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Monday, November 13, 2006

Taking the goat

The Guardian reports that up to a quarter of all the wild goats living in Snowdonia are to be culled to allow sheep to graze more freely, to protect young trees and even to avoid car accidents.

Apparently, feral goat numbers have almost doubled in the last five years to around 500. The animals are accused of coming down off the high mountains, marauding through gardens and eating flowers, knocking down walls and eating saplings in protected woods.

Briefing papers prepared by the park authorities say that conservation efforts are being compromised by the goats. "[They] can potentially kill entire cohorts of trees. They can severely affect tree regeneration. There is also evidence that they do cause short-term localised loss of forage to farmers.

"Goats have been fenced out of sensitive areas, captured and removed. However, fencing is largely ineffective, live capture results in significant stress to the animals and finding 'homes' for the captured goats is becoming increasingly difficult." The cull, conducted secretly last week in Coed Dinorwic forest, overlooking Snowdon, is expected to be followed by major culls next year on National Trust land and in the Rhinog mountains, some of the wildest country in Britain.

"There is no intention to remove them [completely], but we need to deal with their growing numbers," said a spokesman for the Countryside Council for Wales at the weekend. "Local residents are worried about damage to their gardens and the real danger posed by the goats' feeding habits around highways." But there is concern that the rare goats are being persecuted by the authorities and being unfairly blamed for damage done by sheep, horses, rabbits and - mainly - man.

The paper lists a number of other animals who are subject to threatened culls including badgers, who have unfairly been blamed for the spread of bovine TB, grey squirrels, hedgehogs, deer, seals, seagulls, mink, crows, magpies, boar and ruddy duck.

It seems that having moulded nature to its own needs, man must kill helpless animals to keep it that way. I was particularly struck by the comments of a Manchester pensioner, who was enjoying a day in the Coed Dinorwic Forest. Speaking about claims that goats are responsible to damage to a random sample of 50 saplings under about 10 years old, John Francis said: "That's nothing to the damage that people are doing. Yet we don't cull them."
Don't forget cormorants.
Oh, ok then - let's start by culling the Manchester pensioner. No?

No. what a silly comment.
today's goats, yesterday's newts...


No pledges from the Lib Dems on childcare today, Peter?
We dont follow the herd on these things Blamerbell, plenty of time to launch policy initiatives. Our draft manifesto will be launched within weeks.
What's that got to do with goats???

Our Communities 1st partnerhsip has talked about getting in a tean of goats to get rid of the overgrowth as RCT council seems incapable of doing it. We got mountains and hills, they'd feel right at home!
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