Gutsy Goats Caught Scaling Super-Steep Dam (Pics)

goats scale dam photo
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Photo via Peter Bosshard / International Rivers

Dams are among the most daunting examples of mankind's engineering savvy, and they're also perhaps the most environmentally impactful, too -- but none of that could keep this brave herd of Ibex goats from scaling the sheer face of one such dam in Italy. While it may be a testament to the impressive climbing prowess of the goats, such displays also speak wonders about nature's ability to overcome some of the toughest obstacles we can throw at her.

goats on a dam photo

Photo via Peter Bosshard / International Rivers

Alpine Ibex goats, like the ones seen here, are native to the Alps and known for their awesome climbing abilities. Although they are usually found in the rocky mountain slopes at about 15,000 above sea-level -- clearly, they have no problem navigating man-made structures, too.

In fact, this herd of Ibex goats seem right at home on the near-sheer face of Cingino Dam in northern Italy. In the photos, the animals appear to be licking the stones for the salt and other minerals, though some folks have suggested the goats are simply practicing their climbing skills on the 160 foot stone wall.

goats climb a dam photo

Photo via Peter Bosshard / International Rivers

Peter Bosshard, policy director for International Rivers, interprets these impressive scenes as indicative of how nature will overcome mankind's often destructive engineering accomplishments:

Dam builders may use the pictures as proof that dams provide some unexpected benefits in spite of all their negative impacts. Dam busters may find hope in the fact that if we can't decommission dams, goats can at least re-commission them. In the meantime I tip my hat to the fearless climbers and am impressed by how nature reclaims her rights 80 years after the dam was built.

For those skeptical of the photographs, filmed footage of goats on the face of the alpine dam confirms their amazing feat -- or, should I say, amazing feet.