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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Pill option to control goat population
cashmere goats
Cashmere goats have lived on the Great Orme for a hundred years
A herd of goats in north Wales could be put on the pill in a bid to keep down their numbers.

Conwy councillors are being urged to consider birth control for the 250 wild cashmere goats which roam Llandudno's Great Orme.

Queen Victoria
The breed was maintained by Queen Victoria

As well as suggesting a long-term programme of contraception, council officers are recommending that some goats should be removed to other country parks.

Goats have been associated with the area for more than a hundred years.

The animals living there today are descendants of the first of breed to arrive in Britain.

They were maintained by Queen Victoria and were used as mascots for he Royal Welch Fusiliers.

Councillors are being asked to consider controlling numbers on the Orme because of fears that the goats could run out of food if breeding continues at the present rate.

Seaside town of Llandudno, Great Orme
The seaside town of Llandudno, Great Orme

And relocation of some of the herd has been suggested because of concerns that if foot-and-mouth was to hit the picturesque tourist spot, the whole herd would have to be culled and the unique bloodline lost.

Councillors are being asked to consider controlling numbers on the Orme because of fears that the goats could run out of food if breeding continues at the present rate.

Several alternatives have been considered, but officers - with the backing of the RSPCA, a local veterinary surgeon, the Countryside Council for Wales and Mostyn Estates which own the land - have decided that progesterone implants are the best option.

Threat of loss

Tom Gravett, Conwy's principal countryside officer has warned that a decision must be taken soon.

"There is a need for action, because sooner or later the population will exceed the amount of food available on the Orme," he said.

"In addition, the breed is genetically unique and could not be recreated if lost.

"This is perhaps best brought home in the context of the current foot-and-mouth outbreak.

"If the disease spread to the Great Orme resulting in a cull, the breed would be lost."

Last year experts warned that the herd could die out unless they were moved.

But there were concerns that splitting up the herd is unnecessary, and could bring to an end the goats' long association with the headland.

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