Monday, May 02, 2016

Resident left close to tears by havoc-causing wild goats

Wild goats are causing chaos for residents in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. The goats, famous for roaming the tourist hotspot, are causing problems as they make their way down the gorge in search of food, munching on carefully tended gardens in The Bays and even the beer garden of the White Hart pub. One resident, who does not wish to be named, said it has become so bad she could cry. "It's been awful," she said. "They've eaten expensive shrubs and they've had every tulip as well. They've devastated our garden."

The goats currently residing around Cheddar Gorge were introduced in 2005 as part of a management agreement with Natural England to help protect the SSSI land and manage the scrub around the cliffs. But a lack of food over winter has meant the goats are wandering for a fresh supply. "Someone else had 25 goats in their garden the other day and so they chased them out and then everyone in the White Hart scattered as there were a load of goats heading towards them," said The Bays resident. "It sounds funny but it's so bad I could cry. We've been over 50 years and we've altered the garden, landscaped it and have vegetables growing too and now it's being ruined.

"I can look through into my neighbour's garden because the goats have eaten the hedge – we couldn't see each other before. I want to cry because my daughter gave me a camellia and the goats have now had it." The goats are also disturbing sleep and not just the flowers. "Last week, I wondered what my neighbours were doing at 5am that was making a noise so I looked out my window and I thought it was a pack of wolves. Next thing, they are on my lawn so I shouted and they ran off. By 6am there were three more so I put trainers on and chased them off. Every day there are three or four a day leaping about." A spokesman for Cheddar Gorge, owned by Longleat Estates, said they were aware of the problem and were looking at ways of dealing with it.

"We are aware there have been a few reports of goats which have roamed into a small upper section of Cheddar village, close to the Gorge," said Steve Mytton of Longleat. "This can on occasions happen due to lack of scrub available to graze on over the winter and spring months. The Cheddar Gorge team regularly help encourage any goats which stray close to the village back up to the gorge and remain committed to assisting with this. The goats, which are British feral animals, are classified as wild and live naturally off the Gorge. The Cheddar Gorge team have helped manage their population but due to them being wild have little control with their husbandry on a daily basis. We are currently in discussions with both the National Trust and Hanson, where the goats also roam in and around the Gorge to look into a number of ideas which may help the alleviate any issues the local area are experiencing."

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