Secret life of goats
Using GPS radio-collars to monitor Mountain Goat movements
Although Mountain Goats are common in Yoho National Park, they can be tough to spot - even for Parks Canada staff! They prefer to hang out in some of the park’s steepest terrain, away from prying eyes. They are also sensitive to human disturbance. When we need detailed information to help us manage human use in goat habitat, we follow them virtually using radio-collars.
In 2017, our specialists radio-collared 20 mountain goats in Yoho and Banff national parks. The GPS-equipped collars show us when and where these animals move. Aerial surveys, habitat maps and wildlife camera images help round out the picture of how they use their habitat.
We are using this data to assess how goats are affected by visitors and facilities. It will help guide projects such as the Trans-Canada Highway twinning in Yoho National Park and the Lake Louise ski hill site guidelines in Banff National Park.
In the summer of 2018, wildlife cameras recorded the first use of a wildlife crossing structure by Mountain Goats in a Canadian national park. The photos captured them walking through a new underpass and standing on top of Yoho’s first overpass.
Just how sensitive are Mountain Goats to human disturbance? Their poop might hold the answer. A pilot project is underway to use new technology to analyze goat pellets - aka poop - for stress hormones. We’ll compare pellets gathered both near and far from human activity.