A mountain goat with beard, horns, and white long fur was laying down on a lawn in downtown Palmer munching grass not too far from McDonald’s when Matanuska-Susitna Borough Animal Care Officer Nick Uphus came around the corner at 2:49 pm today to help the Palmer Police with a loose goat call.
“I thought it was a loose domestic goat when I got the call. I knew Palmer Police would not put a goat in the back of the squad car,” said Uphus who assists the police with animal calls. “It stood up. And I said, ‘That is a mountain goat!’” Built solid, the young furry goat weighs some 180 to 200 pounds, and normally moves in high altitudes with a herd likely along the Knik River or near Lake George, not across the state Glenn Highway in a subdivision near a fast food restaurant.
“It was odd for everybody,” Uphus said. He retold the story of how everyone involved—State Wildlife Troopers, Animal Care, Palmer Police—expected to see a regular goat and wondered some, why they were getting the call. “I’ve been called on reindeer in the road and on a loose bison herd on Lazy Mountain but never a mountain goat in downtown Palmer,” Uphus said.
Mat-Su Borough Animal Care Chief Matt Hardwig arrived on scene in disbelief. He knows about sheep and goat habitat. “I’ve never heard of a goat or sheep on this side of the Matanuska River,” Hardwig said. Hardwig shot video of the mountain goat as it lowered its head and squared its shoulders, darting across a driveway around a house, its beard bouncing with its swift gait.
Biologists from the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game darted and tranquilized the goat and returned it to its habitat in the Knik River, Hardwig said.
Pleased it turned out well for the mountain goat, Animal Care Director Kirsten Vesel said "these rare, rare animal stories are the fun side of our work."
See the video by Chief Hardwig. Reporters you have permission to rebroadcast. Permission is given to disseminate photos by Nick Uphus and Matt Hardwig with the Mat-Su Borough.