The overseer

We’re privileged in Áak’w & T’aakú Aaní to live in almost constant proximity to Jánwu, Oreamnus americanus. Not only that; we can usually locate and watch them. Unlike other large wildlife, who strive for cryptic behavior and coloration, Jánwu adopts an anti-camouflage lifeway. Instead of running or hiding, she just climbs to the nearest overlook, too airy for wolf or bruin to follow.

Billy Onehorn is a 9-year-old, one of 4 missing-horn goats we’ve been following on their winter range, low above J-town. The others are females who lost leftside horns: Nanny Onehorn, Nanny Nohorn, and Pencilhorn, who also lost both but regrew a really slender one on the right.

If you’re in Jánwu’s viewshed, she’s obviously in yours. Only Yáay, humpback whale, is more reliably available to researchers, educators, tourists, and CBJ outdoorsfolk. And while Yáay-watch usually involves boats and gas-consumption, Jánwu poses for anyone with proper optics and footgear.

Southeast ridgewalkers often have close encounters with Jánwu. But even from sea level we can follow their activities. Summertime hikers in upper Áak’w Táak, inland from little lake (Mendenhall Valley) or Dzantik’i Héeni (Gold Creek) Basin are well advised to pack binoculars. Sweep the alpine and subalpine ridges, looking for little ivory dots, perceptibly yellower than lingering snow patches. Better yet, with tripod-mounted scope, you can easily distinguish adults from kids and yearlings out to about a mile, and at closer range make a guess at subtler differences between males and females.

By their second autumn, 1.5-year mountain goats’ horns are slightly longer than their ~4-inch ears. Yearling’s faces are still short and ‘cute’ compared to horse-like muzzles of adults like Billy Onehorn. At this stage, it’s difficult to distinguish male from female horn shape.

Alaska Dept of Fish and Game’s website has an outstanding section on age/gender identification. It’s aimed at hunters, in an effort to reduce percentage of females killed. But becoming proficient at goat ID enhances anyone’s appreciation of goat culture and ecology. I recommend perusing the ID pages, then taking the 25-question quiz.

Research on Oreamnos has mostly focused on drier, interior mountains. Seasonal movements of our wet-range coastal populations are quite different. Instead of wintering on high, windswept ridges where grasses and alpine forbs remain available, coastal goats typically descend, sometimes nearly to sea level. An intensive telemetry study by Kevin White and colleagues, spanning 2005-2012, was designed to assess impacts of a proposed Juneau Access road, but hugely enhanced our understanding of nearly all aspects of coastal-Jánwu morphology, life history, habitat selection, and even genetics. I’ve relied heavily on their findings since beginning intensive  goat studies in October, 2020.

Kevin gave a great talk on F&G’s goat research in Feb 2019, archived on Juneau Audubon’s facebook page. It’s not only a great way to learn about goats and their habitat; it’s a fun way to remember that we all used to sit around in big rooms together. :)

PS, Sept 2021: Coming up on a full year of near-daily Jánwu-watching,  JuneauNature>NATURE>critters>mammals>hooved>mountaingoat has become probably best-populated of any corner of the website. Scroll through In this section, below, for links to downloads and slideshows on Lingít Aaní’s Overseer.

In this section

Goatlandia: early winter 2023

Motioncam at 600 feet In mid-December, 2022, 9 of us Discovery naturalists bushwhacked up into mountain goat winter range to…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 3 minute slideshow

Happy goat-year, 2023!

A calendar for mountain goats, naturally! Best wishes for the new year, to Discovery members and Jánwu lovers everywhere! Our…

Draft goat calendar 2023

Jánwu’s year in Áak’w Aaní; digital version Within a few months of beginning our mountain goat study in October, 2020.…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 28 pages

Escape to ‘beautiful face’

Outdoors with teachers Yadaa.at Kalé means beautifully adorned face, of slopes rising northeast from the highschool named for them (JDH).…

Spring avalanches

Snowslides and critters Last year around this time I posted video and thoughts about the relationship of critters to avalanches—both…

Downhill disturbance

Avalanche and wildlife It’s hard to think long about mountain goats—especially here on the precipitous coast—without wondering how they deal…

2022 | Richard Carstensen | 3 minute slideshow

Avalanche mapping

Releases in Nettleslide (Behrends path) & Last Chance Goatwatching in winter leads inevitably to fascination with avalanches. Yesterday, Feb 12,…

2022 | Richard Carstensen |

Happy ‘goating’ in 2022!

Wrapping up the 2021 Jánwu journal January 1st, 2022:  Most radio commentators appear quite ready to bid good riddance to…

Autumn Goatlandia

Rainforest rut Last fall I described elements of rutting season in mountain goats, but did not attempt a comprehensive review.…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 9 minute slideshow

Cusp of summer and fall

Insights from tele-views of Jánwu What an amazing place we live in! From afar, scoping in valley bottom, or up…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 7 minute slideshow

Stereogoatlandia

3D perspectives on Janwú’s home My mountain goat observations dating back to 2015 fill 3 enormous journals. During that time…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 15 pages of excerpts

Dust-bath grouse&goats

Hooters & janwú at 80 degrees On an afternoon hike to Granite Basin, got another chance to test the new…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 90 second slideshow

Mid-summer ‘goating’ through a new lens

First tests of Nikon P1000 On July 18th, 2021 Steve Merli, Cathy Pohl and I climbed Shaa Tlaax, moldy top…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 7 minute slideshow

Goatfilming with ‘interplanetary’ zoom

Goatwatcher’s quest for the perfect camera JuneauNature is not a product-review website, but I’ll make an exception, of sorts, for…

Teachers’ outings, 2021

Year-3: Estuaries & steep places Two kinds of landforms & habitats have consumed my attention this winter and spring—estuaries and…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 60 page journal & course manual

Finishing the winter-range story

Mid-May, 2021 Mountain goats are leaving the forested cliffs where they took refuge through much of the winter, and moving…

Final month on goat winter range

Follow-up to the 108-days show Back in April, 2021, Steve Merli and I posted a 12-minute slideshow called 108 days…

2021 | Richard Carstensen & Steve Merli | 9-minute slideshow

First post from refashioned blog

20210507 Slumbering blog awakens Greetings, Southeast Alaskans. As you might note from the last dated post, this is my first…

108 days on mountain goat winter range

Motion-detector camera at 1,200 feet On December 12th, 2020, Steve Merli and I placed a game-cam in mountain goat winter…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 12-minute slideshow

Dzisk’w liu kaadi: little owl snowslide

Avalanches in Goatlandia Yesterday (20210304), avalanches were triggered above the Thane Road runout on Snowslide Creek. Several folks posted impressive…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 80-second slideshow