Beautiful and agile, Mountain Goats once leaped and bounded along the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge. The goats are easily identified by their thick bodies, brilliant white fur and black horns. The design of their hooves includes a hard outer shell and a soft inner pad. This rubber-like pad allows the goat to grip the rugged terrain. The density and color of their fur helps them stay warm while blending into their snowy surroundings and avoiding predators. During the winter, the goats form large herds and confine themselves to more protected areas of their habitat. When the weather grows warmer, however, they will break into smaller groups and roam widely in search of food.
These goats typically live at very high altitudes, sometimes in excess of 13,000 feet (4000 m). Although they will migrate throughout the year, it is rare for them to go below the tree-line. Today, Mountain Goats can be found in limited areas of Idaho, Montana, Washington, British Columbia and Alberta.
Mountain Goats disappeared from Oregon in the nineteenth century due to a combination of factors, including over-hunting, climate change and severe weather conditions. In 2010, however, the first population of goats was reintroduced by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in cooperation with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. The new population is confined to Upper Whitewater River at the base of Mt. Jefferson.