Mountain goats are located in British Columbia, Yukon, Alaska, Montana, Washington and several other places in North America. About 50% of all mountain goat populations are situated in British Columbia. A few issues that need to be addressed are variances in population estimates, discrepancies in numbers, localized reductions of populations and effects of the growing commercial recreation tenures and the oil and gas industry.
Conceptual Model of Mountain Goat Ecology in British Columbia
The fact that mountain goats are only found in North America makes them a very distinct species. Mountain goats inhabit wet and dry climates in British Columbia and the only areas where they are not found are the Coastal Islands. They consume ferns, grasses, herbs, shrubs and many other plants. The ruggedness and location of mountain goat habitat protects them from most industrial development however, there has been pressure put on from logging, mining and commercial recreational tenures. Mountain goat populations are stable so far but their habitats should be kept suitable to support a healthy population.
There are disagreements on the harvest rates and the harvest of female mountain goats should be maximum 30% of the total harvest. It’s important to educate the hunters on how to identify female mountain goats and to determine a sustainable harvest rate. To achieve these objectives it is recommended to create an educational program on the effects on female harvest and to conduct studies on the effects of different harvest rates.
Problems regarding the inventory and monitoring of populations include the health of the herds, lack of funding and estimates ranging from 36,000-63,000 animals. To solve these problems a system should be developed that uses the knowledge of guide outfitters to monitor the populations and also acquire knowledge of the physical health of the mountain goats. Strategies include developing a relationship between guide outfitters and the Ministry of Environment and reviewing all compulsory inspection data collected since 1963.
There are areas where the mountain goat populations are declining. This might be due to increased access for people to mountain goat habitats and due to wind power developments. Therefore, it is critical to determine the effects of the increased access to the habitats and restore the populations to their historical numbers. Mapping should be used to flag areas where the access and disturbance are a concern.
Increasing predation is also a reason for the declining mountain goat populations however, it is still important to determine detailed causes for the decline. If it is found that in some areas predators are a leading cause for the decline of the mountain goat populations then a predator management plan is to be implemented.
The Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia had conducted several workshops about mountain goats to find recommendations for solutions concerning several issues regarding the species.
The problems to be solved include predator management, harvest management, habitat management and inventory and modelling of populations. The recommendations mentioned in this document are raising awareness of the effect of female harvest, implementing a predator management program, using information to acquire more accurate data for mapping and inventory and study mountain goat areas more to determine effects of different harvest rates.
- Source Guide Outfitters association of British Columbia. March 2009. GOABC Wildlife Stewardship SERIES III. Mountain Goats - Preparing for the Future : An Action Plan for the Mountain Goats. Available at : https://www.goabc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/WSS3-MountainGoat.pdf [Accessed 03/2021].