|Sponsor:||Weldwood of Canada Ltd.|
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 8 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.
Work was completed between summer 1996 and fall 1998. Direct and indirect observations were used to determine seasonal distribution, movement patterns and habitat use of 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. Collection of DNA samples within the study area and Jasper National Park were sent for DNA analysis.
During the winter, researchers found goat signs in forests up to 410m from the cliffs. The presence of goats in forests indicates the potential for conflict between logging activities and mountain goat movements along the Pinto Creek canyon. Data indicates that the Pinto Creek goat herd is likely part of a larger or at least more wide-ranging population. Initial DNA analysis confirms the Pinto Creek population of mountain goats appears to be a unique population compared to other populations of mountain goats. Confirming that the Pinto Creek mountain goats are an isolated population is not possible without GPS tracking of male and female goats in the Pinto Creek goat population.