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"Goats to Remain on Rum" - October 2011


SNH Press Release - 24/10/2011

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is to maintain a healthy and viable population of feral goats on the island of Rum, even though some are being culled to protect the island's fragile habitats. The goats are thought to have been on Rum for at least 200 years and, along with eagles, red deer and Manx shearwater, have become an established wildlife feature of the island's national nature reserve. Over the past ten years there has been a marked increase in the size of the feral goat herd, for reasons that are not entirely clear. This has been shown to have a negative impact on protected fragile heaths and grasslands.

Richard Kilpatrick, SNH reserve manager on Rum, said that while they will need to reduce the size of the goat herd, a healthy population will be maintained. He said: "We had a herd of almost 250 feral goats on Rum for many years, but over the past decade this has increased notably to more than 350. We're not sure why goat numbers have risen but what has become clear is the increasingly negative impact they are having on some of our more fragile habitats on the island. We are confident that a herd size of around 270 will be compatible with other interests on the island and will therefore reduce the herd to around that size." Mr. Kilpatrick dismissed, as absolute rubbish', some claims made this week about how goat carcasses were being disposed of on the island. "Where possible we have been recovering the carcasses and selling them to a local game dealer", he said. "Where it is simply too dangerous to recover carcasses, we are leaving them where they are to become fodder for the island's eagles. This is completely acceptable practice on both welfare and health and safety grounds."

Author: Calum Macfarlane
Contact: SNH Press Office


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