Goat contraception to be used in Valley of Rocks
A REVOLUTIONARY new form of contraception will soon be on offer in the Exmoor area – but only to the goats.
Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council is currently trying to raise funds to use the contraceptive jab, which comes from the USA, on goats in the Valley of Rocks.
The herd currently stands at between 60 and 70 and the council would like to keep the numbers at this level so it can avoid another unpopular culling of the feral animals.
The contraceptive injection would last for three years when the herd numbers would be reviewed again.
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The injection has been successfully used on wild goats in Great Orme in Wales and the council hopes its achievements can be repeated on Exmoor.
Kevin Harris, the town council clerk, said: "The negative effects of more goats are felt by the community. We know what troubles there were when the herd was uncontrolled.
"We are aiming to be more humane in terms of animal rights, but we need people to demonstrate their compassion for animals by donating funds."
The cost of the contraception is likely to be between £10,000 and £12,000 over the three years so fundraising will be needed.
"About 70 to 80 per cent of the female goats will be vaccinated and they will be reviewed over the next two years to assess the impact on herd management," added Mr Harris.
"We will still have kids coming through, but hopefully they will be matched by the old-aged and the sick dying."
Elizabeth Rodway, a councillor who owns the grazing rights in the Valley of Rocks, said controlling the herd numbers would allow for easier breeding in terms of genetics.
She confirmed 100 per cent of the herd were currently in a good, healthy condition, which was why the contraceptive would be a preferable alternative to culling.
"It would be beneficial because most years we have surplus numbers of goats and it is difficult to relocate them. Also it is difficult because now there aren't any grants for conservation grazing.
"Then there is culling, which is not very good for a herd as tourists come down to see the kids and the goats."
Mrs Rodway has been in regular contact with goat keepers in Great Orme as they suffered similar problems with their goat herds.
"The Valley of Rocks is very much in the public eye because it is so unusual, so therefore it is always under scrutiny," she said.
"It would be absolutely brilliant if we could get the contraception. All the welfare people are very keen because it is not good culling healthy animals.
"We are not just taking the easy option."
The bi-annual round up, which was next scheduled for April 17, has been pushed back to June in the hope funds will be raised to allow the goats to be given the contraceptive jab at the same time as their other vaccinations.