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Please Pass the Salt!

#funfactfriday Did you know that Mountain Goats are so obsessed with salt that they will travel over 20 kilometres in order to find mineral licks?

Goats have a fairly varied diet and eat almost any kind of vegetation, including grasses, mosses, flowers, lichen, seeds, ferns, and twigs. Although there are lots of nutrients in plants, they contain very little salt, which is critical for the overall function of many body systems. This deficiency creates intense salt cravings in the goats, which is what motivates them to travel such extreme distances for such a simple mineral.

In remote areas this is not a problem, however, in areas where there are human settlements and roads, mountain goats are often hit by cars as their drive to lick residual salts off the roads is stronger than their drive to stay out of the way of traffic. This is also a problem in recreation areas, as another good source of salt is human sweat and urine! In areas with nearby Mountain Goat populations (such as our local Cathedral Provincial Park!) hikers and campers are forbidden from urinating outdoors and must pack sweaty clothing away when not in use.

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