After driving the ‘Going to the Sun’ road through Glacier National Park and a stop for huckleberry ice cream at East Glacier, my husband and I arrived at the ‘goat lick’ hoping to see mountain goats. As you can see from the photo, we were not disappointed!
Oreamnos americanus or Rocky Mountain Goats, as they are also called, live on steep cliffs where they can outrun most of their enemies. The females (nannies) give birth to one to three kids in late spring. It is amazing that these kids are able to follow their moms up and down the steep slope shortly after birth.
From behind the fence at the observation point, we watched several nannies and their kids climb both directions on a vertical surface. Although mostly sure-footed, I did watch one little guy slide when he hit a patch of loose gravel. Thank goodness, his mom pre-positioned herself right below the youngster and stopped his fall. I imagine, she did that deliberately. From the expression on her face, I sensed this was not the first time she saved this over-confident kid.
If you find yourself near Glacier National Park, be sure to enjoy some huckleberry ice cream. I also recommend allowing several hours to watch the goats. Reluctantly, I was pulled away after two plus hours watching these goats.
Reference: Oreamnos americanus, mountain goat by Julie Fitch, Brandi Guilliams, Whitney Mowbray, Allent Patton and Sean Glass, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web.