“By our estimates (the population) was well below 100 animals,” said John Kanta, regional wildlife manager for the GF&P. “We were down around 60-70 mountain goats just prior to closing the  season.” The cause of population decline was and remains largely unknown; however, there are some suspected causes. The first comes from a loss of habitat. “Up until we transplanted goats from Colorado, our goats came from six that came from Alberta, Canada in the early 1920s,” he said. “They escaped a zoo-type facility in Custer State Park, so all the goats we had originated from those six.
Kanta said that in 2007 the rapid increase in pine beetle infestation killed thousands of acres of trees leading to a more open canopy and better habitat for the animals. The GF&P Commission’s proposal calls for two hunting licenses to be issued and areas would include the portions of Pennington and Custer counties west of Highway 79; excluding Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Jewel Cave National Monument and the fenced portions of Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. [Mark Watson]Let's see: beetles bad but beetles good. Got it.
The reasoning is hardly mysterious: it's all about the money hunting funnels into a region smothering under single-party rule.
Cross-posted at The Dakota Progressive.