Mammals of Glacier National Park
For April's coin, I picked the quarter that's being released this month, the Glacier National Park quarter. I learned a lot about the mountain goat in this design!
Did you know that a mountain goat isn't really a goat? Although it looks like a goat with a shaggy coat, it's really a member of the antelope family! Antelopes are good runners, and mountain goats can run too–right up the sides of mountains!
Mountain goats are native to the western mountain ranges of North America, from the northern United States all the way up into Canada and Alaska. They kind of symbolize mountain life. So it's only natural that a mountain goat would find itself depicted on the Glacier National Park quarter. Glacier is a park in Montana where many of these magnificent animals live.
How do they survive the harsh wintery conditions of the western mountains? Mountain goats have strong forelegs and split hooves (like me!), perfect for mountain climbing. Their thick hollow hair and woolly undercoat hold heat and repel wind and water. Just the right combination!
Mountain goats can live a pretty peaceful life. Much of their habitat is on federally protected land (national parks and forests) and few predators can follow them up those rocky cliffs.
Here's a day in the life of a mountain goat: Get up early, before the bears and cougars. Munch some moss and grass and...most any kind of plant that's around. Maybe stop by the goat lick to get some minerals in the diet. For lunch, just relax on a sunlit snowbank. Dinner is feast time! Eat long into the night, especially if there's a full moon to light the way. Then get comfortable on a nice high rocky cliff for some shut-eye.
The males (billies) and females (nannies) look similar to each other. Both have beards and black horns. And they're not alone! Glacier National Park is home to 62 species of mammals, ranging in size from the tiny pygmy shrew (about the weight of a dime) to the majestic grizzly bear. The mix of species here is unique in the mainland United States. You can read more about this design on the Glacier National Park quarter information page.