absence of much type variation.


The first specimens of the mountain goat to be described, came from the
Cascade Mountains on the Columbia River in Oregon and of course now
stand as the type of _Oreamnos montanus_, having been first described by
Rafinesque in 1817. This subspecies is intermediate in size between the
eastern form of American goat, _O. m. missoulæ_, and the large Canadian
_O. m. columbianus_, and, is characterized by a short but broad skull.
The true _Oreamnos montanus_ extends from about the Canadian boundary,
south through Washington into Oregon. In the '70's a considerable number
were found on Mt. Ranier in Washington, and they still occur on Mt. Baker
to the northward. It is absent, however, from the Olympic Mountains, from
Vancouver Island and from the southern Cascades in Oregon. Nothing is
known of the northern limits of this subspecies, but it probably does not
extend very far into British Columbia, merging at that point into _O. m.
columbianus_. The most southerly Oregon records that the writer has been
able to obtain is Mt. Jefferson in that State, latitude 44° 40' north, in
approximately the same latitude as the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho.

Probably the only place where the goat exists to-day in the State of
Oregon is the mountains in Wallowa County, in the extreme northeast
corner of the State, and the animals from that locality are probably to
be referred to as _O. m. missoulæ_. They have long since vanished from
Mt. Hood and from the other peaks in the western part of the State, where
they once abounded. In the State of Washington they exist in reduced
numbers from the Canadian boundary as far south as Mt. Adams, although at
the latter point they are possibly now extinct. Throughout the State the
frequency of names, such as "goat rocks," "goat paths," "goat buttes" and
"goat creeks," testify to their early abundance, and they were formerly
shot from the decks of steamers on Lake Chelan by hunters who took a
wanton delight in seeing the wounded animals fall down the precipitous

In the Mt. Rainier Forest Reserve they are found in small numbers. In the
isolated volcanic peaks along the coast the goat is too easily reached
to be allowed to survive, and it is probable that before many years the
interesting animal will be entirely exterminated in the United States
except in the main Rockies.

The Alaskan form, at the extreme western limit of the genus, in the
neighborhood of the Mt. St. Elias Alps and the Copper River, was
described by Dr. D. G. Elliot, in 1900, as a second and valid species,
under the name of _Oreamnos kennedyi_. It is strongly characterized by
the lyrate shape of the horns and certain anatomical features.

These two were the only described forms, until 1904, when the attention
of Dr. J. A. Allen, of the American Museum of Natural History, was called
by the writer to the great difference in bulk of body and size of horns
of the goat of British Columbia, and those of the Bitter Root Mountains
in Montana. Upon comparing a number of specimens from the Cascade
Mountains, the type locality of _Oreamnos montanus_, from the Bitter Root
Mountains of Montana and Idaho, from the main Rockies in southern British
Columbia and from the Schesley Mountains of northern British Columbia,
it was found that all these specimens could be divided into three easily
distinguishable groups each of subspecific rank.



Total length with tail, following convolutions of body, 73 inches;
tail, 7 inches; hind foot, 12 inches; height at shoulders, 41 inches;
measurements taken after mounting. On exhibition in the American Museum
of Natural History.]

The skulls of animals killed in the Schesley Mountains by Andrew J. Stone
in 1903, were found to be in all respects identical with those killed by
the writer and Mr. Charles Arthur Moore, Jr., in the main Rockies, near
the Columbia River the following year. Animals from these districts were
characterized by great bulk and by a long and relatively narrow skull.
This was the third type described and it received from Dr. Allen the
name of _O. m. columbianus_. This subspecies probably extends from the
American border up through the Canadian Rockies, to the northern limits
of goat in that region, which is west of the Mackenzie River at about
north latitude 63° 30'. The goat in the northern Rockies, may possibly be
found to be specifically distinct from the goat on the coast of southern


In the midst of the distributional area of this large subspecies and in
the vicinity of the Big Bend of the Columbia River, a very small goat is
found. This animal, upon further investigation, may prove interesting. At
present, however, all the Canadian goats must be provisionally assigned
to _O. m. columbianus_.

A curious break in the range of this subspecies is found just north of
the Liard River, where, according to no less an authority than Andrew J.
Stone, no goat are found for a distance of over a hundred miles. Probably
the local topography, of which we have no knowledge, will explain the
absence of goat from this territory. No goat have yet been found north of
the Yukon River.

_O. m. columbianus_ abounds along the coast ranges of British Columbia,
and extends into Alaska, probably merging in the neighborhood of the
Copper River into _O. kennedyi_, the western-most member of the genus.
The extreme western record for goat is the Matanuska River, not far
from the head of Cook Inlet. Horns from this locality, however, do
not show the characteristics of Kennedy's goat. No goat are reported
in the vicinity of Mt. McKinley, but they are found along the Copper
River for a considerable distance inland, and there is some evidence
of their occurrence on the north side of Mt. St. Elias. It may be well
to remark here that while _O. kennedyi_ is a valid species, founded on
abundant material, no living specimens have been seen by a white man
so far as is known, nor have we any information concerning the limits
of its distribution. _O. m. columbianus_ is by far the largest and
handsomest member of the genus, unless _O. kennedyi_ proves on further
investigation, to excel in these respects. It is, therefore, surprising
that the great differences in size and other characteristics, which
distinguish this type from the goat in the United States have not been
previously recognized.

The animals south of the Canadian border and still in the main range
of the Rockies, upon comparison with the preceding types, were found
to be much smaller, in fact the smallest of all the subspecies and
were characterized by shorter but still relatively narrow skulls. The
specimens of this type under consideration having been killed in the
Bitter Root Mountains, the subspecific name of _O. m. missoulæ_ was given
them by Dr. Allen. This is the fourth and last type to be described,
although these animals from the Bitter Root Mountains were the first goat
known to transcontinental explorers. This is the goat usually hunted by
American sportsmen and its range probably extends from the southeastern
limits of the genus in Montana and Idaho to the Canadian border, where
like _O. montanus_ it passes imperceptibly into _O. m. columbianus_.
The extreme southerly limit of the goat in the Rockies is the Sawtooth
Mountains and the Salmon River in Idaho. It does not reach the Tetons, in
Wyoming, nor does it occur in the Yellowstone Park. The question of its
absence in these localities will be discussed later in this paper.





To sum up, the two American subspecies are smaller than their Canadian
relatives and the type from the Cascade Mountains possesses a broad
skull, in direct contrast to the narrow skulls of all other goats, both
American and Canadian.


The distribution of the genus is limited by the character of the mountain
ranges, rather than any other consideration, and too much emphasis cannot
be placed on the fact, that of all our North American animals the white
goat is the only one absolutely confined to precipitous peaks and ridges,
which even the mountain sheep seldom approach.

The extreme north and south ranges of _Oreamnos_ in the main Rockies
present several problems of great interest. The southern limit is clearly
marked by a change in the formation and ruggedness of the mountains
themselves, which, together with climatic conditions, and the lack of
water in summer on the mountain tops, are sufficient to account for
the absence of these animals much south of their present limit. A very
different condition prevails in the north. At the extreme northern limit
which is about 63° 30', the mountains begin to lose their height but
are still of considerable size and quite rugged enough to provide a
suitable home for _Oreamnos_. White sheep are found all through these
mountains, up to the very coast of the Arctic Ocean and westward through
the Romanzoff Mountains in northern Alaska. These sheep are certainly
not better equipped to resist arctic cold than are the goat, so we must
seek for some cause other than climatic or topographical conditions.
There must be some unknown and unfavorable condition of food supply which
prevents _Oreamnos_ from reaching the extreme north. This is perhaps the
most interesting and difficult of the problems affecting the distribution
of the genus.

Along the Pacific coast of the United States the mountains are not
sufficiently precipitous to attract the goat, and consequently that
animal is found only at some distance inland, but in northwestern
British Columbia and southern Alaska, the Rockies approach the coast in
stupendous chains, which swing westward through the Mt. St. Elias range.
Through all this country the goat occupies the coast region from Prince
William Sound south nearly to the American border. They are not found in
any of the adjacent islands.



Along these coast ranges goat are much more numerous than in the main
Rockies, owing probably to the presence of forests high up in the
mountains and in close contact with the cliffs where the goat lives,
together with a copious supply of water. At all events the conditions
are certainly favorable. North of Skagway goat do not extend inland much
beyond the summit of the coast range, and do not again occur until the
main Rockies are reached, hundreds of miles to the east. The goat in
these eastern mountains are, in all likelihood, specifically distinct
from the coast goat, as practically all the other mammals of these two
distinct faunal areas are separate species.


The writer has carefully traced out the legends regarding the occurrence
of goat in Colorado, Utah, and California. There are persistent stories
about the existence of white goat in Colorado, which, when investigated
seem to have their origin in some domestic goat which are known to have
escaped from captivity. It is, however, a certainty that _Oreamnos_ has
not existed in Colorado since the arrival of the white man, and there is
no proof of its previous existence there. This statement is made after a
full examination of the evidence.

The purpose of this paper has been to gather and summarize the known
facts about this interesting animal and it has been necessary to discard
a large amount of data contained in the literature of the subject.
Statements by certain writers regarding the existence of the goat in
Wyoming, Colorado, California, and even New Mexico, are extremely
misleading. It is positively known that no goat have ever existed on Mt.
Shasta, although this mountain has been a favorite locality for stories
about mountain goat and the mythical ibex. The origin of these fables is
easily traced to the former existence on Mt. Shasta of mountain sheep,
the horns and bones of which are still occasionally found there. The
straight horns of the mountain sheep ewe are probably responsible for
most of these legends. It is bad enough to suggest the occurrence of goat
on Mt. Shasta, but it is utterly absurd to assert their existence on Mt.
Whitney, 300 miles farther south, and it is still worse to include in the
range of the goat New Mexico or the barren coast mountains of southern

[A] See "Sport and Life in Western America and British Columbia," by A.
W. Baillie-Grohman, page 117, London, 1900, and "The Wilderness Hunter,"
page 130, by Theodore Roosevelt.



Now on exhibition in the New York Zoological Park.]

The above examples will suffice to show the loose manner in which this
subject has been treated by writers who have not sifted the evidence

Within the United States the mountain goat is only found in Idaho,
western Montana, Washington, and Oregon. There is no evidence whatever
of the white goat having existed in Wyoming. In examining the rumors
respecting the occurrence of goat one must remember that only a few years
ago very little was known about this animal, and few people had seen it.
In the south, escaped domestic goat and old mountain sheep ewes with
bleached coats and straight horns, have probably been the basis of many
such stories. In some places such animals have been mistaken for white
goat and elsewhere, notably in Alaska, for the legendary ibex. Until
the discovery and description of Dall's white sheep, in 1884, all white
animals in the north were called goat and white mountain sheep meat is
sold to-day in Dawson City restaurants under that name.

There is no reason whatever to believe that the limits of the
distribution of the white goat were ever much different from what they
are now, except in outlying localities along their southern limits. The
center of the greatest abundance of goat appears to be in the coast
ranges in British Columbia and southern Alaska and it is here that they
are found low down the mountain sides and often close to salt water.


It is due to ignorance of the character of the country inhabited by
mountain goat that so much has been written about an alleged antipathy
between _Oreamnos_ and the mountain sheep. It is singular that writers
should go so far afield as to conjure up an imaginary mutual hatred to
account for the undoubted fact that sheep and goat seldom live together.
In some places, however, notably the Schesley Mountains, sheep and goat
can be found on the same mountain side. Sheep belong to the rugged hills
and lower slopes and at one time ranged far eastward into the plains
wherever the character of the country was at all rough, as in the Black
Hills and in the Bad Lands of the upper Missouri.

The sheep is furthermore, a grass-eating animal, while the goat is a
browser, finding his food mainly on the buds and twigs of the forests
that grow to the very foot of the goat rocks. All through the goat
country occur patches of forest and it is there that the goat is found,
between timber-line and the snow fields. So far as we know the only
grazing done by the goat, beyond nibbling at small plants, is on the
slides when the grass first appears and it is probable that to this habit
the greatest mortality of this animal is due, as many are killed each
spring by the avalanches on these snow slides.

OF 1904


Now living and on exhibition in the New York Zoological Park.]

The sheep is an active, wary and fleet-footed animal, fully as well
equipped as the deer to escape by agility from its enemies and is not
dependent for safety on a refuge beyond the reach of other animals.
The goat on the other hand, is heavy, powerful, clumsy, slow moving
and somewhat stupid and does not dare to venture very far from its
inaccessible rocks. It thrives among precipitous cliffs, which are
everywhere known among hunters as "goat rocks" and are recognizable as
such at a glance.


In a mountainous country it is perfectly easy to say where goat are to
be found, if there are any in the neighborhood. They descend, of course,
into the upper limits of the forests, but always keep near to cliffs
to which they can retire when attacked. Sometimes swim rivers and have
been killed while crossing the Stickine far into the forests. Salt-licks
have been found in the hillsides, where great holes have been eaten out
by these animals. The trails which lead to some of the licks in British
Columbia are worn so deeply as to resemble buffalo trails. Goat pass
through the forests and lower slopes of the mountains in moving from one
locality to another, but this of course, is exceptional. They sometimes
swim rivers and have been killed while crossing the Stickine River in
British Columbia, a wide and rapid stream.

So complete is the protection the goat finds in broken rocks and
precipices, that they are practically out of danger from any animal
approaching from below, except bear, which frequently lie in wait for
them and occasionally capture an unwary individual. The eagles take a
very heavy toll from the young goat in the spring.

The difficulty of reaching the mountain tops is, of course, a protection
against man, but the conspicuous color and the slow movements of the
animal make it a comparatively easy victim when once reached by hard


The question of water supply on the mountains inhabited by goat has a
most important bearing on the distribution of the animal. In a large
portion of the southern range of the goat, little or no water is found
from August to October, except what is furnished by such snow fields
as persist throughout the year. All other animals can, during the dry
season, venture down to the valleys and cañons for water, but the goat
seldom leaves the rocks, even for water, relying on the snow of the
mountain tops.

This fact alone, I believe, is sufficient to account for the absence
of the goat, so often commented on by hunters, in many portions of its
range, where other conditions appear to be entirely suitable. In southern
British Columbia the great river valleys, such as those of the Kootenay,
the Columbia and the Beaver, run almost north and south, and prevent
communication from east to west between the goat inhabiting the adjacent
mountains, while these same valleys offer no difficulties to the crossing
of sheep and other large animals. Farther north in the Stickine country
wide valleys are sometimes crossed.

The presence or absence of water on the higher ridges, taken together
with the fact that the goat is not a very restless or migratory animal,
accounts for many of the anomalies that are observed in its distribution.
It is probable that in the course of its life the goat ranges over a
smaller territory than any other of our game animals and unless seriously
disturbed does not venture far from its native haunts as long as the food
supply lasts. They can usually be found day after day on the same spot
and goat have been watched, through glasses, which apparently scarcely
moved for days at a time. Of course, in such a spot, food and water must
be plentiful, and no danger threatening.

Along the Columbia River goat have been sometimes observed to get into
positions on the face of the cliffs, from which they apparently could not
escape. In spite of their great strength and climbing ability, their home
must be an exceptionally dangerous one and it is probable that many lose
their lives through accidents.

In British Columbia, during the early summer, the streams from the
melting snow on the mountain tops are found in every draw and gulch.
During this season small bands of females and kids, or solitary males,
are scattered everywhere in favorable localities, from the upper timber
to the summits of the mountains. As the season advances however and the
snow-fed streams dry up, the only water available is found in the larger
basins where the snow has accumulated in large quantities. These basins
become the feeding ground of the goat and the rest of the mountain side
is deserted, except for an occasional individual traveling along the
summit from one such feeding ground to another, or during the autumn
rutting season, when both sexes are almost constantly on the move.
Connecting two favorite feeding grounds in the Palliser Rockies was
found, in 1903, a well beaten path along the summit-ridge, passing close
to the snow fields and showing constant usage.



On exhibition in the American Museum of Natural History]



In winter the goat suffers from the severity of the storms on the
mountain tops and the limit of its increase is, in the long run,
dependent on the food supply available during this season. This is also
true of most of our large animals and the elimination of the weak takes
place during the terrible blizzards of winter and early spring.

In much of the southern range of the goat the use of the larger valleys
for farming has undoubtedly interfered seriously with their lower feeding
grounds. While the loss of these winter ranges is more serious for other
game, even the goat feels the approach of civilization. The high valleys,
however, still remain untouched and a certain number of hardy individuals
will winter successfully in close proximity to settlements if not too
much hunted. This is notably the case in the Bitter Root Valley, where
goat are often found within sight of the town of Hamilton, Montana.

In winter the question of water supply is, of course, eliminated and at
this season many ranges are well stocked with goat which, in summer,
are deserted on account of lack of water. The goat travels so slowly
that, aside from the danger of venturing far from the rocks, long daily
journeys to and from a feeding ground are quite impossible.

As to food supply, we are apt to think of the mountain tops as barren
in comparison with the valleys; but in a very mountainous region, such
as British Columbia, the reverse is often true. On the higher mountain
slopes and ridges are to be found the best pasturage and the most sunny
resting places. The valleys receive the sun for a much shorter portion of
the day than do the higher ridges and while the mountain tops are above
the fogs, mists and clouds often darken the low country. It is noticeable
that domestic cattle, sheep and horses in a mountainous country, are very
partial to the high lands, seldom remaining voluntarily in the valleys
and river bottoms. In such a country the first impulse of a grazing
animal is to climb high. Anyone who has tried to hunt horses which have
strayed from camp, is apt to be familiar with this habit.

It is the inaccessible character of the country inhabited by the goat
and not his wariness or agility, which has made goat hunting a test
of sportsmanship. Only those sound of wind and limb can venture after
_Oreamnos_. The first rule in goat hunting is to go to the highest point
that can be found and this point is apt to be very high.


The sight of a man does not seriously disturb a goat and it seems to
be of indifferent power of vision. Sounds affect it even less. The
constant falling of rocks and stones and the rumble and breaking up of
the glaciers, close to which it finds its home, has led the goat to
distrust the warning of its ears. Shouting at a goat only arouses a
slight curiosity and the report of a rifle has scarcely more effect. The
hunter may sometimes stand for an hour in plain view of a goat without
disturbing it, but its sense of smell is highly developed and the
slightest trace of human scent will alarm it.

These characters, together with confidence in the inaccessible
nature of its habitat, born of long experience with animals other than
man, have all combined to give the goat its reputation for stupidity. It
probably is stupid, but less so than would appear to those accustomed
to the nervousness of other game animals. The goat, like the skunk, has
a serene reliance in its ability to protect itself and is accustomed to
gaze with indifference at enemies who threaten it from below. The large
males are not lacking in bravery and will savagely fight off a dog when
attacked. Stories are told of wounded goat attacking man when cornered,
but most of the danger to the hunter lies in missing a foothold, or in
the stones rolled down from above by a fleeing animal.

Goat are marvelously tough and can carry more lead even than a grizzly.
It sometimes seems almost impossible to kill them and in some cases when
hopelessly wounded, they show a tendency to throw themselves from a
cliff. That this is a deliberate act on their part is generally believed
by goat hunters, but it is doubtful whether it is more than a last
desperate effort to get out of harm's way.

Goat, like moose, are inclined to be solitary, but are often found in
small family groups. They occasionally assemble in larger numbers in
some favorite feeding ground, as many as twenty-seven having been seen

[Illustration: SKULL OF A GOAT


Main Rocky Mountains, east side of Columbia River, south of Golden,
British Columbia. Measurements in inches: Right horn, 10-1/8 inches;
left, 10-3/16 inches; spread of horns, 4-7/8 inches. These measurements
are the largest on record, with a known history. Same specimen as on
pages 26 and 27.]



The strength of the goat is enormous and while its weight is far
greater than one would at first suppose, it is a matter about which we
have little definite information. An average specimen from the Cascade
Mountains appears to weigh about 150 pounds. A six-year-old goat killed
near Skagway, Alaska, showed an actual weight of 329 pounds. A much
smaller animal killed at the same time and probably a female, weighed
250 pounds. Large goat from the main Rockies, in British Columbia and
Schesley Mountains, have been estimated to weigh as high as 350 and
400 pounds. Mr. Baillie-Grohman publishes an account of a full grown
male goat captured near Deerlodge, Montana, which was weighed after its
capture and "was found to turn the scales at 480 pounds!" This, however,
must be an error.

The size of the goat is emphasized by the long and shaggy coat, which
at the shoulders rises in a hump. This, taken in connection with the
low-carried head, gives the animal the appearance of a pigmy bison.
Careful measurements of goat are hard to obtain, but authentic figures
which were taken by Mr. Stone, of four goat killed in August, 1902, in
the Schesley Mountains, British Columbia, are to be found at the end of
this article.


[B] Measurements of horns are given at the end of this paper.

The horns of the female are slightly longer and much more slender
than those of the male. A little over eleven inches appears to be the
extreme limit of horns for the male. The longest horns known are from
British Columbia, attaining a length of something over ten inches up to
an extreme measurement of eleven and one-half, which appears to be the
record. The horns from the Bitter Root Mountains average at least an
inch shorter, as do those from the coast ranges in the United States.
Any horn measuring over nine inches is to be considered of good size and
anything over ten inches is very exceptional. All measurements of horns
and antlers are subject to considerable variation, owing to the material
of the tape and zeal of the man holding it and this must be taken into
consideration in the measurements of record horns. In the measurement of
the basal girth of sheep horns a variation of as much as an inch has been
found to occur in the recorded size of the same horn taken by different
persons, all quite conscientious in their efforts to be accurate.


The mountain goat has probably a better chance of survival in a wild
state than any other American game animal, except possibly the Virginia
deer. It is protected even from man by the extreme ruggedness of its
mountain habitat and although it will probably be exterminated in certain
localities, if given a moderate amount of protection it can hold its own
throughout most of its range. Its history will probably be like that of
the chamois in Europe, as the country grows more populated.

In some localities it is in great need of protection. In southern British
Columbia, the Indians, who are not amenable to the laws governing the
white man, but are protected by treaty rights secured by the Dominion
government, kill right and left with impunity. In Canada, even more
than in the United States, solicitude for the noble red man works great
injury to all our game animals. In the early days, from motives of
self-interest, the Indian may have been moderate in his killing, but,
having abandoned his archaic weapons in favor of modern fire-arms, he is
now an unmitigated butcher.

The Kootenays on the upper Columbia and the Stoneys on the east face of
the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, are game murderers and it is the boast
of the latter that no game can live where they hunt. In the interest of
game protection in British Columbia, it is greatly to be regretted that
the enforcement of stringent laws cannot be extended to the Indians.
Curiously enough, many persons, who would ordinarily be friendly to game
protection, have become so interested in the natives, that they advocate
hunting privileges for Indians which they deny to the white man, under
the mistaken impression that the Indian kills only what he needs. The
strange delusion has recently led to an attempt by a benevolent United
States Senator to repeal the game laws for Alaska and leave that great
game region to the mercy of the native and meat hunter.


The hunting of the Stoney Indians has been somewhat discouraged by a wise
law recently enacted in the Northwest Provinces, prohibiting the sale of
game heads. This law is especially beneficial to sheep, since the demand
for heads of large rams has been steadily increasing. _Oreamnos_ has not
suffered greatly from head hunting, as its horns do not offer much of
a trophy except when needed to complete a collection of American game
animals. The marketing of game heads cannot be too strongly condemned by
genuine hunters and by those interested in the protection of wild animal


In this connection a word should be said about a proposition to establish
chamois in the Rocky Mountains. Efforts, to introduce European game,
instead of protecting the native American animals, are constantly
cropping out. Why anyone should prefer a chamois to the far finer native
animal is somewhat of a mystery. Nature has provided for every portion
of our country, mammals, birds and fish well adapted to the needs of the
locality, and the introduction of foreign animals simply means, in case
they survive, the crowding out of some native form.

In the East the mountain goat never can be more than an object of
temporary curiosity, as he cannot long survive the rigors of our
Atlantic summer. A number of young goat have been captured in British
Columbia for exhibition in the New York Zoological Park, but while very
docile, and taking readily to the milk of domestic ewes, they all died
before shipment except the four now on exhibition at the Park. The
proper place for the exhibition and breeding of mountain goat is in the
Canadian National Park at Banff, Alberta, where there is an unsurpassed
opportunity to secure and breed not only goat, but also mountain sheep,
bison and even moose in their native environment.


The writer desires to acknowledge his indebtedness for assistance in the
preparation of the above article to Mr. Charles Arthur Moore, Jr., to Mr.
Andrew J. Stone, to Dr. J. A. Allen, to Mr. Charles H. Townsend, to Mr.
Wilfrid H. Osgood, and to members of the Geological Survey, notably Mr.
A. H. Sylvester.


Four goat killed in the Schesley Mountains of British Columbia, in
August, 1902, and measured with extreme accuracy, ran as follows:

                               No. 43.   No. 44.    No. 57.     No. 60.
                               inches    inches     inches      inches
  Total length, end of nose
    to end of tail vertebra     61         65         57         66
  Tail vertebra                  7          8          6          7-1/2
  Tarsus                        13-1/2     14         13         14-1/2
  Height at shoulder            40-1/2     39         36         43

No. 57 was about a half-grown animal.

No. 60 was the largest specimen and its estimated weight was over 400

Detail measurements in millimeters of No. 60[C] are as follows:

  End of nose to lower corner of right eye      220
  End of nose to base of ear                    297
  End of nose to base of right horn             265
  Width of head just over eyes                  147
  Width of nose above nostril                    65
  Width of nostril                               81
  Greatest depth of head                        193
  Depth of nose                                 156
  Depth of chin                                 119
  Between the eyes                              110
  Circumference of horn at base                 153
  Length of horn                                260
  Width between point of horns                  210
  Length of ear                                 150
  Width of ear                                   65
  Length of beard                               110
  Length of front foot                           83
  Width of front foot                            72
  Extreme width of dew claws outside             80
  Length of front of front hoof                  52
  Hind foot, length                              71
  Hind foot, width                               72
  Length of dew claw                             52
  Width of dew claws                             34

[C] No. 60 is goat shown on page 10.


Four large specimens in the United States National Museum, Washington, D.
C., selected and measured by Madison Grant on February 4, 1905, gave the
following dimensions:

       Right.   Left.
  [M]  10       9-3/4  Lake Chelan, Washington.
  [F]   8-1/2   8-1/2      "            "
  [F]   8-5/8   8-1/4  Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.
  [F]   7-5/8   7-3/4           "            "

Fifteen specimens in the American Museum of Natural History, New York
City, were measured by Dr. J. A. Allen, with the following result:

                   Right.   Left.   Spread.
  15752   --       7-1/2    7-1/2   4-3/4 _O. m. missoulæ_,    Missoula, Montana.
  22694   [M]      9        9-1/16  4-7/8  "  "     "            "         "
  22695   [M]      9-3/4    8-5/8   4-1/4  "  "     "            "         "
  19335   [M]      9        --      --     "  "     "            "         "
  19337   [F]      9-13/16  9-3/4   4-7/8  "  "     "            "         "
  19836   [M] jnr. 7-3/16   8-1/4   6-1/2  "  "  columbianus, Schesley Mts., B. C.
  19837   [M]      --       9-1/8   --     "  "       "           "     "    "  "
  19838   [M]      9-7/8   10       8-1/8  "  "       "           "     "    "  "
  19839   [M]      9-1/8    8-7/8   5      "  "       "           "     "    "  "
  19858   [F]      8-1/2    8-1/2   5-7/8  "  "       "           "     "    "  "
  21504   [F]      9-3/4    9       4-5/8  "  "       "       Main Rockies,  "  "
  21505   [F]      9-7/8    9-7/8   5      "  "       "         "    "       "  "
  21506   --       7-5/8    7-3/8   4-7/8  "  "       "         "    "       "  "
  [D]Head [M]     10-1/8   10-3/16  4-7/8  "  "       "         "    "       "  "
  [E]Mt.  [M]      9-7/8    9-5/8   6-1/2  "  "       "         "    "       "  "

[D] Head shown on page 26, property of Madison Grant.

[E] Property of Charles Arthur Moore, Jr.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber Notes

  All occurrences of _O.m.columbianus_ were changed to _O. m. columbianus_.
  Illustrations were moved so as not to split paragraphs.
  On p. 13, "as" was added "... to be referred to as _O. m. missoulæ_."

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