Conservation Relocations

Dr Colin Ridsdale

The current herd originated in December 1976 when three feral goats were released into the valley, one male and two females. They came from the College Valley herd, based in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland, and they, in turn, originate from goats released in the 1860’s

The herd flourished and always has been the intention to manage it as a gene bank and relocate surplus animals in other suitable areas.

1990 Group taken to Lundy Island, Bristol Channel, to revitalise a failing herd there.
1992  Group released on Isle of White to control scrub on chalk downland this introduction formed a part of a land management scheme.
1997 The recently formed Friends of the Goats organised a mass relocation scheme as the herd exceeded one hundred and fifty in number. Before this could take place the local council "organised" that over 100 hundred goats were shot !
1998 In September, the herd was rounded up with the assistance of the Mammal Conservation Trust.
  • 33 goats were relocated to the Surrey Heath land project near Guildford to clear birch and pine scrub.
  • 6 were sent to a National Trust farm on the north Cornish coast.
  • Two small breeding groups were sent to a wildlife park in Kent and to Trent Country Park in North London.
On 3rd October new goats from the College herd were released into the valley.
29 animals were selected to remain in the valley to form a gene bank for the future.
  • In October, 25 goats from the Valley of Rocks herd and all goats from a separate herd on adjacent land owned by the Lee Abbey Estate were sent to conservation and breeding projects in the South of England as follows:
  • 10 males to Windsor Great Park, Berkshire (Crown Estate/English Nature~ for temporary conservation grazing. This group will be relocated to a large reserve managed by the Broads Authority in 2001.
  • 4 adult females and 2 female kids to Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood (Essex County Council). -~
  • Breeding group of 26 goats to Queen Elizabeth Country Park (Hampshire County Council).
  • Breeding group of 9 goats to Wiltshire (English Nature).
  • In November 2000 two young female goats from Yeavering Bell (part of College Valley) were introduced into the Lynton herd to increase the genetic base.
  • 14 other goats from Yeavering Bell will also be introduced into the South of England to form a genetic resource for the future and a South of England herd book and support network is currently being set up. 
2002 Population 56 { 21 mature females, 21 mature males, 14 kids – 7 male and 7 female}
2003 Council threatens again with a cull.

Population 69 { 23 mature females, 25 mature males, 21 kids }

We welcome approaches from conservation bodies and rare breeds parks interested in having goats. Our next round-up is expected to be in September/October 2003 and we are starting a waiting list. Whilst no charge is made for the animals, recipients are asked to arrange collection or to reimburse our delivery costs and may be asked to contribute towards other associated costs. Goats are currently supplied on the understanding that they will not be crossbred with other breeds.

If you are interested in using goats for conservation grazing, the Friends of the Goats would be pleased to hear from you. At the present time, no charge is made for the animals but we ask recipients to arrange to collect the animals or to reimburse delivery costs.