Colorado Mountain Goats Transferred to South Dakota

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A joint operation by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, South Dakota Department of Game Fish and Parks and the US Forest Service has successfully relocated 14 mountain goats from Colorado to the Mount Rushmore area in South Dakota. The animals are intended to bolster a declining population of mountain goats in the Black Hills.

The mountain goats were captured in Lake County near Mount Elbert, the highest point in Colorado. The animals were plucked from the mountain using a helicopter. Each animal was given a thorough examination and a clean bill of health before being trucked to South Dakota. The first group of six mountain goats was released in the Black Hills Nov. 3. A second group of eight more was released Nov. 4.

Mountain goats were introduced in South Dakota in the 1920's. Biologists estimate there were up to 400 mountain goats in the Black Hills at one time, but the population has declined in recent years. Indications are there are only about 100 mountain goats in the Black Hills today.

Ironically, South Dakota was one of several states that sent mountain goats to Colorado in the late 1940's to help establish a herd in Colorado. Today, Colorado has around 2,000 mountain goats. The 14 captured last week were part of a group of about 100 in the Mount Elbert and Mount Massive area near Leadville.

Mountain goats are one of the most sure-footed mammals in North America. "Most people associate mountain goats with high altitude terrain," said Jack Vayhinger, a biologist with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, "but they are agile climbers and do equally well at lower elevations as long as they have cliffs and rocky outcroppings to flee from predators."