Feral goat

Common name: Feral goat
Scientific name: Capra aegagrus hircus
Management programme: Site-led

Why are they a pest?

Feral goats are only considered to be pests under our plan in our site-led programmes in Dunedin. We don’t want the billy goats gruff getting fat at the expense of the important biodiversity in our site-led programmes.

Feral goats trample on and eat indigenous ecosystems. Even in low numbers, their impacts on forest and scrublands can be serious. They prevent regeneration of seedlings by eating saplings, changing the make-up of these ecosystems. This means that there is an increase of plants that they don’t like the taste of, and some places have been turned into grassland.

Feral goats don’t have many impacts on landowners like farmers, although they may occasionally compete with sheep for feed, and they have a wide range of parasites and diseases in common with sheep. They can’t roam very far and they are controlled relatively easily.

What do they look like?

Feral goats are a similar size to sheep, with short hair, pointed horns and a beard. They can be white, black, brown or a combination of these colours. The males are usually larger than females. Their hooves have pointed, slightly incurved tips and their eyes are greenish blue. They are social animals, spread out slowly and, like most of us, don’t really like to cross large rivers, unless there’s a bridge nearby. This means they are spread out in patches. However, if the conditions are right they can have lots of kids which means their population can double in size every year. Their most common cause of death is by hunters but their kids can be prey for feral pigs.

What are the rules?

Under Otago’s pest plan, feral goats are only classified as a pest in the site-led areas; Otago Peninsula, West Harbour/Mt Cargill, Quarantine Island and Goat Island. 

The goal is to stop feral goats from establishing themselves in these areas.

There is only one rule for feral goats that applies to the site-led areas and that is that no one can keep, hold, enclose or otherwise harbour feral goats in these areas. You also can’t bring them into the site-led areas.

Feral goats are managed by the Wild Animal Control Act 1977, which is administered by the Department of Conservation. As long as they are controlled through these means it would not be suitable for inclusion in our pest plan outside of site-led programmes.

How will we achieve that?

ORC will take a lead role in supporting the goals of community groups and agencies in site-led areas in relation to feral goats. This may be through advice, education, funding, service delivery or requiring landowners to undertake control when needed.

Management programme