SAMUEL: Adventure shows a rare encounter between mountain goat and grizzly


A recent post in a wildlife journal notes that a hiker in the Yoho National Park in British Columbia found a dead grizzly bear and a necropsy revealed the bear was killed by a mountain goat.

 They note that such an encounter is rare, and further research proved to me it is very rare.

I’ve mentioned before that bowhunting has given me some great adventures and taken me to some far off places. In August of 2006 I ventured to Atlin, British Columbia to bowhunt for mountain goats.

 These critters live in high mountains and often in very steep, inaccessible (by man) areas. Yes, such a bowhunt can be dangerous and one should not wait until they are 66 years of age to attempt it. However, I couldn’t afford that hunt when younger so you just do what it takes to fulfill your dreams.

I booked a 12-day bowhunt because I knew I couldn’t climb those steep mountains every day. I figured I’d hunt one day and recuperate the next, however, the goats had other plans. I hiked up the mountain six hours the first day and harvested a dandy mountain goat. First day. I was thrilled.

My guide and I were staying in a remote trapper’s cabin on a large lake. We spent the next day caping out the skull, fishing, and resting around the cabin. During the late afternoon I set up a spotting scope and found a grizzly and tow cubs on a far mountain.

 The guide did the same and soon we were watching something few people have ever seen. This sow grizzly started up a trail several hundred yards behind two big mountain billies and food was on her mind. She left her yearlings feeding in a blueberry patch.

One billy took off over the ridge, but the larger one seemed relatively unconcerned as the grizzly closed the gap. Finally the goat jumped up on a big flat rock and the grizzly circled him several times.

 Then the bear jumped up on the opposite end of that rock and the two faced each other. My guide was going crazy, noting that in all his years he’d never seen such a thing. Obviously this old West Virginia boy hadn’t either.

Then the billy actually charged the sow at close range, and appeared to butt her with his horns. Billy goats have two 7-10 spike-like horns they use to fight for the females during breeding season.

 They obviously use them to fight predators, as well. The sow quickly jumped off the rock and slowly returned to her yearlings and was later seen eating berries with them.

As I mentioned, when I got home I did some research on this kind of encounter. It seems that rarely the goat kills the bear and more often the bear kills the goat. My guide was 60 years old and guided in British Columbia for mountain goats for 40 years and had never seen such an encounter and never found dead animals indicating such an encounter.

But they obviously happened and we just happened to be there with spotting scopes. Just another part of this hunt that made it one of my best adventures.

Dr. Samuel is a retired wildlife professor from West Virginia University. His outdoor columns have appeared, and continue to appear, in Bowhunter magazine and the Whitetail Journal. If you have questions or comments on wildlife and conservation issues, email him at