Mountain goats thrive in rugged, craggy mountainous areas from the Western United States into Canada and Alaska at elevations from sea level to 14,000 feet.


Members of the Bovidae family, these ungulates belong to a group of animals known as goat-antelopes. Blunt-bodied with narrow faces, their coats are white, sometimes with a yellow hue, and they have a thick, woolly under fur. Both males and females have shaggy beards and permanent black horns that can be up to 9 inches long. Their sharp but padded hooves allow the sure-footed animals to move about on rocks and ice. Adults can weigh 150-300 pounds.


Grazers and browsers, mountain goats are opportunists, feeding upon grasses, shrubs and mosses, often based upon the plants' seasonal availability at different elevations. The rutting season occurs during the early winter, with the young "kids" - occasionally twins - being born in early spring. Females are "nannies"; the larger males are called "billies." Females with kids are often seen in groups or nursery bands in early to midsummer.


About 600 mountain goats - descendants of transplants over the past 30 years from the Northwest, notably the state of Washington - live in Utah mountain ranges. They are not believed to be native to the area in recent history, though they probably once were. Herds or social groups are principally found in the Uinta Mountains; the Wasatch Mountains, from Ben Lomond to Springville; and the Tushar Mountains. Concerns recently have been expressed about their impacts on some native plants.