Utah's southernmost mountain goat herd, ranging on the Tushar Mountains in Sevier, Beaver and Piute counties, is expected to increase this year because the eight animals transplanted in 1986 have reached maturity.

One kid was born last summer, and more are expected this year.The herd is doing well, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials. The animals have been located from the air on numerous occasions since the transplant.

All goats were radio tracked on the ground by division officers and Forest Service personnel last summer.

Agency officers, horseback riders and hikers have also seen the animals. All goats have apparently survived.

The historic range of mountain goats extended only as far south as central Idaho, but the Tushar Mountain transplant of eight goats now puts them in southern Utah.

DWR officials believe the population will survive if the public helps protect them from disturbance and poaching. It is anticipated the herd will expand because of the quality of the habitat.

Officials have requested that sightings be reported to the division or the Fishlake National Forest. They are particularly looking for kids and goats with radio collars and ear tags. People are warned not to approach the goats too closely.

Mountain goats typically inhabit rock crags near snowline and feed on high mountain vegetation. The Tushars are the highest mountains in southern Utah, parts of which range above 12,000 feet elevation and above timberline.

The animals generally stay at high elevations even during the winter, but exceptionally deep snows can force them to lower ranges.

Adults weigh from 100 to 300 pounds and have a coarse, white coat and beards.

Horns and hooves are smooth and black. Both sexes have horns, but those of the males are larger and more curved.

Goats have great traction and dexterity in rough terrain because of slightly convex hooves and a pliable pad extending beyond the edges of the shell.

Their vision is poor unless an object is moving, but their sense of smell is keen.

They are generally seen in small groups, and their range is frequently limited from only three to six miles across.

"Nursery bands" of females are found during September and October, but they disband and run with males during the breeding season. Animals will usually breed for the first time at the age of 2 1/2 years.

Young are born in May and June, generally only one to the adult female. It takes only a few hours for a newborn kid to negotiate rough terrain.