Seasonal Habitat Use and Movements of Mountain Goats, Oreamnos americanus, in East-central British Columbia

Kim G. Poole, Douglas C. Heard


To identify the potential for adverse effects of forest development on Mountain Goats (Oreamnos americanus), we documented the patterns of forest use by goats and the factors influencing goat habitat use. We used a combination of 15 very high frequency (VHF) and six global positioning system (GPS) radiocollars to document the distribution and movements of 21 (15 female, 6 male) goats from 1997 to 1999 in the mountains surrounding the Robson Valley in east-central British Columbia. Because canopy closure reduces the likelihood that a GPS receiver will obtain a location fix, we estimated that GPS collars underrepresented forest use by about 23%. Three goats used separate winter and summer ranges separated by 8–13 km, while most simply exhibited seasonal shifts in elevation. In winter, goats were more often at lower elevations, in commercial forest stands, on southerly aspects, and moved less each hour and over the course of the winter. Goat use declined in areas >500 m from escape terrain and goats were found lower in elevation from evening to dawn compared to daylight hours. Collared goats used high elevation licks, which were either within their home range, or in two cases, 6 and 14 km from their typical home range. We documented use of known mid-elevation mineral licks by three collared goats, but no use of known low elevation (valley bottom and lower slopes) mineral licks. Robson Valley goats appeared to be at relatively low risk from disturbances related to logging, because although forest use was documented during winter, it occurred primarily on high elevation, steep slopes where trees are currently of low commercial value, and goats made little use of low elevation mineral licks. We recommend that in this area a forested buffer of 500 m around cliffs be left to reduce the possibility of adverse effects on goats especially, on southerly aspects above 1300 m.


Mountain Goats; Oreamnos americanus; British Columbia; distribution; habitat use; home range; mineral licks; movements

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