A mountain goat is believed to be responsible for the death of a bear that fell near a trail in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park earlier this month.
David Laskin, a wildlife ecologist at Parks Canada, says an autopsy found lesions corresponding to the size and shape of mountain goat horns, one each under the female bear’s armpit and one on the side of its neck.
He says other causes of death were ruled out, including human involvement.
Laskin says it’s common for grizzlies to hunt mountain goats, along with a tendency to attack from above, and it’s not uncommon for a bear to be injured in a melee.
But he says it is “extremely rare” for a bear to be fatally injured by a goat.
Laskin says the adult bear was small in size, between the populations of 25 to 30 grizzlies in Yoho and Kootenay National Parks, but it was not unusually small.
“It was quite interesting and it’s not something we usually encounter,” Laskin said in an interview. “This is still a loss of female grizzly bears in their breeding prime, although our grizzly bear population is still healthy and stable in the park.”
The bear was an adult, but the autopsy showed no indication that it had ever had cubs.
Laskin says the bear’s hunting experience is difficult to assess, but its small size may have played a role in the fatal attack.
The bear weighed about 68 kilograms. A dominant male mountain goat has about twice the average weight.