Army vets shoot horny goats with contraceptive pill to save protected woodland

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ARMY veterans are shooting horny goats with the contraceptive pill in a bid to curb their destruction of a protected woodland.

The 222 acre Pollochro Wood – on the shore of Loch Lomond – is a protected area, home to an incredible mixture of flora and fauna.

But the woods are under threat from feral goats which destructively graze on plant life.

Now a team of ex-army sharpshooters have been called in to administer the goats with the contraceptive pill, in a bid to keep their numbers under control.

50 goats have been given the chemical cocktail through a dart in an operation launched by the landowner, the RSPB.

The forest is unique - with a huge array of trees and lichen - but the goats are an ongoing threat
The forest is unique – with a huge array of trees and lichen – but the goats are an ongoing threat

The drug will curb the mating drive of the goats for three years in an attempt to keep their numbers under control, and keep the woodland intact.

RSPB warden Fraser Lamont oversees the woods – and regularly sees the feral goats eating young trees.

He said: “There are open areas where older trees are dying off and nothing is coming through to take their place.

“The goats will walk up trees to eat the mosses and lichens some of which have taken hundreds of years to develop.”

It is the first time the technique has been deployed in Scotland – and it is being touted as a more human alternative to a culling.

Dave Beaumont is the RSPB’s south Scotland reserves manager.

He said: “The last thing we really want to be doing as a conservation organisation is shooting things, and trying to find a non-lethal method here has been particularly challenging.

“We could fence the whole thing and move away any herbivores from the outside but that would in effect keep them away from any winter shelter and they would starve or die of hypothermia out on the hill.

“The more traditional method of using a stalker has been used in the past but nowadays public perceptions are that you should avoid using lethal control at all costs.”

The marksmen – from Monmouth-based firm Animal Welfare Solutions – spent two weeks camped out on the 2,000 acre RSPB Inversnaid reserve, where the woods are located.

The drug is effective on both genders of goat, and it is hoped that injecting 50 – less than half the total number on the reserve – will drastically cut damage to the woods.

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