A mountain goat is believed to be responsible for the death of a grizzly bear found slumped near a trail in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park earlier this month.
David Laskin, a wildlife ecologist with Parks Canada, says a necropsy on the carcass found wounds consistent with the size and shape of mountain goat horns, with one under each of the female bear’s armpits and one on the side of its neck.
He says other causes of death were ruled out, including human involvement.
Dr. Laskin says it’s common for grizzlies to prey on mountain goats, with a tendency to attack from above, and it’s not unusual that a bear might be injured in the scuffle.
But he says a goat fatally wounding a bear is “exceedingly rare.”
The adult bear was relatively small among the population of 25 to 30 grizzlies in Yoho and Kootenay national parks, Dr. Laskin says, but it was not unusually small.
“It was quite interesting and it’s not something we normally encounter,” he said in an interview. “It’s still a loss of a female grizzly bear in her reproductive prime, however our grizzly bear populations are still healthy and stable in the park.”
The bear was an adult but the necropsy showed no signs she had ever had cubs.
Dr. Laskin says it’s hard to gauge the bear’s hunting experience, but her smaller size may have played a role in the fatal attack.
The bear weighed about 68 kilograms. The average weight for a prime male mountain goat is about double that.
We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.