There are few creatures on Earth who wouldn’t tremble at the sight of a grizzly bear on the hunt. It’s one of Canada’s most ferocious predators. But it appears that one courageous mountain goat stood its ground in B.C.’s Yoho National Park.
On September 4, a hiker reported the body of a dead grizzly bear near Burgess Pass. Parks Canada staff responded by airlifting the bear’s body from the area to prevent the attraction of other predators.
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A forensic necropsy was then performed on the bear. The necropsy revealed that the bear was female, had never born cubs, and weighed 154 pounds—small for a grizzly bear. As for the cause of death, examiners found fatal wounds at the bottom of the bear’s neck and armpits, consistent with the predatory attack behaviour of grizzlies and the defensive response of mountain goats. Plus, the wounds were the exact size and shape of a mountain goat’s horns.
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“When grizzly bears attack, they tend to focus on the head, neck and shoulders of the prey, usually from above. In turn, the defensive response of mountain goats would be to protect themselves using their sharp horns,” said Parks Canada representative Alison Biles, in an email.
Mountain goats are common prey for grizzlies, and staff had noticed significant goat activity near Burgess Pass on that day. While this incident is rare, Biles said it’s not the first time a mountain goat has killed a bear in self-defense.
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“Mountain goats are strong animals that are well-equipped to defend themselves,” she said. In fact, large, male mountain goats can weigh nearly 300 pounds—putting a 154-pound grizzly out of its depth.
If visitors do encounter a dead animal in one of Canada’s National Parks, Biles stresses that the visitor should leave the area immediately and report the location to Parks Canada staff. “Carcasses attract carnivores and other wildlife that may act aggressively to protect it as a food source,” she said.