Last year, a rowdy hoard of goats took advantage of the quieter conditions created by the COVID-19 lockdown and invaded a Welsh seaside town. Their antics earned them their 15-minutes of viral fame, but it looks like the story didn’t end there. The goats are now back and in greater numbers than ever after missing their annual dose of contraception due to the pandemic.
The population of Kashmiri goats lives in the rocky landscape of Great Orme along the north coast of Wales, but often visits the town of Llandudno in the winter and spring months to look for food. According to Conwy County Borough Council, the goats were originally a gift to a local lord from none other than Queen Victoria. However, some 100 years ago, the goats escaped from the estate and have since roamed peacefully in a wild state.
By 2000, the herd had grown to over 220 goats. While their relationship with the locals was generally harmonious, concerns started to be raised about their ever-growing population. The local council took the decision to slowly reduce and control the herd size by relocating the animals to other sites in the UK and using a contraceptive vaccine for birth control.
All was going well until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. In March 2020, the goats became viral celebrities after they were seen stomping around Llandudno, seemingly emboldened by the lack of people on the street due to stay-at-home and social distancing measures (the goats did neither).
One year on, spring is just starting to peek its head above the clouds and the goats have returned to the town, BBC News reports. It's suspected that there may be more than ever, as the goat population may see a kid-boom since they missed last year’s contraceptive jab.
"We do try and control the numbers on the Great Orme and we do that through a contraception programme. That involves rounding them all up, it takes some effort – lots of volunteers get together to do it and to look at the female goats,” Cllr Louise Emery, from Conwy County Borough Council, told ITV News. "But obviously last summer there was no way we could do that, so they have been breeding like goats."
The next chapter remains unwritten, but it's hoped the herd will gradually drift away from the town as green returns to its natural pastures and social distancing measures are eased.