Great Orme’s wild goats might be a treasured symbol of Llandudno but some locals are demanding action to save their shrubs and hedges from being gobbled up by the hungry beasts. Queen Victoria presented Major-General Sir Savage Lloyd-Mostyn with a pair of Windsor Great Park goats in the 1890s which were subsequently released onto the Great Orme, a limestone headland outside the town of Llandudno in north Wales.
The goats, which are widely recognised as a symbol of Llandudno, have been wild for more than 100 years and made international headlines when they invaded the town during the Covid lockdown when it was much quieter.
Billy goats have roamed further and further into the town and beyond, reaching as far as Craig y Don and Llanrhos, nearly four miles away from Great Orme.
Managing the beasts is complicated by the fact that no single body is legally responsible for them. They can only become “property” if they are fenced in.
Town councillor Greg Robbins, who represents Gogarth ward which includes Great Orme, told Express.co.uk a group of goats have continued to stray into town after developing a taste for some of the plants and shrubs in people’s gardens.
Currently, the total population stands between 120 to 130, according to Conwy County Borough Council.
In 1990 the number of goats was around 60, leading to regular complaints throughout the decade of damage to nearby properties.
A working group made up of council officers, Mostyn Estates – which owns most of Great Orme – and Countryside Council for Wales had mulled controlling the burgeoning population by shooting sick, injured or elderly goats.
But without a clear way forward, the numbers steadily increased until the herd grew to 211 by autumn 2000.
Since then, officials have grappled with the long-term management of the herd with castration, progesterone implants and relocation put forward as solutions.
Since 2001, some of the herd has been sent to sites as far afield as Whitby, the Avon Gorge and Bournemouth
In spring last year, 15 goats were rehomed in the Dorset resort, joining a herd grazing coastal cliffs as part of a conservation project aimed at controlling invasive shrubs and boosting native wildflowers.
The contraceptive vaccine Gonacon is also used with nanny goats rounded up on Great Orme every three years.
Conwy’s Economy and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee discussed the latest management plan at a meeting on Wednesday.
Long term, officials want to make sure the breed survives on Great Orme as a wild, free-roaming herd, but manage the goats to minimise their upsetting the locals.
The council works with a number of organisations with an interest in the goats, including Llandudno Town Council, Mostyn Estates, Natural Resources Wales and the RSPCA.
Committee members recommended Conwy cabinet chiefs adopt the plan which should be decided on by them on May 9.