A goat on the lam

A young mountain goat trying to move to the suburbs had his hopes dashed Wednesday after being netted and sent back to the wilds.

A young mountain goat trying to move to the suburbs had his hopes dashed Wednesday after being netted and sent back to the wilds.

The renegade ungulate was first spotted in the Elijah Smith Elementary School parking lot on Tuesday afternoon.

“It was pretty amazing,” said school principal John Wright.

“When do you see a goat trotting leisurely through your parking lot?”

 After leaving the school, the billy wandered up Hamilton Boulevard’s median munching on rosebushes.

He caused a stir.

“There was suddenly this flurry of activity and we started getting all these phone calls,” said Environment sheep and goat biologist Jean Carey.

“And I was like, ‘Ya, right, a mountain goat in Whitehorse.’”

But a source, who once worked in Carey’s office, confirmed the sightings.

Conservation officers went looking for the furry fugitive, but it eluded them.

“We don’t know where it hid out and spent the night,” said Carey.

The next morning, at 7:35 a.m. Environment got another call.

The rogue goat was in Jennifer Moorlag’s backyard in Logan, rooting through her recycling.

Still in her bathrobe, Moorlag let the dog out, as she does every morning.

But after opening the door, the dog just stopped dead and started this low growl, she said.

“And this is something he never does.”

Moorlag peered around the corner and came face to face with the wild goat.

“He was only 16 inches from my face,” she said.

“And he kind of lunged.”

Luckily, the bearded billy had managed to jump on Moorlag’s garbage can and was trapped in an enclosed, fenced area.

Adrenaline pumping, Moorlag called her friend and next-door-neighbour Sue Richards, who used to work for Environment.

“I wasn’t very rational,” laughed Moorlag.

“I said, ‘It’s furry and has horns — you have to fix it.’”

Richards made a call, and then it was all hands on deck, said Carey.

Armed with a large fishing net and an old crate used to relocate goats to White Mountain in the early ‘80s, conservation officers and a lab tech squared off against the animal.

 “Where sheep will run, goats in the wild will back into a corner and use their horns as a weapon — and they’re sharp,” said Carey.

“People can get gored with them.”

The billy was gruff, but he was young and officers were fairly certain they could restrain him once he was tangled in the net.

“And he couldn’t have landed in a better backyard, with the chain link fence to contain him,” said Carey.

Officers climbed on Moorlag’s roof to drop their net on the critter.

“The whole thing was pretty wild,” said Moorlag.

The capture was successful — they got their goat.

He wasn’t drugged at all during the capture, said Carey.

The goat was taken to White Mountain.

Young male goats sometimes go on forays or walk-abouts to look for greener pastures, said Carey.

“But it’s unlikely he would have ended up with another herd, if we hadn’t captured him and taken him to White Mountain.”

And it’s a good group of goats for him to join, because it’s a reintroduced herd, she said.

“We don’t want to be in the business of moving animals around willy-nilly, but this guy was obviously in distress.”

It’s been a weird year, said Carey.

There was a bear hanging around at the end of Main Street; there were deer spotted on Two-Mile Hill; there was a moose seen at First and Strickland; two caribou visited Robert Campbell Bridge and there was the eagle’s nest at the wayside on Robert Service Drive, said Environment spokesman Dennis Senger.

It proves wildlife can show up in Whitehorse suburbs, said Carey, who is concerned domestic diseases could affect wild populations.

Recently, a land application was denied because it was too close to sheep habitat, she said.

And Environment was criticized for being too cautious.

“But if a goat shows up in Whitehorse, then how far is far enough to be safe?” said Carey.

“What if this goat had arrived at an agricultural organization with domestic sheep and goats?”

There are two possible reasons for the influx of wildlife into inhabited areas, said Senger.

“Either there’s just more wildlife. Or we’re seeing more of them.”

The late spring also made food supplies scarce, said Carey.

“Plus, we’re pushing out into their habitat more and more.

“And we’re not very good at sharing.”