‘Badasses Of The Mountains’: Goats Clash With Sheep As Key Glaciers Melt

"Climate crisis may explain fights as disappearing ice fuels interspecies competition – with goats nearly always winning".

"In one corner, there is the agile climber with steak knife-like horns. In the other is America’s largest wild sheep. They are locked in significantly one-sided combat in the mountains of the US west, scientists have found, in a battle over resources uncovered by the region’s vanishing glaciers.

In study sites across a 1,500-mile span of the Rocky Mountains, scientists have documented mountain goats and bighorn sheep competing over mineral deposits among the rocks, at elevations of up to 14,000ft.

These contests, never previously outlined in detail, show that two of the US’s heftiest native mammals are involved in a struggle that may be influenced by the climate crisis, as the mountains’ snow and ice rapidly dwindles. Conflict between such species “may be reflective of climate degradation coupled with the changing nature of coveted resources”, the new study states.

Joel Berger, lead author of the research and senior scientist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and Colorado State University, said he was “flabbergasted” to see the number of skirmishes between the two ungulate species, with the mountain goats appearing to have the upper hand, or hoof. Of the observed battles, the goats triumphed 98% of the time, clearly making them the superior mountain brawler."

Oliver Milman reports for the Guardian October 17, 2022.

Source: Guardian, 10/18/2022