Have you ever gone rock climbing, hiked on the side of a mountain, or scaled a steep hill just for fun? What if you had to do that with hooves instead of your hands and feet?
Amazingly, there’s an animal that is not only able to do that, but is an expert at it. Mountain goats, related to antelopes, are the ultimate cliff climbers — and are perfectly suited for mountain life.
Like any rock climber, they need to get a good grip with their hooves to accomplish this. Their hooves have two wide-spread toes that improve balance like a snowshoe, and rough, spongy toe pads provide a good grip on smooth surfaces. Hair grows between the toes for even better traction. Their specialized hooves allow them to climb extremely steep and jagged surfaces.
• Maintain a distance of at least 50 yards from mountain goats; instead of getting closer for a view or photograph, use binoculars and a telephoto camera lens.
• Never offer food to mountain goats or any other wildlife.
• Never urinate within 50 yards of a hiking trail; the salt and minerals in bodily fluids can attract mountain goats.
• Leave pets at home when hiking in mountain goat habitat.
• Do not touch, surround, crowd or chase a mountain goat.
• Do not allow a mountain goat to approach too closely; yell with a loud voice, wave your arms or an article of clothing, and if need be, throw rocks at the goat.
• Avoid hiking alone in areas where mountain goats are habituated to people; in the case of an attack, hiking partners may be able to help.