Feral goats bring havoc to New Zealand town

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Image caption New Zealand's Department of Conservation lists feral goats as a threat to native flora

A gang of 16 wild goats is causing havoc in a small town on New Zealand's South Island.

The "mob" has been roaming through the streets of Blackball, destroying gardens and local flora as they go, the New Zealand Herald reports. Grey District Council animal control officer Murray Malloch says there's also concern that they might cause a car crash. "Everyone said they're lovely goats though," he tells the paper.

But the herd's days may be numbered. Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Mr Malloch said what started off as a small group of three animals has multiplied over the years, causing an increasing local problem. Residents have two weeks to claim the animals, he says, or they'll be "dealt with", most likely shot for meat.

Putting Blackball's problem into perspective, radio host John Campbell said that 16 animals in a town of 330 people is the per capita equivalent of 67,000 wandering around downtown Auckland. "Don't bother disputing that, it's a fact," he warns listeners.

Feral goats are a long-standing problem in New Zealand, first introduced by Captain James Cook in 1773. The country's Department of Conservation calls the several hundred thousand living wild a threat to native flora, as they're capable of destroying all vegetation in their reach. Hunting and shooting programmes are permitted to control numbers and to preserve sensitive areas.

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