The goat in question could not by identified by Parks Canada officials as it was not tagged
The incident, described by wildlife officials as a rare occurrence, came to light after the remains of a female grizzly bear were found at Yoho National Park, according to local reports.
A hiker spotted the bear carcass on 4 September, just metres off the Burgess Pass trail – a nearly 13km trail located near Field at Yoho National Park, newspaper Rocky Mountain Outlook Today first reported on 16 September.
A goat’s sharp horns had pierced the 70kg bear’s armpits and a spot under its neck, leading to its death, according to a forensic necropsy conducted by officials.
David Laskin, a wildlife ecologist with Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay National Park field unit, said “the necropsy determined that the female grizzly bear died of natural causes, which is due to an unsuccessful predation attempt of a mountain goat.”
The predation of mountain goats by grizzly bears is “relatively common,” he said. In this particular incident, however, “the mountain goat was successful in this instance and turned the tables on the grizzly,” he added.
The “mountain goats are big animals and those horns are very sharp,” Mr Laskin explained.
“When grizzly bears attack, they tend to focus on the head, back of the neck and the shoulders of the prey, and it’s usually from above, so in turn, the defensive response of the mountain goat would be to protect itself using its sharp horns,” Mr Laskin was quoted as saying by RMO Today.
He added that the forensic necropsy confirmed that the “wounds incurred before death were consistent with the size and shape of mountain goat horns.” Any other cause – including any human involvement – was subsequently ruled out.
Steeve Côté, a mountain goat expert and professor at Quebec’s Laval University, told RMO Today that grizzly bears can be “significant predators of mountain goats”.
“Goats can kill a bear, but this remains a rare event. All they need is a good horn jab well placed,” he said.
Officials said there was no evidence that the female grizzly bear had any cubs. It weighed only about 70 kg, while large male mountain goats can go up to 125 kg.
Parks Canada officials said they could not identify the mountain goat that killed the bear because it was not tagged.
The officials had to remove the bear carcass to prevent it from attracting other wildlife. “Carcasses attract carnivores and other wildlife that may act aggressively to protect their food source. That may pose a risk to visitors in the area,” Mr Laskin said.
In 2018, a nanny mountain goat – tagged for research purposes – was apparently killed and eaten by a grizzly bear just below the treeline near Sherbrooke Lake at Yoho National Park near its border with Banff National Park.
Yoho National Park spans about 1,300 sq km and is located in British Columbia, west of the famed Banff National Park.
The news story has attracted a large number of reactions on social media. One user said: “Holy cow, that’s some nature is metal type stuff.” Another said: “I didn’t realise mountain goats were strong enough to do that.”