WELD-01-024

Pinto Creek Goat Study
Sponsor: 
Weldwood of Canada Ltd.
Lead Researcher: 
Donna Harrison and Janis Hooge, Prince George, British Columbia
Body: 
The study took place in the Weldwood Forest Management Agreement (FMA) area, in the Pinto Creek area, 60 km northwest of Hinton. The Pinto Creek mountain goats are the only known canyon-dwelling goat herd in Alberta. The herd is considered atypical of goat populations due to their constant use of forested habitats. Mountain goats have continuously occupied the Pinto Creek area at population sizes between eight and 27 animals since the earliest records in 1942. The known range of this herd includes approximately 17 km of canyon habitat along Pinto Creek and surrounding area. The goats use a series of cliffs that are connected by trails through forested areas.

The study objective was to determine seasonal distribution, movement patterns and habitat use of mountain goats in the Pinto Creek study area, as well as determine the biological, physical, and spatial parameters that explain selective use of cliffs, and determine the number and sex distribution of the herd and the extent of genetic isolation of the Pinto Creek goat population.

The field component of the study was completed between May 17 and August 18, 1996. Ground and aerial surveys were used to estimate present population and population structure. Observations of goat sign (ie. pellets, tracks, shed goat hair, remote camera pictures) indicated use of habitat.

A minimum population estimate of 27 goats was obtained. The population structure consisted of seven kids, three yearlings, four sub-adults, eight nannies, four billies and one unclassified. Field observations indicated that use of cliff units and forested habitat is greater and more widespread than previously predicted.