Monday, November 06, 2006

Exporting mountain goats

Colorado has enough mountain goats that it can give them to other states. According to the Denver Post, Wildlife officials have transferred a dozen mountain goats from Leadville to the Black Hills in South Dakota in efforts to boost the goat population there.
The goats were taken from near 14,433-foot Mount Elbert by helicopter. Each was examined and then driven by truck to South Dakota, the Colorado Division of Wildlife said.
The goats were released beginning Friday.

This may come as a surprise, but the mountain goat is not a native species in Colorado. According to the DOW, "The mountain goat, like the moose, was introduced deliberately to Colorado, to expand hunting opportunities. The first such introduction was in 1947, when 14 goats were imported from Montana and released in the Collegiate Range. Later, additional mountain goats were obtained from Idaho, South Dakota (from the introduced herd in the Black Hills), and British Columbia.
In 1993 the Colorado Wildlife Commission proclaimed the mountain goat a native species. However, most professional biologists doubt that the animals ever occurred in Colorado naturally. Some early travelers reported goats in Colorado, but none of those reports is absolutely reliable. Side-by-side, mountain goats and bighorn sheep look very different, but from a distance a person might mistake a bighorn female for a goat, because bighorn ewes have prominent, gently curved horns. Even today, visitors to Colorado’s high country often identify bighorn sheep as “mountain goats.” A bone from an extinct species of mountain goat was found in fossil deposits about 800,000 years old in Porcupine Cave, South Park"

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