WELD-01-040

Pinto Creek Goat Study - 1997
Sponsor: 
Weldwood of Canada Ltd.
Lead Researcher: 
D. Harrison and M. Gillingham, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia
Body: 
This study took place in the Pinto Creek area of Weldwood’s Forest Management Agreement (FMA) 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 because of their constant use of forested habitats. Mountain goats have continuously occupied the Pinto Creek area at population sizes between eight and 27 animals since 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 objectives were to determine seasonal distribution, movement patterns and habitat use of mountain goats in the Pinto Creek study area, determine the biological, physical, and spatial parameters that explain selective use of cliffs, and determine if the Pinto Creek mountain goats are an isolated population.

Work was completed between summer 1996 and fall 1997. Direct and indirect observations were used to determine seasonal distribution, movement patterns and habitat use by Pinto Creek goats. Direct observation methods included visual sightings of goats. Indirect methods included use of remote sensing cameras, winter track counts, pellet plots, and location of shed goat hair, tracks, and goat pellets. To explain selective use of cliffs by goats in the study area, researchers collected the biological and physical data of each cliff. Collection of DNA samples within the study area and Jasper National Park were sent for DNA analysis.

Population estimates for summer 1996, winter 1997 and summer 1997 were 27, 18 and 23, respectively. Goats were observed within all cliff complexes, although use varied, primarily by season. There was no apparent pattern of winter goat distribution based on track survey data. Work continues towards determining whether the Pinto Creek goats are an isolated population.