How did goats get here?
Goats first arrived into New Zealand with the whalers and sealers during the 19th century who used them as a source of food. More goats were introduced as a control for weeds and later for farming.
What are feral goats?
Under the Wild Animal Control Act 1978 feral goats are any goats which are not suitably identified and not effectively constrained. Goats are notoriously difficult to contain with a fence and many escape from farms to become feral.
Feral goats have long been considered a pest and feral goat control began as early as 1914. Government funding for feral goat control started in 1924. Goat control is still an ongoing issue for landowners and the Department of Conservation today. Feral goats are found throughout the Bay of Plenty with the highest infestations in the eastern Bay of Plenty catchments.
Feral goats are classed as a Progressive Control Pest Animal under the Environment Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Strategy.
What do feral goats do?
Goats eat a wide variety of vegetation.
Feral goats are commonly found in native forest where their continual browsing of the understorey hampers forest regeneration. By destroying the smaller shrubs, goat browsing opens up the forest floor to create a habitat more suitable for possum and less suitable for native animals like the kiwi.
Goats can also destroy plants which help to hold the soil in place in both the forest and on hill country. When this vegetation is removed soil erosion is increased. Goats can also damage areas of exotic forestry by browsing the young trees and strip barking the older trees.
Landowners are required to:
- control goats on their land at a level that avoids damage to conservation or economic values.
- not liberate any goats held on their property and report any domestic goat escapes to Bay of Plenty Regional Council within 24 hours.
- ensure that all untethered domestic goats on their land are contained within appropriate goat proof fences.
Any feral goat that invades a property may be disposed of by the landowner.
Controlling feral goats
It is strongly recommended that only experienced hunters carry out goat control work. Goats are intelligent animals and ineffective, indiscriminate shooting will only make future control more difficult. Goats in forested areas can be controlled by professional hunters with dogs. Goats on exposed terrain can be controlled by aerial shooting from a helicopter.
Points to consider for goat shooting operations:
- WEATHER - goats seek shelter in heavy rain, shade in hot weather and avoid exposed areas in strong winds.
- TIME - goats are most active at dawn and late afternoon and generally rest during the middle of the day.
- ESCAPE - goats often use a predetermined escape route when disturbed.
- TERRAIN - goats prefer dry, sunny, sheltered aspects and rest on high areas with a good view of approaching danger.
- always hunt into the wind- endeavour to get between the goats and their line of escape
- shoot the dominant animal first
- aim for the central chest/shoulder area
Netting deer fence secured well at ground level is recommended as the best goat-proof fence. The minimum requirements for a goat-proof fence are:
- standard nine wire high tensile fence with 5 posts/20m
- bottom wire no more than 8cm above the ground or barbed-wire if on uneven ground.
- maximum batten spacing 1m
- electrified wires at 30cm, 60cm and 120cm
- blocked access on post stays
For more information
For more information about controlling feral goats, see Fact Sheet PA 13 - Feral Goats