The Joy of Mountain Goat Viewing in the Uinta Mountains

Anyone who has hiked Mount Timpanogos has likely seen (and been stared down) by a mountain goat somewhere along the trail. I didn’t know this was a normal occurrence when I did this hike for the first time in August 2018.  Coming around a bend in the trail, I peered between tree branches, tall grasses and scraggly bushes into a shallow gully and saw snowy white haunches and a nub-tail.  My brain interpreted this sight as “polar bear butt”.  Mightily confused, I stopped questioning my sanity when the grazing beast turned broad side. Goat. Definitely a goat. I counted at least five other goats before we made our way back to the car in the late afternoon. Along the way, we spotted the polar bear-goat napping on a narrow ledge not far from where it’d been feeding earlier.

mtn_goat_1.JPGAccording to 2017 estimates by Department of Wildlife Resources, there are around 1, 000 mountain goats across the Uinta Mountains. The Uinta range, supporting Utah’s largest mountain goat herd, is the largest contiguous block of habitat in the state.

Each spring the Department of Wildlife Resources hosts viewing events so that the public may have the opportunity to glass these creatures with equipment and professionals they otherwise may not have access to. This year, the primary viewing area happened to be a Park’ n Ride at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. This area is a gateway to several trail heads as well as the Snowbird and Alta ski areas.

Unfortunately, Davin Amundsen (also a BHA member) and I missed the wildlife biologists leading the viewing.  However, we came prepared. Using our spotter, Phone Skope adapter and a tip from a kind individual, we were able to observe a couple of nannies and a kid. We soon became the “goat people”.  A college aged man bounded across the parking lot after asking if we were looking at goats – he’d never seen them before.  A family with two elementary aged children oohed at the fuzzy, knob-kneed baby goat. Later an elderly couple parked next to us. The man had come the previous day and talked his uncertain wife into coming along this time. Although she could only stand, resting on her cane, for a few minutes before needing assistance back to the car, she appreciated and shared in her husband’s excitement to see these animals move about in the distance.

mtn_goat_2.JPGHelp someone have access to the wildlife we love. I encourage YOU to share your resources and mentor someone in the careful and correct use of the equipment necessary for your outdoor pursuits! To get involved with the Utah Chapter and our hunter recruitment efforts email utah@backcountryhunters.org.

  

About Ashley Amundsen

Northern Region Board - Utah

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