The Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance (RMGA) is incredibly grateful for the contributions made by the Abbotsford Fish and Game Club (Abbotsford F&G). The $6,000 USD generously provided by Abbotsford F&G will be used to help cover partial costs of GPS tracking collars on mountain goats in the West Kootenays. The collars will play an important role in obtaining vital information with regards to how mountain goats are interacting with the landscape in the West Kootenays where there is a significant knowledge gap.

These collars will help to fill significant mountain goat knowledge gaps by being deployed into several study areas across the West Kootenay region. These collars will also provide information on winter habitat selection, critical kidding areas, mortality rates/causes, and important mineral lick locations. There will be thirty GPS collars deployed onto mountain goats (mainly nannies) in four different study areas across the West Kootenay region. The goal is to maintain a sample of thirty active GPS collars for three winter seasons. In addition, since November 2020 there have been five GPS collars deployed into Valhalla Provincial Park and six GPS collars deployed in, and around Mount Revelstoke National Park. The Abbotsford F&G’s contribution will aid RMGA in purchasing seven additional collars for this project. The information once paired with other existing projects, will help develop a spatially extensive dataset through the deployment of these additional collars across the region. This data will provide critical insights into mountain goat movement patterns, habitat selection, and survival rates.

The Kootenay region supports approximately twenty percent of the provincial mountain goat population. Efforts are currently underway to create the designation of mountain goat ungulate winter range (UWR) within the East Kootenay region. This work used a combination of existing data collected from GPS collars on mountain goats and observations from winter surveys to model mountain goat resource selection in the winter period across three separate study areas in the East Kootenays. These efforts were restricted to the East Kootenay region as a result of significant limitations in data availability for mountain goats in the West Kootenays.

Mountain goat populations in the West Kootenays occur at lower densities than other parts of the region. In large part, this is a result of reduced wintering habitat quantity, and quality. The condition and availability of wintering habitat is believed to be a critical limiting factor in the West Kootenay mountain goat populations abundance and distribution. These low-density populations are believed to be experiencing declines, but the precise drivers of decline are unknown. Factors influencing population declines may include habitat loss, reduced physical condition from increased disturbance, increased predation rates, or displacement from critical mineral licks. There are currently very few sources of information on any of these factors. This potential for population decline, coupled with the scarcity of suitable wintering habitat, further elevates the importance of improving our understanding of these vulnerable populations, their habitat requirements, and their population drivers. The Abbotsford F&G Clubs contribution is directly improving our knowledge base.

Project Objectives:

  1. Deploy and maintain thirty GPS collars on mountain goats in four West Kootenay study areas for three years.
  2. Estimate mountain goat winter habitat selection behaviour and identify areas likely to be high-value wintering range, kidding habitat, and mineral licks.
  3. Improve understanding of natural mortality rates

Project Outcomes:

  1. Designation of identified high-value polygons as mountain goat Ungulate Winter Range
  2. Estimate of mountain goat survival rates across the West Kootenays

The RMGA, and its members couldn’t be happier with the support we have received from Abbotsford F&G. The dedication of Abbotsford F&G’s members towards conservation is simply terrific to see. To commit over $6,000 USD towards the purchase of collars in the West Kootenay’s, Abbotsford F&G members are making a direct impact to helping overcome the overwhelming knowledge gap that exists for mountain goats in the West Kootenay’s. Correcting this knowledge gap will aid regional biologists in their understanding of mountain goats in the area, and provide critical information to make better science-based management decisions for mountain goats. The RMGA is proud to have the Abbotsford F&G Club as a project funding partner.

Sincerely on behalf of the RMGA,
Michael Surbey, Director