See the series at vimeo.com/channels/34719
Original soundtrack by Matt Abeysekera.
I selected this spot to visit in particular in hopes of seeing mountain goat. We were not disappointed. One surprise however was that my first shot of mountain goats turned out to be big horn sheep (first shot after opening). It was not till reviewing my footage several days later that I realized these were big horn ewes and not scraggly shedding mountain goats as I had first thought.
Reading about these two species after filming this I discovered an interesting sub plot. The goat is allegedly displacing the sheep. It's a more aggressive species and is thought to perhaps carry disease that the sheep are susceptible to. The Bighorn have declined by about 10% over the last ten years and the Goat's territory has expanded (although wildlife officials are attempting to keep it in check).
Mount Evans is a mountain in the Front Range region of the Rocky Mountains, in Clear Creek County, Colorado. It is one of 54 fourteeners (mountains with peaks over 14,000 feet (4,300 m)) in Colorado, and the closest fourteener to Denver. It is often compared to Pikes Peak - another Front Range fourteener - which it exceeds in elevation by 154 ft (50 m).
The peak is one of the characteristic Front Range peaks, dominating the western skyline of the Great Plains along with Pikes Peak, Longs Peak, and nearby Mount Bierstadt. Mount Evans can be seen from over 100 miles away to the east, and many miles in other directions. Mount Evans dominates the Denver Metropolitan Area skyline and can be seen from points south of Castle Rock, up to (65 miles (105 km) south) and as far north as Fort Collins (95 miles (153 km) north), and points east of Strasburg (105 miles (169 km) east). In the early days of Colorado tourism, Mount Evans and Denver were often in competition with Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs.
Bighorn Sheep–Named for the large, curved horns borne by the rams (males). Ewes (females) also have horns, but they are shorter with less curvature. They range in color from light brown to grayish or dark, chocolate brown, with a white rump and lining on the back of all four legs. Males typically weigh 127–316 pounds (58–143 kg), are 36–41 inches (91–100 cm) tall at the shoulder, and 69–79 inches (180–200 cm) long from the nose to the tail. Females are typically 75–188 pounds (34–85 kg), 30–36 inches (76–91 cm) tall and 54–67 inches (140–170 cm) long. Male bighorn sheep have large horn cores, enlarged cornual and frontal sinuses and internal bony septa. These adaptations serve to protect the brain by absorbing the impact of clashes. Bighorn sheep have pre-orbital glands on the anterior corner of each eye, inguinal glands in the groin and pedal glands on each foot. Secretions from these glands may support dominance behaviors.
Bighorns from the Rocky Mountains are relatively large, with males that occasionally exceed 500 lb (230 kg) and females that exceed 200 lb (90 kg). In contrast, Sierra Nevada Bighorn males weigh up to only 200 lb (90 kg) and females to 140 lb (60 kg). Males' horns can weigh up to 30 lb (14 kg), as much as the rest of the bones in the male's body.
Mountain Goat–Both male and female mountain goats have beards, short tails, and long black horns, 15–28 cm in length, which contain yearly growth rings. They are protected from the elements by their woolly white double coats. The fine, dense wool of their undercoats is covered by an outer layer of longer, hollow hairs. In spring, mountain goats moult by rubbing against rocks and trees, with the adult billies (males) shedding their extra wool first and the pregnant nannies (females) shedding last. In the winter, their coats help them to withstand temperatures as low as −50 °F (−46 °C) and winds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h).
A billy stands about three feet (1 m) at the shoulder to the waist. Male goats also have longer horns and a longer beard than nannies. Mountain goats typically weigh between 100 and 300 lbs (45–136 kg); females are usually 10-30% lighter than males.
Nannies can be very competitive and protective of their space and food sources. They will fight with one another for dominance in conflicts that can ultimately include all the nannies in the herd. In these battles, nannies will circle each other with their heads lowered, showing off their horns. As with fights between billies during breeding season, these conflicts can occasionally lead to injury or even death, but they are largely harmless. To avoid fighting, an animal may show a posture of non-aggression by stretching low to the ground.
In lower regions below the tree line, nannies also use their fighting abilities to protect themselves and their offspring from predators, such as wolves, wolverines, cougars, lynx and bears. Even though their size protects them from most potential predators in higher altitudes, nannies still must defend their young from golden eagles, which can be a threat to very young kids. Nannies have even been observed trying to dominate the more passive bighorn sheep that share some of their territory.
Mountain goats can occasionally be aggressive towards humans, with at least one reported fatality resulting from an attack by a mountain goat.
The mountain goat's feet are well-suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes, sometimes with pitches of 60 degrees or more, with inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can be spread apart as needed. Also, the tips of their feet have dewclaws that are sharp to keep them from slipping.
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