A $6,000 donation from the Midwest Wild Sheep Foundation paid for radio collars to monitor the animals. Weekly flights monitor the animals’ movements and well-being, he said.
Public rumors of the Utah herd being decimated by mountain lions are untrue, Kanta said. One of the transplanted goats died from stress related to the move, he said. The rest are adapting well to their new surroundings.
“New bloodlines increase the genetic diversity and we like genetic diversity,” Kanta said. “We should be healthy since these animals will be co-mingling.”
Goats can be found in the granite spires of Custer State Park and around the Crazy Horse memorial and Mount Rushmore. They have also been spotted in Spring Creek Canyon, Spearfish Canyon and Vanocker Canyon, Kanta said.
Mount Rushmore is the most likely place to see mountain goats and mornings are the best time of day to spot them close to the highways, Kanta said.
“I always say that’s your best bet,” he said.
Mountain goats may not be native to western South Dakota, but they have adapted to the rocky high points of the central and southern Black Hills.
“For a mountain goat that’s a must-have. They bed up on those rocks. They stand on those and can see danger coming from miles away. They’re very agile on the rocks. They move around well,” Kanta said.
Mountain goats are herbivorous, munching on plants and berries, even subsisting on lichen scraped off the rocks.
“Just like domestic goats, they’ll eat just about anything,” Kanta said.
The GF&P; will continue to keep an eye on the current population. The animals have been off-limits for hunting since 2007, but a limited season could return if the population continues to grow, Kanta said.
“This really should set us up for years to come,” Kanta said.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com