Did you know? There are feral goat herds on the Southern Gulf islands in the Straight of Georgia, BC. I knew they had lots of cute-but-annoying deer already. But I learned about the wild goats on a recent trip to Saturna Island. To histornerd out for a moment…the name Saturna comes from Santa Saturnina, a Spanish sailing ship under the command of Jose Maria Narvaez during his exploration of the Pacific Northwest coastline in 1791.
Estimates vary, but apparently there are around 100 wild goats. I saw about 12. They are descended from domesticated goats brought from Europe – either the ones kept on a ship to provide milk or escaped farm animals of the early farmers. Europeans starting settling on the islands in the late 1800s. Of course, the first nations peoples had villages on Saturna for thousands of years before that. There were fairly large permanent villages at one time, and they lived in cedar bighouses – some of the corner cedar posts are apparently still here.
The feral herds have roamed the nearly vertical slopes of Brown Ridge at the island’s south end for nearly a century. A couple of them looked like they were fighting (or play-fighting) but most seemed pretty low-key, not what I’d hope from something ‘wild’. But they are goats, not dragons, so okay then. Munch away endlessly on the grass, you chill wild goats.
They keep the grass trimmed short like a golf course – the slope looked like a giant steeply angled lawn… though with some bare patches, and narrow brown dirt goat paths winding along sideways.
Next visit on the Island was the spectacular East Point. There we saw sea lions lollygagging on a big rock. Also spotted flying right over the sea lions – a military helicopter.
Also at East Point is a dramatic sandstone shore, full of curves and holes. The rock so clearly shows how it has been carved by water over many many years.
Other fauna spottings included bats, deer, ravens, eagles, colourful hummingbirds…and the magnificent turkey vulture: shown below…soaring and probably looking for something to eat. Unfortunate name for a bird that is much like the glorified eagle.