Every once in a while, something totally crazy and completely unexpected goes down out there in the wild world of nature.
This is one of those things. The story is a shocking twist on how interactions between the grizzly bears and mountain goats are usually scripted.
A grizzly bear was recently found dead in Canada’s Yoho National Park, and when wildlife officials examined the carcass to determine the cause of death, they were shocked to find out that the bear was apparently taken out by a mountain goat, a species the bears are typically known to prey upon.
According to Rocky Mountains Outlook, a forensic necropsy was performed on the relatively small bear, and it was concluded the bear was killed by fatal blows to the armpits and neck by the sharp horns of a mountain goat.
“The necropsy determined that the female grizzly bear died of natural causes, which is due to an unsuccessful predation attempt of a mountain goat.
Grizzly bear predation of mountain goats is relatively common, and I guess the mountain goat was successful in this instance and turned the tables on the grizzly. These mountain goats are big animals, and those horns are very sharp.”
The bear carcass was discovered by a hiker not far off the trail. At the time, the cause of the bear’s death could not be conclusively identified; however, there was speculation that the bear could have been gored, considering the number of mountain goats in the area. That speculation was confirmed by additional testing.
The location of the bear’s wounds were consistent with the attack behavior of grizzles and defensive responses of mountain goats.
“When grizzly bears attack, they tend to focus on the head, back of the neck, and the shoulders of the prey, and it’s usually from above, so in turn, the defensive response of the mountain goat would be to protect itself using its sharp horns.
The forensic necropsy subsequently confirmed that the wounds incurred before death were consistent with the size and shape of mountain goat horns, so other causes, including human involvement, were ruled out.”
Grizzly bears are known to prey on mountain goats throughout regions where their ranges overlap, and in some areas, bears are the primary predator of goats.
While bears taking down goats is not rare, goats taking down bears is quite rare. The goat’s attempts at defending itself were likely aided by the bear’s relatively small and in poor body condition.
The bear only weighed about 155-pounds while large male mountain goats can tip the scales at as much as 275-pounds.
“Grizzly bear predation of mountain goats is relatively common, and I guess the mountain goat was successful in this instance and turned the tables on the grizzly. These mountain goats are big animals, and their horns are very sharp.
Goats can kill a bear, but this remains a rare event,” he said. “All they need is a good horn jab well placed.”
While goats can defend themselves from bear attacks with their horns, escaping to steep rocky precipices that bears cannot traverse remains the preferred defense mechanism.
A few years ago, footage of a grizzly unsuccessfully trying to hunt a mountain goat nanny, and her kids on the side of a steep cliff generated a buzz online.