Mountain Goats of Wyoming

The white, dense winter coat of the mountain goat is striking. In these photos the hair coat is not yet at its fullest (but still doing a good job of transporting seeds). The goats’ ability to easily traverse treacherously steep terrain is legendary. They are effortless as they leap up and down almost vertical cliff faces.

Wyoming has a small population of mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus). With a statewide management objective of less than 600 animals, it’s a treat to see them. Mountain goat range in the U.S. is relatively small, and the resident herds in Wyoming can be traced back to translocation efforts of the 1940s and 1960s from Idaho and Montana.1

Mountain goat range of the lower United States
Mountain goat, Oreamnos americanus, range of the lower United States

There is paleontological evidence of mountain goats in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, but no reliable sightings in Wyoming from the 1880s to 1920s.2 For this reason, mountain goats are not considered a native species of Wyoming.

1 Rudd, W.J., Kauffman, M., Meacham, J., Sawyer, H., Ostinlind, E., and Steingisser. A.  2018. Wild Migrations: Atlas of Wyoming’s Ungulates. Oregon State University Press, pgs. 30-31.

2 Schullery, P. and Whittlesey, L. 2001. Mountain Goats in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: A Prehistoric and Historical Context. Western North American Naturalist. Vol. 61, No. 3 (July 2001), pp. 289-307.

Oreamnos americanus range data from USGS. 2001.

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