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Council plan to reduce herd of Great Orme goats

THE NUMBER of Great Orme goats in Llandudno will be reduced by relocating the animals. Conwy Council’s economy and place overview and scrutiny committee met last week to discuss the Llandudno Feral Goats Management Plan.

The plan documents ways the Kashmiri goats can be managed since many ventured down from the Great Orme during the height of the pandemic.

Working with the town council, Mostyn Estates, Natural Resources Wales, and the RSPCA, the plan considers new ways to manage the animals to minimise conflict with human neighbours.

Current methods of controlling the goat population and their movements include herding the animals on some occasions, contraception, and relocation.

Conwy’s lead environmental strategy officer Sophie Birchall revealed there were currently 153 goats on the Great Orme, including a smaller group of males grazing around Nant y Gamar Road in Craig y Don.

“We are actively looking at relocating strategies and reaching out to different organisations to see if we can get some relocation happening on the grounds of conservation because it has got to be right for the goats,” she said. “We can’t just send them anywhere.”

But whilst the goats attracted international news coverage during the height of COVID, putting Llandudno firmly on the world map, the animals caused widespread damage to residents’ properties and gardens – and have continued to do so.

But the report states that landowners are responsible for protecting their land, not the council.

Cllr Paul Luckock said he was concerned about residents who were unable to secure their properties.

“My slight concern is those vulnerable landowners and tenants because although I fully accept it is for the private landowners to protect their property, and that means building higher fences, walls, gates, and maybe planting particular plants, which is fine, but then, of course, there are landowners who are vulnerable and, even with the assistance and support of family and friends, struggle to build those protections around their house and gardens,” he said.

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Cllr Luckock added that conservation, heritage, and planning regulations also prevented some residents from altering their properties to adequately protect their homes.

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Nigel Smith put the question to officers. “Are we legally required to assist people who may be in need to secure their properties from these goats?” he said.

Andrew Wilkinson is Conwy’s head of neighbourhood services and responded: “Not in terms of the management of the feral goat herd.

“I think it is a wider question of how we assist vulnerable people and how we prioritise assistance and for what.

“What the plan is trying to do is balance the welfare and future survival of the herd with the needs of residents so they can co-exist with the local community, and I think we have tried to have regard for the needs of residents because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here presenting a plan.”

He added: “We wouldn’t be monitoring numbers, managing numbers, relocating goats, arranging for round-up and transportation of goats – all these things we are doing and are committed to doing and now we’ve got in writing through the plans.”

Cllr Austin Roberts asked council officers if Mostyn Estates should take more responsibility, given that the goats were originally a gift to Lord Mostyn.

But Cllr Roberts was told Mostyn Estates were a partner agency only and did not own the herd but that they did contribute towards the cost of contraceptive vaccinations.

Cllr Louise Emery summed up residents’ feelings about the Great Orme goats.

“There are a number of residents from our ward – it is more the Gogarth ward than Mostyn – but there are a number of residents who really, really find it distressing when their little garden is eaten alive, and there is really not a lot they can do about it,” she said.

“But this plan is great. It won’t give a solution to the residents. I’m not sure what the residents want because they do love the goats and at the same time hate them when they are in their garden, and if we ever suggested culling, we’d all be thrown out of Bodlondeb in an instant.”

Cllr Goronwy Edwards said it was important North Wales Police took their responsibility seriously when the goats ventured on the highway.

Councillors unanimously backed the report that will be now considered by Cabinet.