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Feral goats

Feral goats

Updated 27 November 2020 11:32am


Feral goats
Capra hircus


Why are feral goats a problem?

Feral goat browsing can devastate the forest under-storey, and severely impact on plant biodiversity. Goats can also contribute to soil erosion. Feral goats are not averse to living near human habitation, and can damage commercial gardens, forestry seedlings, amenity plantings and lawns and property.

Description and background

Feral goats all originate from domestic species. Both sexes generally have horns and are short-haired and bearded. Adults weigh between 25 to 70 kg. Feral goats within the Wellington region have a wide range of colours and markings. Goats, first released in New Zealand in the 1770s, were propagated as a hardy stock animal and a form of weed control. Despite extensive control operations and recreational hunting, feral goats remain in much of the Wellington region. Feral goats frequent native bush, regenerating scrubland, exotic forestry and farmland in the region.

Any goat which is not held behind effective fences or otherwise constrained, or identified in accordance with a recognised identification system, is considered to be feral by Greater Wellington.

What can I do?

Feral goats are a popular recreational hunting species. Contact a local hunting club and enquire about an experienced hunter who can assist with their control. In semi-rural or lifestyle areas safety is a concern, the use of high powered firearms must not endanger, annoy or frighten neighbours.

Additional information can be found at –

Feral ungulates brochure

Department of Conservation

Bionet - information about pests and disease in New Zealand