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Transplanted Goats Doing Well in Idaho's Lemhi Mountains

March 26, 2008.

From Idaho Fish and Game:

In the Salmon Region, mountain goats range from the White Cloud Mountains to the Beaverheads.

A new group of mountain goats joined native goats last September in the Lemhi Mountains when Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists translocated 23 adults from southern Utah.

After their release in the Haynes Creek drainage, some of the mountain goats remained in the North Lemhi Mountains, while others explored the region. One yearling female headed across the Salmon River to Iron Creek in Unit 28, more than 20 miles away as the crow flies. Another female goat traveled south almost to Leadore before returning north where she now spends time in the Beaverheads.

Biologists know about these movements because 20 of the translocated goats have radio collars. The radio collars will also be used to find dead animals quickly so that cause of death can be determined and to estimate survival of this group of mountain goats.

Mountain goats are safe from most predators, but they do have to worry when they spend time away from steep cliffs. One collared goat has died in the six months since moving to Idaho. It was probably killed by a mountain lion while crossing a brushy talus slope. Juvenile mountain goats, also called kids, can be vulnerable to attacks by eagles.

As the spring weather begins to melt the snow, the mountain goats will move back up to the highest rock faces. If you are the adventurous type, look for this wintry white mammal in the Salmon Region as you climb or ride in the alpine rocks this summer.

Laura Hanson is a wildlife biologist in the Salmon Region.

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