GOATS: Four new billy goats introduced to Avon Gorge
Four new billy goats have been introduced to Avon Gorge to help control unwanted scrub.
The new animals bring the number in “goat gully” back up to six after four of the original herd died several years ago.
Six wild Kashmiri goats were introduced into the enclosure on a steep section of the gorge by Seawalls in 2011.
Their job was to control scrub growth so that rare wildflowers and grasses, such as the Bristol onion and Bristol rock cress, can grow freely on the limestone ridge.
Bristol City Council has been wanting to restock the herd ever since two goats died of old age in 2019 and two were chased off the cliffs by dogs in separate incidents in 2017.
But its plans to get four new Kashmiri goats from Wales last June were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, four goats of another primitive breed were secured from Bristol charity, StreetGoat.
The four young Bagot goats joined the older Kashmiri goats in goat gully last month, after a short stint grazing on a patch of land next to Patchway Station.
Black and white with long curved horns, Bagot goats are one of Britain’s oldest breeds of goat, according to the Bagot Goat Society.
They are the only primitive goat breed in the UK to have developed in the English lowlands, the society’s website says.
The council’s grounds supervisor, Ben Skuse, told members of the Downs Committee last month that the goats were due to be introduced to the gully on March 25.
“The amount of browsing and scrub control in the gully has been somewhat lacking when we’ve been down to two mouths, rather than six,” he said.
“So I’m very glad that we’ve been able to source some new animals.
“They’re quite a bit younger than our current goats, which is what we wanted.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service agreed to delay reporting the news over concerns the publicity, just as Covid restrictions were easing, would result in damaging numbers of visitors.
Natural England were worried about potential damage to the gorge, which is protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Meanwhile, the council and StreetGoat were concerned for the welfare of the goats and wanted them to settle in before they were exposed to visitors.
The council had planned to get four Kashmiri goats from the Great Orme, a limestone headland on the north coast of Wales.
The Avon Gorge runs through a limestone ridge and is the only place in the world where the rare Bristol onion and Bristol rock cress grow.
Kashmiri goats eat woody plants in preference to the rare plant species because of their primitive stomachs.
Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter
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