Tracking Oreamnos americanus

 In 2010, the BLM and Alaska Department of Fish and Game began a three-year cooperative project to monitor mountain goat movements in the Haines/Skagway area using GPS radio collars. Biologists darted, captured, and released with radio collars a total of 23 adult mountain goats (13 billies and 10 nannies) between Takhin Ridge and the Nourse River valley. 

The radio collars store location data, which is collected bi-monthly by remote download over a three-year period. The telemetry data will provide information on seasonal movement patterns, habitat selection, reproductive success and survival, population abundance, and age and sex composition of mountain goats in the area. 

Alaska Fish and Game wildlife biologist Ryan Scott collars a 385-pound billy near Haines on Aug. 4, 2010.
Alaska Fish and Game wildlife biologist Ryan Scott collars a
385-pound billy near Haines on Aug. 4, 2010.
Photo by Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The data will also provide an accurate method to validate a habitat model developed in 2009 using goat monitoring data collected by the BLM from 1995 through 2005. The telemetry data and the habitat model will help the BLM refine permit stipulations for helicopter-based recreation on BLM-administered lands in the area.

Since August, GPS data shows four of the 23 collared goats have died. The State and BLM will try to recover those collars to help determine cause of the mortalities and to re-use in the study. 

— Teresa McPherson
tmcpherson@blm.gov