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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
RSPCA is 'alarmed' at goat cull
Wild goat
The goats have grazed in the 300-acre valley for years
The RSPCA says it is "alarmed" that a controversial cull of goats at a Devon beauty spot has been carried out.

The wild animals have roamed for years within the Valley of Rocks at Lynton but have been escaping and causing damage to trees and gardens.

The charity said it was seeking assurances from Lynton authorities that the animals were killed outright and did not suffer unnecessarily.

Mayor Suzette Hibbert said it had been done professionally and humanely.

Caustic soda

Some locals have described the goats, which graze in the 300-acre valley in Exmoor National Park, as "destructive and dangerous pests".

The council had decided in 2005 against culling the animals and voted instead to install fencing and a cattle grid.

But in January it appeared the goats had learned how to "tiptoe" over the grid to get back into the village.

I think the herd is really in trouble and it's a great shame because they are such an attraction
Jan Hunt
Friends of Lynton Goats

In March, 12 green peppers, thought to have been meant for the goats, were found stuffed with what was believed to be caustic soda crystals and baited blue grain, similar to rat poison.

And in April councillors voted for the cull, which was confirmed by Ms Hibbert in a statement issued on Friday.

She said the welfare of the animals and the public had been "paramount" throughout.

She could not confirm how many of the 100-strong herd had been culled but said only the billy goats were affected.

"We have said all along the nannies and kids would not be touched," she said.

The RSPCA said it believed as many as 20 billy goats had been culled and said it was "not aware" of any research that demonstrated a cull was necessary.

A spokesperson for the charity said it had alerted the Lynton authorities to long-term alternatives in April 2005 and said it was "disappointed" to see its advice has not been investigated further.

Jan Hunt from the Friends of Lynton Goats said she believed the problem could have been solved by adapting a cattle grid and raising existing fences.

"It is so sad and so unnecessary, we're now left with a really depleted stock, the leaders and the strong ones are lost," she said.

"I think the herd is really in trouble and it's a great shame because they are such an attraction."

Wild goats facing a gruff future
08 Apr 05 |  Cornwall

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