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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
Reprieve for Devon's wild goats
Lynton wild goats
Attempts to keep the herd in the valley have failed
A decision on whether to cull a herd of wild goats in Devon has been postponed.

Wild goats have roamed the Valley of Rocks near Lynmouth, north Devon, for hundreds of years and 79 were recorded in the Domesday book.

Some residents want to get rid of the goats claiming they are destructive, while others say they should stay.

Councillors were due to confirm a decision on Thursday, but will now hold a special meeting in the next few weeks so that all sides can air their views.

They'll just go anywhere they can to find something to eat. They're a pest and there's no doubt about it
Lynton resident

The goats roaming the rugged Exmoor valley have strayed into the town to graze on plants and flowers in gardens, allotments and the local cemetery.

Some locals say the goats are ruining the area and are pressing Lynton Town Council to carry out the cull.

The move has attracted fierce opposition from environmental groups.

Lynton resident Roland Gold believes there are alternative ways of dealing with the goats.

He said: "We've been trying to sort out a system of fencing and cattle grids to make it possible to keep the animals in the valley where they're needed.

Tourist attraction

"Unfortunately, there are people against cattle grids and there are people against fencing and there are people who're unhappy with the goats intruding in gardens."

Mr Gold says the goats are not dangerous and attract thousands of tourists to the area every year.

Wild goats
Residents' views of the wild goats are varied

The RSPCA criticised the planned cull, saying it was not aware of any research demonstrating it was necessary.

Kevin Manning, the charity's regional animal welfare manager, said: "There are ways of ensuring good animal welfare and controlling numbers of feral goats without mass culling."

He pointed to the selective breeding programme at the Great Orme in Wales, which has an established feral goat colony, as a way of managing numbers.

'No discrimination'

But other townspeople say the goats are a problem which must be tackled.

One resident said: "They have no discrimination and they'll just go anywhere they can to find something to eat. They're a pest and there's no doubt about it."

Town clerk Geoff Dwyer told BBC News the council was in discussions with English Nature.

"The valley needs management and one option is grazing," he said.

"There are about 80 goats and we will be discussing various options, including relocating a significant number of them, if not all.

"Opinion in the town is divided, so I'd say the council is between a rock and a hard place."

See footage of the wild goats

Wild goats facing a gruff future
08 Apr 05 |  Cornwall
Stray goats leave council gruff
19 Feb 04 |  Berkshire

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