Campaign to help protect goats from shooters
27 April 2004
While leafing through the current edition of an Irish gun magazine, I was horrified to see a trio of trophy hunters, two armed with lethal weapons, and one holding up a stricken male goat by the horns. The majestic creature had been gunned down for "sport" by shooters keen to try their hand at "big game hunting".
Feral goats in Galway provided the day's entertainment for these shooters and very easy targets they proved to be - the herd was found lying in the sunshine. Five of the animals, including a lame one, were promptly shot down. Most horrifyingly, it took more than one shot to kill them. A description is given of one goat surviving "a large wound in his forehead" and trying to rise from the ground to escape. One can only imagine the terror and suffering endured.
The article on the day's carnage made for thoroughly sickening reading, with the author going into cold, clinical and forensic detail about the merits and de-merits of various guns, bullets and "the ability of the common Irish goat to absorb punishment".
Sadly, there is no protection in law for these beautiful creatures. Though effectively wild, they are afforded no protection under the Wildlife Act. No licence is required to shoot them, hence the indiscrimate slaughter by shooting gangs. In the Burren, goats have been found wounded by gunshot, their young kids left orphaned. It is left up to local animal welfarists to find and rescue them.
Despite a reputation for being an occasional nuisance to farmers, goats do play a positive role in ecological terms. For instance, in the Burren, they eat plants and grasses which smother rare plants, therefore helping to maintain the natural balance of this world famous site.
Thankfully, a new campaign has been launched to help secure protection for feral goats around Ireland. Those interested in getting involved are invited to contact The Burren Feral Goat Preservation Society on 087-7954351.