At least two members of the herd of feral goats which has been rampaging through Ennis, Co Clare, in recent weeks have been identified as Old Irish goats — an ancient breed protected under the Convention of Biological Diversity.
A herd of more than 20 goats has been tormenting residents and motorists in Ennis for the past month, and, according to Fine Gael councillor Mary Howard, have been “procreating like there is no tomorrow”.
According to Sean Carolan of the Old Irish Goat Society, two adult members of the herd are Old Irish goats, a native species which has existed for more than 7,000 years and which is a genetically different species to farmed goats, most of which were introduced into Ireland in the past 100 years.
Mr Carolan believes these feral goats will be nearly impossible to catch and will require a considerable investment of both manpower and equipment by Clare County Council.
The goats most likely migrated to Ennis from their usual grazing lands in the Burren National Park.
“The two adult black and white goats are certainly Old Irish goats,” said Mr Carolan.
“The goats that we see on farms are usually Swiss breeds who have been brought in over the past 100 years or breeds brought in from Africa. Old Irish goats are protected under the precautionary principal of the Convention of Biological Diversity.
“Capturing feral goats is extremely difficult and needs a certain skillset and equipment. You would need to examine the geography of the area and identify areas where they could be captured.”
The society has called for regulation to be introduced concerning the management of feral goats. It claims many feral goats are slaughtered each year as part of an illegal trade of meat.
“We have done a lot of genetic research over the last few years into the old Irish goat and it has been proven beyond any doubt that it is a distinct native breed of Ireland,” said Mr Carolan. “The formalities of getting the breed officially recognised is in process.”