Great Orme goats worries continue in Craig-y-Don despite round-up

FEARS remain regarding the presence of Great Orme goats in Craig-y-Don in spite of a round-up of a number of the animals earlier this week.

Conwy County Borough Council (CCBC) was involved in collecting a group of the goats from private grounds in Craig-y-Don and moving them to Great Orme, while another 15 have moved to Bournemouth.

This means there are now roughly 150 goats in Llandudno, with roughly eight or nine believed to still be in the Craig-y-Don area.

Phyllis Oliver, a resident of Alice Gardens, on the Liddell Park estate in Craig-y-Don, has said more must be done to allay fears shared by her and her neighbours.

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Mrs Oliver said that problems with the goats have included destruction of gardens and faeces being left on the pavements and roads.

She said: “Last year, goats started to appear, and they started ripping the bark off my Laurel bushes.

“(My garden has) a rose that was given to me, and plants that friends had grown for me, and things neighbours had donated to me before they passed away – we’re not prepared to give this up to goats.

“I’ve seen ladies crying because they’ve taken the rose gardens that their late husbands had planted for them. The council say they’ll grow back, but they don’t. The goats rip into them, so you get disease into the ends of your plants.

“On the whole of the estate, every well-tended hedge has been ripped to shreds. Every nicely-sculpted shrub has got holes in it.

“If these feral goats don’t eat what you’re growing, they will urinate all over it, and it’s acidic, which burns the leaves and bark. It breaks my heart.”

North Wales Pioneer: Goats roaming the estate in Craig-y-Don. Photo: Phyllis OliverGoats roaming the estate in Craig-y-Don. Photo: Phyllis Oliver

The goats were believed to be a gift to Lord Mostyn from Queen Victoria, and have roamed in a wild state for roughly 100 years.

Fears for their safety arose last year after a “baby boom”, resulting in 25 nannies and five billies being relocated to Bristol or Bournemouth.

A round-up was also considered by CCBC last October after one goat had to be put down after being hit by a car.

Mrs Oliver has said that her estate is home to a large number of people, including her and her husband, who moved to the area to retire, and who are not being able to live peacefully for fear of the damage the goats may cause.

She added that she does not want any harm to come to the goats, only for the remaining goats roaming free to also be rounded up and looked after properly.

She also fears that the detrimental impact the goats are having on the area will cause property prices to fall.

She said: “My neighbours, who moved here to have a peaceful life, aren’t planting this year. We have a delivery driver who said people are refusing to deliver now because they’ve been trapped behind herds who are butting their vans.

“There seem to be seven or eight juvenile males that don’t know where they are or where they’re going. One goat that came down earlier in the year did more damage than 12 have done.

“So many people have put up temporary barriers and given up gardening. What’s this doing to our property prices? Who’s going to want to live surrounded by dung? I wonder what’s in the dung as well, because the other day I saw a dog eating it.

“We love the goats, we don’t want them to be killed off, but we want them to be managed like they used to be.

“They’re beautiful animals, but we have a lot of old people on the estate, and if you’re in a little buggy going round a corner, the last thing you want is to find a herd of goats taller than you are.

“We want the herd on the Orme to be monitored and cared for, and for that to be their home.

“The mental health of some of the older people has deteriorated rapidly; they’re worried sick that they’re on their doorstep and don’t know what to do.

“People retired to Craig-y-Don for peace and quiet, and to enjoy their hard-earned peace of mind. It’s gone far enough, and more.”

In response to this, a CCBC spokesperson said: “Because the goats are feral animals, we do not have a legal responsibility to keep the goats on the Great Orme by way of fencing or ‘containment’.

“The council acts in the interests of the goats’ welfare when they are on our land.

“We are not responsible for any damage they may cause to private property and property owners should take steps to keep the goats out.

“A welfare group, including the council, Mostyn Estates, Llandudno Town Council, Natural Resources Wales and RSPCA, has been managing the herd size since 2001 via contraception and occasional relocation.

“Most recently, we have relocated 15 goats to a grazing site in Bournemouth this month.”

A spokesperson for Mostyn Estates supported the recent action taken by the council, adding: “With regard to the remaining eight or nine goats, the estate are hopeful that, if an opportunity arises, these can be rounded up and returned to the Orme.”

A RSPCA Cymru spokesperson added: “We know that living near wild goats can be challenging at times and we have worked with the local authority and recognised their humane and pioneering approach to managing the unique goat population in this area.

“We liaise closely with the wardens, should welfare issues arise, and there are tips on living near wildlife on the RSPCA website.”

Councillor Gareth Jones (Craig-y-Don ward, CCBC) said the goats have also caused damaged to his garden, and stressed that “action is needed now” to put minds at ease.

“I can only sympathise and empathise with residents who feel this way, since our garden has also suffered similar damage.

“We are aware of the attendant issues of questions regarding ownership, accountability and responsibility for the goats.

“However, this is now about animal welfare and I would have thought that there is sufficient animal welfare and public protection legislation in place to empower action to be taken to safeguard the animals and, in so doing, prevent any harm coming to them and also prevent further damage to properties.

“If the RSPCA will not act to safeguard their welfare, and Mostyn Estate do not accept owner responsibility, then common sense dictates that the county council needs to act, without prejudice, to remedy the serious situation we are encountering.

“The council has a duty of care, I should think, for such harming/emergency situations and is the only body with adequate skills and resources to do something immediately.

“Action could be taken without having to accept subsequent responsibility, and the question of true ownership and responsibility could be discussed and decided upon in future meetings of interested parties and a final legal adjudication.

“Action is needed now.”

 

Similarly, Cllr Frank Bradfield (Craig-y-Don ward, CCBC) said: “This situation has been going on for two years now, and last year, I was interviewed by ITV Wales regarding the damage that was done to my garden and many others, especially on the award-winning, open-plan, Liddell Park Estate.

“I was informed this year that the multi-agency would only take action should there be a danger to the public or the goats.

“One would think 20-plus goats blocking Queens Road and the Conway Road should, at the very least, be putting them in danger, as well as being a traffic hazard.

“My inbox is completely full of residents’ emails who love the goats and their historical connection to Llandudno which creates an interest worldwide and recognised as a valuable tourist asset which just might be underestimated.

“I cannot do anything except watch the stress that the animals are put through being chased from garden to garden and the hopelessness of gardeners who have tendered to their gardens over many years.

“My latest excursion with six Great Orme goats was to round them up and take them away from Maes Berllan, a lovely, tranquil retirement estate close to where I live, and that was at 5.55am on Wednesday (April 27).

“The matter is not concluded. Hopefully, something sensible will be agreed for everybody’s benefit, because the situation as it stands cannot be allowed to continue.”

Cllr Antony Bertola (Craig-y-Don ward, Llandudno Town Council) added: “Be assured, the situation is being managed; there is a current plan in place.

“The goats have grown exponentially over the last couple of years. The wonderful site of goats in Llandudno is renowned as part of our identity in our town.

“However, we, as residents, are experiencing avoidable circumstances within the streets and gardens, working for a sustainable future for the welfare of ourselves and the goats.”

Janet Finch-Saunders, the Aberconwy MS who previously written to CCBC about the goats having received messaged from concerned constituents, said she is aware that fears such as those felt by Mrs Oliver remain.

She said: “Having raised this matter with the local authority, I am delighted to see that positive action has been taken to rehome a small number of these fantastic animals to the Great Orme and Bournemouth.

“Residents can be assured that I know that concerns persist, and that I look forward to working with all Llandudno county councillors after the election on May 5.”

North Wales Pioneer | Llandudno