Nature Notes

Vol. XII August, 1934 No. 8

Notes on Mt. Goat

When mountain goat are observed in the course of a field trip or hike the day may be considered an unqualified success. The question is often asked, "Where should we go to see the mountain goat?" No answer could be accurate because the mountain goat wander widely over the lower slopes of the glaciers, the intervening rock cleavers, and occasionally down into the sub-alpine meadows. On two recent hikes into Van Trump Park bands have been observed on the Van Trump Glacier and the rock slops and snow fields nearby. On the first occasion forty were actually counted, and on the second occasion, Tuesday, July 3d when the band was more scattered, thirty were estimated. Nearly half the bands were kids. Several older goat were followed by twins. The young displayed typical goat-kid playfulness, skipping and sporting about on the snowfields even as domestic species play about in the meadow or pasture.

They are not easily distinguished when at rest, but when in motion they are more readily seen, even from a distance, being lighter in color than a background of rock but darker than the snow fields.

It may be possible in the future to see mountain goat from a highway when the road around the west side is completed. Men working on the bridge spanning the Puyallup River have reported large numbers between that point and the hanging glacier above.

Occasionally individuals have been seen crossing Muir Glacier below Anvil Rock and above Paradise Valley, evidently passing from the region of the Cowlitz and Whitman Glaciers toward the Nisqualy and Van Trump Glaciers.

Lem Longmire, who has spent most of his days since 1885 within the region now included in the Park states that in the early days the goat were far more numerous. By actual count, one hundred seventy were seen in the early 90's in the vicinity of the Cowlitz Divide. Two were on one occasion seen on the "saddle" near Eagle Peak which rises directly above Longmire Springs. Mount Wow, near the Nisqually Entrance to the Park was a favorite haunt of this animal and the name is derived from the Indian word for goat. In Paradise Valley, before that area was developed as a Mecca for visitors, these animals were more often seen than they now are, even in more isolated areas, and Lem states that a large band was once observed on the plateau or bench now known as Yakima Park, the newly developed area on the north-east side of the Mountain.

Lem Longmire also says that for a period of years the number of kids in a band was proportionately small but that more recently the ratio has increased. That nearly half the band recently observed was composed of kids has been mintioned. No explanation of this change is offered. The total number of goat on the Mountain is probably increasing.

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