By Oliver Farrimond
AN IDYLLIC Scots village has found itself under siege by a herd of marauding wild mountain goats.
Terrified villagers in Ardrishaig have told of their fear that the “agile” goats may “attack a child”.
And some have even taken to arming themselves with clothes poles and sticks when walking the streets of the town in Argyll.
The herd have been appearing and disappearing mysteriously over the past few months, roaming childrens’ play parks and snacking on prize-winning gardens.
Edward Laughton, convener of Ardrishaig Community Council, said that there were around six female goats, two kids and two billy goats in the herd.
He added that the community had been divided by the invasion.
He said: “Some think it’s quite cute having these goats around, while others are incensed by the damage and concerned about the potential danger.
“The billies are quite brazen – you walk quite close to them and they won’t flinch.”
One local, who did not want to be named, even said that if she had a gun she would shoot them.
But Ardrishaig local woman Wilma Little said: “That would be quite unnecessary, but I do think that something has to be done.
“They used to be quite timid by now they’ll stand up to you.
“I think the main worry is that they might get aggressive and attack a child.”
And retired newsagent Anne Law, a grandmother-of-three, said that she had seen neighbours having to chase the goats of their gardens.
She said: “They’re quite agile – I looked out the window one morning and there was one standing on the drystane dyke.
“It’s like we’re living in the Himalayas!”
And the wife of prize-winning local gardener Don Crawford said that the goats had been chomping on her husband’s expertly tended shrubs and plants.
Catherine Crawford said: “We’ve been in contact with the authorities and no-one seems to care.”
Argyll and Bute council said that because the goats have no known owner, neither they nor the villagers are able to take legal action to have them removed.
An Argyll and Bute Council spokeswoman said: “The situation is being investigated by the council’s senior animal and health and welfare officer.
“These investigations established that there were no welfare issues associated with the goats and we have so far been unable to identify any owner.
“Unfortunately there is no formal action the council can take.
“However, we will continue to review this and would be willing to consider any potential solutions proposed by the community, in consultation with police.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish SPCA said that the goats were unlikely to present a danger unless cornered.
She added that wild goats were not a protected species, but have the same protection as any animal against unnecessary suffering.