Call for action on Great Keppel Island’s wild goats

GOATS FOUND: A number of wild goats have died on Great Keppel Island.
GOATS FOUND: A number of wild goats have died on Great Keppel Island. CONTRIBUTED

IT'S been described as a scene from hell where bloated corpses of wild goats floated downstream and the screams of drowning ones pierced the ears of kayaking tourists.

On Wednesday, a Great Keppel Island business operator took tourists kayaking in Leekes Creek where they stumbled upon "frantic bleating of dozens of drowning terrified bloated goats", according to a Facebook post posted on the Don't destroy Great Keppel Island Facebook page.

Ya Nga (Great Keppel Alliance) spokesperson Michael Powell said the issue of wild goats on the island had been boiling over for a number of months.

"When the kayakers saw the bloated goats they realised because there's no food left on the island the goats had attacked the grey mangroves and had become bloated because the roots are poisonous," he said.

"Then the tide came in and the goats were trying to get back to dry land but they floated because they were full of air and as a result they drowned.

"The tourists grabbed the goats, put them over the kayaks and tried to ferry them to dry land but they managed to only save seven. The rest drowned and the bodies have now washed up on the dry land, leaving a real stink about the place."

Michael said a solution to the problem had to be created sooner rather than later.

"The State Government is the landlord of the island and responsible for the island being looked after but because Tower Holdings is leasing it they were supposed to put an environmental management plan forward," he said.

"Tower has a lease which says they are responsible for destocking the island of all exotic grazing farm-yard animals."

He said there were between 500 and 600 goats on the island which was over the capacity of 150.

Michael said a number of options had been discussed in a bid to solve the issue.

"The results of a discussion with locals and traditional owners of the island (this week) came up with four alternatives including paying someone to shoot the goats and drag the carcasses into the bush to rot, find them loving homes on the mainland, allow them to be exported by a barge to the nearest exporter who's offered to do the job or farm them as a renewable resource," he said.

Capricorn Conservation Council's Michael McCabe said the Department of Natural Resources and Mines needed to step in and enforce leaseholder compliance and insist on urgent remedial action.

A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources and Mines said the department had held discussions with GKI Resort Pty Ltd about plans to address feral goat management issues on Great Keppel Island.

"GKI Resort Pty Ltd has a Land Management Plan in place for the four leases it holds on the island but is not the only landholder on the island," the spokesperson said.

"Livingstone Shire Council is seeking to arrange a meeting shortly with landholders and leaseholders from the island and relevant State Government agencies to discuss working together to co-ordinate feral goat control actions across all land tenures on Great Keppel Island."

Tower Holdings was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.

Topics:  great keppel island

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