Bears are true apex predators, preying upon basically anything they want. If you mess with the mountain goats, however, sometimes you get the horns, as an unfortunate grizzly bear learned earlier this month.
I’m a huge fan of so-called prey animals, as they’ve evolved all sorts of tricks to avoid the dinner plate. At the same time, I’m not so fond of bears—the largest terrestrial carnivores on Earth. They legit scare the crap out of me, and rightly so, given their tremendous size and ferocity. So imagine my amusement, if that’s the right word, upon hearing that a grizzly bear was killed by a mountain goat in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park.
On September 4, a hiker contacted Parks Canada after stumbling upon the deceased bear near Burgess Pass in the Canadian Rockies. Parks Canada quickly removed the carcass for fear it might attract wildlife to the area, which is frequented by tourists.
An ensuing post-mortem showed that the “female grizzly bear died of natural causes which were due to a mountain goat,” according to an emailed statement from Parks Canada. The bear had been gored by a mountain goat, with fatal wounds to its neck and armpits. The location of these injuries, said Parks Canada, “were consistent with the predatory attack behaviour of grizzly bears and the defensive response of mountain goats.”
Indeed, grizzlies tend to go for the head, shoulders, and neck of their prey. At the same time, mountain goats have both the will and the means to defend themselves, using their sharp horns to fend off attackers. Results of the post-mortem confirmed that the wounds happened before the bear’s death and that the size and shape of the puncture wounds matched the horns of a mountain goat. Parks Canada said it was able to rule out human involvement and other possible causes.
The female grizzly bear weighed about 154 pounds (70 kg), which is a bit small for bears and approximately the same weight as an adult mountain goat. Speaking to CBC’s Radio West, David Laskin, a wildlife ecologist with Parks Canada, said the size of the bear may have had something to do with the lost battle, as the CBC reports. The post-mortem suggests the bear never reared any cubs, which is at least some good news.
Grizzly bear attacks on mountain goats are actually quite common. A video taken in 2018 near Mount Bosworth, also in British Columbia, shows a mountain goat, along with her kid, seeking refuge on a cliff during an unsuccessful bear attack. You can see the 2018 video below: