Maternal defensive behavior against predators may appear risky but is common in many species. Herein we describe maternal defensive behavior of mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) against Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) predatory attempts. We found that Golden Eagles attacked goats in 1.9% of sightings (n = 311 sightings of active Golden Eagles over 12 years) but were never successful. Mothers always defended their young against Golden Eagle attacks. Predation by Golden Eagles on young-of-the-year appears low for most ungulate species, including mountain goats. The benefits of defending offspring against eagles are likely high in ungulates, and we would therefore expect selection to favor maternal defensive behavior.
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Vol. 69 • No. 1