An Annual Goat Gathering

The animals focus their activity at wet seeps on the lick where more minerals are carried in solution. Mountain goats are crepuscular in nature, and daily use of the lick tends to occur most frequently during twilight spans of dawn and dusk. A goat typically licks for a total of 24 hours, in 4-6 hour durations, on its first seasonal visit to the site. After the first day, more time is spent in feeding and bedding. Because individual goats compete for the best licking area, aggressive interactions are common on the lick. Watch for threatening horn swipes and rushes. The social ranking of goats serves to reduce direct conflict which, due to the sharpness of their horns, could result in serious injuries. At the lick, adult males (billies) and females (nannies) with kids share a position of near equal dominance, followed by barren nannies, subadults, and yearlings. On the range, however, adult billies often appear to be subordinate to nannies with kids.

By Rod Benson
Earth Science Teacher at Helena High School

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