State wildlife officials, with help from Safari Club International (SCI), recently moved 15 mountain goats to the Rocky Mountain Front.
The move was the second and final year to release mountain goats on Ear Mountain Wildlife Management Area. Last year Fish, Wildlife and Parks released 10 goats in the same area.
“We wanted to augment the population there,” says Brent Lonner, Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist. “The country is good goat habitat and the population, which was low, needed a boost.”
This year’s animals came from the Crazy Mountains, in central Montana, where the population is over objective. Last year’s transplant came from Round Butte east of the Highwoods.
The Great Falls chapter of SCI helped defray costs both years, contributing $8,500 last year and $10,000 this year, says Brad Lencioni, chapter president.
“One of our goals for the last several years was to get goats transplanted,” Lencioni says. “With contributions from our members and local businesses we were able to help.”
The local SCI chapter is eight years old and has about 155 members, Lencioni says, adding the club has also bought equipment for Eagle Mount, which assists the disabled; contributed to FWP’s hunter education program, and funded three $1,000 scholarships.
“We fight for hunters’ rights first,” Lencioni says.
This year’s goats came in two groups: seven on Jan. 10 and eight on Jan. 15. The animals consisted of 12 female nannies, two male billies and one male kid.
The animals were moved to mountain goat hunting district 442, where one license was available last year.
The mountain goat is a native Montana big game animal that occurred historically in major mountain ranges of western Montana but has been transplanted to suitable habitat in isolated mountain ranges throughout the state.
They have a white coat with black horns and hooves. Both sexes have horns, which are smooth, sharp and curve slightly backwards and measure 8-10 inches long.
Billies may weigh as much as 300 pounds, nannies about 150 pounds.
As their name implies, mountain goats generally live above timberline in precipitous terrain, eating grasses, sedges, lichens, forbs and shrubs.Mountain goat hunting in Montana is by permit only.