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Mountain Goat Identification

Introduction

Test your skills at telling male (billy) and female (nanny) mountain goats apart by taking the online Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Mountain Goat Identification Quiz. This quiz will help you avoid the accidental harvest of a female. Harvesting females can greatly reduce the overall mountain goat population, which can negatively affect hunters by causing early hunt closures and future hunting restrictions. A little time spent practicing mountain goat sex identification can go a long ways toward ensuring hunting opportunities in future years.

If you are planning to hunt in Unit 1D in Haines/Skagway, Unit 6C in Cordova, or Unit 6D in Valdez, you are required to pass the online mountain goat quiz before you obtain a permit. Your score will be e-mailed to the area biologist after you read through the materials and pass the quiz.

When mountain goat hunting... getting close and being patient are key!

Mountain Goat Characteristics

Consider all of these criteria as a checklist when identifying a goat. Go through each of them to see which ones apply to the animal you are observing. Often this will enable you to differentiate the sex of the animal reliably. Note: These characteristics are representative of adult male and female goats.

Characteristics Males Females
Body Size and Shape
  • Stocky body
  • Roman bulge to nose
  • Pronounced shoulder hump
  • Pronounced pantaloons
Mountain goat
  • Smaller body
Mountain goat
Horns
  • Thicker throughout length
  • Uniform, gradual curvature
  • Larger bases
  • Bases closer together
  • Enlarged glands behind bases
  • Base of horn is wider than the eye
Mountain goat Mountain goat
  • Thin
  • Sharp curve near the tip
  • Small bases
  • Wide distance between bases
  • Base of horn is narrower than the eye
Mountain goat Mountain goat
Group Size and Composition
  • Often solitary or groups of 2-3
  • Kids and large groups
Sexual Organs and Urination
  • Sometimes organs are visible
  • Stands stretching to urinate
Mountain goat
  • Squats, rump near ground to urinate
Mountain goat