WATCH: Mountain Goat Throws Itself Down a Mountain To Avoid Being Killed By an Eagle

by Jon D. B.

Ah, nature. How you never cease to amaze. Especially when it comes to the life and times of the world’s mountain goats.

Would you throw yourself off a cliff to prevent being eaten alive? It’s a natural first instinct to say “absolutely not,” but as a wildlife tech who has seen things eaten alive in person, I can firmly confess I would rather hurl myself off a cliff. No contest.

In the wild reality we live in, this is exactly what certain species of mountain-dwelling goats do to prevent such a fate. Take this European chap, for example, who hurls himself down a mountain to prevent feeling every slice and peck of a golden eagle eating him alive:

By the coloration, this is no American mountain goat, but a chamois, or Alpine chamois. A species of the goat-antelope family, these expert mountaineers are native to the Alps and surrounding Europe. And like many of their relatives, they will, in fact, throw themselves down a cliff to prevent being eaten alive.

It’s no coincidence that golden eagles have taken to adapting this strategy, either. In a successful hunt, the eagle will drive the goat to the edge of a cliff, pick it up, and drop it to its death. Once its prey is dead, the eagle will then feast where the carcass lays. Brutal, but effective.

In this instance, however, this golden eagle gets more than she bargained for. Her dense musculature is the only thing protecting her hollow bones from snapping apart as this far-heavier goat thrashes her down the mountainside. It’s a rough watch, but then again, so is most of nature.

Ancient Rivals: Eagle vs Mountain Goat

This is an ancient rivalry, too. Europeans have been watching mountain goats and eagles go at it for so long, in fact, that artwork depicting their struggle goes back millennia.

Eagles fighting over a chamois. Mountains. Engraving, 1855. (Photo by: Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The golden eagle’s ability to hunt these goats is as impressive today as ever, too. Female golden eagles max out at about 15-pounds, and males around 10.

An adult chamois goat, however, can weigh anywhere from 60 to 130-pounds. Yet seeing a 10-pound eagle take flight with a 60-pound goat isn’t an uncommon sight. In fact, it’s one of the most well-documented wildlife hunting strategies in Europe.

As for how they do it, golden eagles have an immense 7-to-8-foot wingspan. This, combined with their thick musculature, gives them incredible lifting power. Combine that with the immense grip strength of their talons, and you’ve got one of Earth’s fiercest predators.

Need further proof of the golden eagle’s power? Watch as this Beastly Golden Eagle Flies Off With Full-Grown Red Fox in its Talons next.