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Scholarship results in research on Colorado's mountain goats

Release Date: February 08, 2016

Cora Zaletel

Executive Director, External Affairs

Colorado State University-Pueblo

719.549.2810

Press Release

goat scholarshipPUEBLO - A scholarship agreement between the Colorado State University-Pueblo Foundation and the International Order of Rocky Mountain Goats (IORMG) and the resulting Rocky Mountain Goats Foundation Research Scholarship is producing data that the IORMG hopes will help to preserve the Rocky Mountain Goat and its environment.

Dedicated to the preservation of the Rocky Mountain Goat, the IORMG operates a non-profit arm, the Rocky Mountain Goats Foundation, that seeks to preserve the animal for generations and educate the public about its ever-changing habitat. Research scholarships established in 2013 allow CSU-Pueblo biology, chemistry, and biochemistry graduate and undergraduate students to conduct research on the species, which ultimately is presented to members of the IORMG.

According to IORMG Foundation member Keith Kohrs, the IORMG organization is dedicated to the preservation of game, especially the Rocky Mountain Goat.

"We feel it's important to know what is happening to the dwindling goat population and why the goats prosper in some places and not in others," he said. "Through the Foundation, we give the students money to do the work studying the goat habitats in order to answer some of those questions."

Eligible CSU-Pueblo students are full or part-time students who hold a 3.0 grade point average. Scholarship recipients are required to submit a research proposal, which is vetted by the department and then reviewed and approved by the IORMG. Recipients are paid to attend the organization's annual Wadi event in September, where they give a presentation on their research findings. The scholarship provides up to three scholarships at $3000 each a year based on the quality of applicants, funding available, and depth of research topic.

Current scholarship recipient and Pueblo native Jeanette Cortez, a graduate student in biology, is comparing mercury levels in Colorado mountain goats with hooved mammals at lower elevations like big horn sheep and mule deer to assess the potential risk of this contaminant. Her research investigated if mountain goats were at a greater risk for mercury accumulation due to the elevation at which they live.

Christa Dunlap, a junior biology major (honors, pre-vet) from Fountain, is researching through DNA sequencing the potential threat of heavy lungworm parasite loads to the Rocky Mountain Goat herds in Colorado. Identification of these parasites in the species could help to improve prevention strategies. Lungworms were determined to be in large part responsible for the dramatic decline of the Bighorn sheep population over the last 100 years. Even though a 1983 review reported high mortality of kids in a mountain goat population in the northwestern Cascade Range, the Colorado Division of Wildlife does not participate in routine worming of any of the mountain goat herds.

For more information on the scholarship, contact the CSU-Pueblo Foundation at 719.549.2380.

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.

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