Rocky Mountain Goats

This past August after leaving Mount Rushmore and traveling along Highway 89 in the Black Hills, we stopped at a highway turn-out for some photos.  Looking at the beauty of the landscape and odd rock formations as well as searching for wildlife, it was then that I spotted several Rocky Mountain Goats just hanging out below and to my right on the rocky granite cliffs.

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Rocky Mountain Goats are not native to South Dakota.  In 1924, six of these goats were gifted to nearby Custer State Park by the Canadian government.  Excellent climbers, those six goats quickly escaped their penned area and headed to the craggy granite core of the Black Hills for refuge.

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Today, their primary range now extends over 32,000 acres at elevations from about 4,000 feet to over 7,200 feet.

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Once fall and winter approach, the Rocky Mountain Goat’s fur coat will grow longer and quite shaggy to protect them from the elements.

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Rocky Mountain Goats are grazing animals.  Their diet includes grasses, herbs, sedges, ferns, moss, lichen, and shrubs.

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As I watched and shot some wonderful photo ops, the goats skillfully climbed and stood on sides of granite as if it was no accomplishment.  It was quite amazing!

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The Rocky Mountain Goat has been part of regulated hunting through the years since their arrival, but it was stopped in 2007 due to a noticeable decline in population.  This year marks the reopening of the Rocky Mountain Goat hunting season September 1 – December 31 after being closed for the past nine years.

I was disappointed to find out that information.  They are too cute to shoot, except with a camera!  By the time I stopped photographing them, there was a crowd of people around me, watching and laughing and totally enjoying these unique animals.  I am certain they would all agree with me.

Hopefully, this small group of goats has been outsmarting the hunters!  🙂

38 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain Goats

  1. These goats are so beautiful, Donna! I hope they will outsmart the hunters until end December. Thanks for this great climb 🙂

  2. dovrebbe essere vietata la caccia, nessuno può fare del male ad animali cisì belli! il loro pelo così candido e soffice contrasta con il grigio delle rocce, splendido contrasto di splendide foto
    bellissilo incontro!
    grazie
    Annalisa

    • Thanks so much, Maralee! I had hoped to locate some of them while we were in the area. This small group more than filled my wishes! Let’s hope they outsmart the hunters. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for the post. I was totally unaware of Rocky Mountain Goats. They are adorable subjects.They almost seem to have a self-awareness of just how cute they are.

  4. Beautiful, Donna! Thanks for sharing. I remember watching mountain goats while we were on a trip in Alaska, and the mother was moving quickly down the steep cliffs, seemingly paying no attention to the kid behind her. We held our breath as we watched the little one try to keep up with momma – and he/she did! I guess you either make it or you don’t, if you are a goat on a mountain, and you have to learn at a young, young age!

    • Thanks Susan, and you’re welcome. I didn’t include photos (not focused well) of a little one trying to climb up to an adult, maybe his momma; he then fell a good 6-8 feet, but somehow someway he landed on his four hooves on another rock ledge. I almost croaked watching it happen! lol 🙂

  5. You are right, these are remarkably beautiful creatures. I raise dairy goats so I have an affinity for goats. These Rocky Mountain Goats are actually goat-antelopes, I looked it up since there are structural differences as compared to our domesticate goats. I love all goats, though, including these. Thanks for the glorious pics !!

    • Thanks so much for your comments and info! The name goat-antelopes makes sense, and I too just looked them up and saw the connection to Rocky Mountain Goats. Again, thanks, I’m always interested in learning something new each day! 🙂

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