SUNNYSLOPE — A mountain goat was spotted grazing on a lawn in Sunnyslope this week, far from where the goats usually hang out.
“It’s definitely a mountain goat, and yes, it’s very unusual,” said Dave Volsen, district wildlife biologist at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Wenatchee.
A photo of the goat in the yard of a house just off Easy Street was sent to The Wenatchee World’s Facebook page Wednesday. Karly Riker said the lone mountain goat was wandering around in her yard for about 15 minutes before heading off along the Highline Canal behind her house.
“I was really surprised,” said Riker, a stay-at-home mom. She said she saw the goat when she went outside with her young daughter at about 3 p.m. Wednesday. “I haven’t talked to anyone else who’s seen it, but I’ve got proof. I knew my husband wouldn’t believe me unless I took a picture.”
Volsen, who looked at the photo Thursday, said his office also had received a call about the sighting earlier this week.
“It’s very strange. It’s way outside of its habitat range,” Volsen said. Mountain goats are normally found at highest elevations in the Cascade Mountain Range at this time of year. The goats are plentiful in the Alpine Lakes and Glacier Peak wilderness areas. Occasionally, they’re seen on Icicle Ridge and on the high ridges behind Chelan.
But it’s very rare to see a mountain goat at low elevation, especially in summer. The animals prefer colder temperatures and are more likely to go up, rather than down, during summer heat, he said. The goat’s natural habitat at this time of year would be around 6,500 to 8,000 feet elevation and more than 30 miles west of Sunnyslope, he said.
Volsen said he received a report of a sighting of a mountain goat last year in the hills above Monitor. There were no photos or subsequent sightings to verify whether it was actually a mountain goat, he said.
“This could be the same animal that was wandering around last year. They follow the ridge tops, so maybe this one took a wrong turn. It’s hard to summise how or why it would be down here.”
Volsen said it’s not unusual to see a goat traveling alone, “but its location at this time of year is very rare and unique.”