Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wild goat. Euthanise, rehome or shoot?

Goat, Wicklow
Here up in the mountains sometimes even domestic animals pose a problem. We live within five minutes by car to the Sally Gap - a wild Wicklow upland known for its wandering sheep and possible store of dead bodies which appear from time to time buried in deep bog. It's also a place of outstanding beauty but a site near enough to Dublin for people to think that driving up there with unwanted animals is a good idea. How wrong they are.

Less than three miles away from the main cross roads of tiny bog roads in the Sally Gap is our place. At the moment we are paying the price for again living in an environment where people sometimes feel a loose or unwanted pet doesn't cause a problem. This week it's a (probably once domesticated) billy goat with full horns. He is  stressed, confused, and making our life pretty much hell. On the lane outside our house he is now challenging cars, chasing sheep belonging to our next door farmer into wire fences and freaking the crap out of all animals in the area including "rescue and rehab" - our two re-homed horses and ponies, one of which nearly landed me in hospital today by knocking me over on the road in front of a car. He's 600 kilos. I'm not.
The Sally Gap Wicklow, Ireland

Ringing the Gardai isn't an option. I've done so and they've said "not our job love". As anyone knows living in an environment like this there are few people or agencies around to help you out. In the past I've collected loose and abandoned horses on roads in my own trailer and on my own time. One of them resulted in me getting personal threats and night time visitors at home. The Irish Horse Welfare Trust is brilliant at rescuing equines on limited resources and pursuing prosecutions for neglect and welfare abuses. But with animals that come between the livestock and pet categories it's much more difficult. Often the code is in the country - don't call anyone, shoot it and say nothing.

If loose animals are quiet, the SPCAs might collect if the animal is already penned but again in this area of Wicklow it's tricky .Wicklow SPCA due to dwindling funds cant afford to collect and look after animals like goats. The DSPCA, they sometimes pick up animals outside Dublin but it depends on the nature of the job. A loose dog or injured swan is one thing. An injured cow or dumped goat is another.

Sheep in the Wicklow uplands
In the meantime my neighbour wants to shoot the goat. With 400 pregnant ewes out on grass it isn't a good time to have them harassed or running loops round a 20 acre field as they were doing yesterday and possibly early aborting.

Lesson here is folks... and I know I don't have to stress this to anyone who reads this blog - do not buy animals you can't cope with once they are fully grown. That cute kid goat at a country fair will grow into a 60 pound guy that is full of territorial and sexually aggressive behaviour with full horns to boot. Unless he's in an environment with plenty of space and is free to behave in his herding and domineering way, this animal is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands. It's sad to reminisce, but at the last house we lived in near Kilcroney in Enniskerry, the dumped animal of choice was pot-bellied Vietnamese pigs (killed) and decapitated deer; presumably shot for trophies. There was such a pile of rotting animals on the lane at one point that I rang up the council and they replied "Yeah, that's what people are doing. Get used to it."

This evening I found said goat now in the field next to our kitchen. Tomorrow I will have to make a call on it. My local farmer will shoot it if I tell him, or else I can leave the animal to take its chances. As you can imagine these kind of issues come on top of real life trundling on. I'm trying to finish up my food column for a deadline this week, I'm writing script for a piece with Pat Kenny (RTE radio one) on Thursday and a lecture for an Taisce for Saturday on genetically modified foods. We've small children sick with the flu and one of the horses suffering near fatal colic. Fantastic!

I'll let you know how it goes, and in the meantime, gather together your Christmas ham recipes for a piece I'm doing. Glazes; honey, mixed spice, marmalade, jerk Caribbean? I need the best and most tastiest of suggestions! x

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