The feral goat is the domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) when it has become established in the wild. Feral goats occur in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Great Britain, Hawaii, the Galapagos and in many other parts of the world. When feral goats reach large populations in habitats which are not adapted to them, they may become an invasive species with serious negative effects, such as removing native scrub, trees and other vegetation. However, in other circumstances they may become a natural component of the habitat, even replacing locally extinct wild goats. Feral goats are sometimes used for conservation grazing, to control the spread of undesirable scrub or weeds in open natural habitats such as chalk grassland and heathland.
Feral goats throughout the world
The Kri-kri (also called the "Cretan goat", "Cretan Ibex," or "Agrimi") was previously considered a subspecies of wild goat but has recently been identified as a feral variety of the domestic goat. The Kri-kri is now found only on the island of Crete, Greece and three small islands just offshore.
Feral goats are common in many areas of the Irish west coast including counties Mayo, Donegal and Kerry. In the town of Killorglin, in County Kerry, a Puck Fair takes place each year in which a wild goat is captured and crowned "King" of the fair, in a continuation of ancient Celtic practices. The Bilberry Goats are feral goats living on Bilberry Rock in Waterford City.
Feral goats, introduced in 1574, had become a plague in the Juan Fernández Islands.
The Arapawa Island goat is a breed of feral goat found only on Arapawa Island. Auckland Island goats were extirpated in the wild in the late 20th century. The New Zealand feral goat is the descendant of many other species of goat, such as Angora, Kiko, Spanish, Pygora, Boer, Saanen, Nubian and Alpine.
Feral goats are a fairly common sight in the Scottish Highlands. The goats are descendants of livestock abandoned, through necessity, by Highlanders during the Highland Clearances. The goats act as a living reminder of the region's turbulent past.
The San Clemente Island goats were a feral species that arrived in 1875 on San Clemente Island from Santa Catalina Island, both off the coast of California. They remained isolated there until several were adopted out to become domesticated on the mainland in the United States and western Canada. The US Navy was given the right to exterminate the last remaining feral goats on San Clemente Island in 1991. They are genetically related to Iberian goats, though their isolation has caused enough genetic drift to make them distinct from goats now in Spain and other Spanish goats in the United States. The Livestock Conservancy considers them a critically endangered heritage breed. In 2008, their global population was approximately 400; all now domesticated. The Goats' bleat is so consistent that it is sometimes confused with a recorded goat sound.
- Wainwright, Martin (20 October 2011). "Northumberland's Neolithic goats brought into modern world". Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved 30 October 2011.
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