Autumn News of the goats from The Valley of Death

Colin Ridsdale

It has been a very difficult year for the goats, more than 131 animals are no longer in the Valley. 14 have been relocated to Pirbright in Surrey, a few orphaned kids re-homed and the remainder humanely destroyed.

In October newsletter of the Mayor she wrote “we now have approximately 75 goats in the Valley. We know there are 11 goats that need to be culled on welfare grounds” At public question time at the monthly meeting of November 25th the Town Clerk,in answer to my questions stated that 27 goats had been culled This was a series of some 6 separate culls Why were healthy animals culled ? in consultation with the vet and the RSPCA was the reply- to reduce the numbers. It could have been done at the final roundup in August. As far as I can remember it was agreed that the remaining sick animals would be put down by rifle cull, which everybody could understand and accept. The last report from the vet to the RSPCA was after the 24 August roundup. The Valley of Rocks Management meeting was postponed, and not rescheduled. Estates Committee has not been informed, the Council have never approved the removal of healthy animals but by simple arithmetic the herd has been reduced to about 45 animals, 2 above the minimal number! Why ? we are not told. Apparently there is no report or documentation from the vet proposing this and justifying this. A cold winter is forecasted, yet the goats, already battered by disease, are reduced to minimum numbers. This has always been the desire of certain members of the Council. Everything was accepted due to the openness and transparency of this years actions and then the trust destroyed. Why can this Council not keep to the accepted agreed figures of 50 Adults and 10 followers (kids) based on their own publicly reported figures. Shooting goats is different from counting them, and making wild estimates are not really acceptable.

What does this cost? It was not put up for tender, and there is an excellent licensed local marksman. It would be preferred if the vet and marksman were not the same person and an independent RSPCA officer was an observer.

There have had many problems in the past, relocated goats being delivered to an abattoir,, horns being repurchased by a Council employee, bodies removed but no record of them being incinerated in a public incinerator –food for Hunt’s hounds, which is not illegal. So now all we are told that the vet disposes the bodies-but there are no cash records. So where do the bodies go? Is it surprising that we would like to know?

Considering that most actions of the Council regarding the goats bring them to the brink of prosecution on welfare issues, perhaps some retraining is required. This is certainly needed in the Public Relations sector. The Mayor stated “if you have any queries or concerns about the herd, bring them to the Town Hall where we can deal with them.” You do this at public question time and you get evasive answers.. All we can conclude is-don’t listen to Town Hall propaganda-they get it all wrong.

No pictures in this report as the situation is disheartening. In memory of the culled goats I add a postcard picture issued by Friends of the Goats made by Sister Mary Magdalene of the Convent of Poor Claire’s (who own the copyright) It remarkably shows goats waiting in the darkness for the dawn of a new day. We pray that goats and humans will sometime be able to live in harmony with nature and that day will soon come