"In North America there is one large animal that belongs almost entirely to the realm of towering rock and unmelting snow. Pressing hard against the upper limit of life's possibilities, it exists higher and steeper throughout the year than any other big beast on the continent. It is possibly the best and most complete mountaineer that ever existed on any continent. Oreamnos americanus is its scientific name. Its common name is mountain goat." -Douglas H. Chadwick
We are thrilled to announce we will be returning to the Black Hills of South Dakota for our fourth annual volunteer project on April 21-23 of 2017. This is one of our favorite projects and we couldn’t be more excited to do it all again. The objective of the survey is to once again conduct a thorough census of the region’s goat population while documenting the recruitment of last year’s brood.
The saga of the South Dakota mountain goat population is nothing short of unique. Back in the 1920’s, half-a-dozen British Columbian goats kept in a small zoo in Custer State Park escaped into the Black Hills. By the 1960’s the area boasted an impressive population of an estimated 300-400 animals. Due to a lack of genetic-diversity, and other natural variables, the population took a sizable plunge in the 1980’s and again in the 2000’s.
In 2006, in an effort to diversify bloodlines, South Dakota brought in 19 healthy goats from Colorado. In 2013, another transplant funded by the Dakota Chapter of SCI and the Midwest WSF brought 22 Utah goats to their new home in the Black Hills. These transplants have been vital to the health and longevity of the state’s mountain goat population.
We need your help! On April 21-23 of 2017, the RMGA will be assisting South Dakota Game Fish & Parks in a fundamental field project. Volunteers will be provided complementary camping sites at the State Game Lodge, located on highway 16A, in Custer State Park. Below is a satellite image of the Black Hills with a red “A” marker on our campsite. View a map of the campground HERE.
Each day we will begin the survey with an 8am morning meeting at the “Big Barn” next to the organized camping spots. We will distribute survey packets and divide into five search teams before distributing across the Black Hills for a full day of mountain goat surveying. At the end of the day, we will reassemble at the same barn to collect data before the evening’s RMGA sponsored bar-b-q. Cabins and motels are available close by for anyone not wishing to camp. Water, food, and good boots are all mandatory. Please bring GPS units and any optics you may have.
If interested in volunteering for this project, please contact RMGA President, Pete Muennich at (406) 551-5104 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with everyone for another successful weekend of surveying in the beautiful Black Hills!