Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 12:14 UK

Contraceptives to curb goat herd


The goats are descendants from the royal herd at Windsor

A herd of feral goats is to be rounded up and injected with contraceptives by a council to prevent over-breeding.

Since being introduced more than 100 years ago, numbers of Kashmir goats on Llandudno's Great Orme have risen dramatically.

The goats have broken into gardens looking for food and Conwy Council has been using implants to reduce fertility in the 180-strong herd.

These are no longer available so a vaccine will be used as an alternative.

Numbers for the goats peaked in the 1990s when around 200 goats were grazing the slopes of the headland.

Such large numbers of goats were however looking for alternative sources of food and gardens were being damaged.

We don't want to lose the goats on the Great Orme

Helen Jowett, Conwy council

Tom Parry lives near the Orme, and has suffered damage to his property several times, although he says the goats are part of the town.

"Until the 1970s they were very small in numbers," he said.

"If you'd seen a goat you'd say 'oh I've seen the goats today', but by the 1980s there was a huge explosion and they were becoming a bit of a problem."

Mr Parry said he thought the majority of people were in favour of the goats but "a small contingent would like them removed from the Orme because of the damage they do to gardens."

"It's not cut and dried," he added.

Goat numbers

Helen Jowett is a senior countryside officer with Conwy council and part of her job is controlling goat numbers.

She said the fact the implants were no longer available had caused a bit of a headache.

"We've had to scratch our heads and talk to a few people to find other methods," she said.

One of the Great Orme goats
The goats are characterised by their long coats and impressive horns

Ms Jowett said the best that could be found was a vaccine which reduces the fertility of the nanny goats.

"It should actually be a lot simpler to use, because it is a straightforward injection, whereas the implant had to be inserted under the skin of the nanny goat."

Part of the cost will be met by the RSPCA and wardens on the Orme are also looking at moving some of the goats to other parts of the UK.

"We don't want to lose the goats on the Great Orme at all," she said.

"We want to make sure we have a stable number here.

"They are very much part of the heritage of the area, and they also play a part in grazing the headland," she added.

Catching the goats to administer the vaccine is the next hurdle.

Luckily soldiers from the 1st Battalion the Royal Welch Fusiliers have agreed to help.

As they round up the herd they will also choose a goat to be the regimental mascot.

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